Where do ideas come from?

“Where do you get your ideas? How do you come up with ads?”

The best creative comes from a relationship with the client. This starts with research. I have to know as much about the client’s business as possible.

Just to come up with an idea isn’t very difficult. Making sure the idea fits the client is very important. It takes focus and understanding the business.

I’ve taken several management courses that taught S.M.A.R.T. goals. Ideas must be able to meet all the requirements for a S.M.A.R.T. goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. In the beginning, however, it’s important to list all the ideas before putting them to the S.M.A.R.T. test. It’s possible that an idea can be molded to fit the S.M.A.R.T. model.

In our agency sessions of exploring ideas, the only rule we have is to stay positive. Negativity stifles creativity. In the initial phase of idea discovery, examination of the idea will come in the next step. All staff members are encouraged to be part of the idea process. A good idea is not limited to a job title or hierarchy within the agency. We also encourage clients to be part of this process. A positive outlook and energy is what makes a good brainstorming session.

Good ideas are like cream in milk: the really good ideas rise to the top.

I was recently at a personal appointment near a client’s office. When I was finished with my appointment, I stopped by the client’s office just to give greetings. I was invited in. I thought this would take about five minutes. Then we started talking. We started batting ideas around. When brainstorming, I try to never ask “Why?” but to focus on “Why not?” My job is to come up with “How.” We spoke of several different projects. The client explained the vision behind the projects. We starting talking about steps to take to make it all happen. We were excited about the ideas as they freely flowed. Some will happen; some will not. It was a great session. I thought it was a 30 minute conversation, but it turned out to be a 90 minute conversation. That’s the mark of a good creative session.

I read a lot. Mostly what I read these days are articles – magazine, newspaper, blogs, etc. I am constantly on the lookout for information that I can take to my clients. And, my job is to connect my client to their customers. There’s the “How” I mentioned. Sometimes how I get from point A to point B might not be very orthodox. “How” can be creative too.

I dislike the phrase “Think outside the box.” For one thing, it is cliché. For another, it is limiting. What’s really being said is “Be more creative” or “Come up with an original idea.” Comedienne Jeannie Robertson says that left-brained people, like her husband, like to measure the box while right-brained people don’t know there is a box. I believe that we all carry traits of both. I like the Casey Kasem sign-off “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Ideas turn visions and dreams into reality. It is the job of marketing to turn visions and dreams into reality. We just have to be S.M.A.R.T. about it.

Originally published in the July, 2016 issue of the Northeast Mississippi Business Journal in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

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