3 Smart Steps to Brainstorm Creative Marketing

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The 3 Smartest Steps to Brainstorming Creative Marketing

In basketball, a “shooter’s mentality” usually means the player is not going to let missing a shot or two deter them from taking another shot.

Michael Jordan made almost 50% of his shots. That means he missed around 50% too. But he kept shooting. Great shooters do not think about missing. Once the thought of missing shots gets in the player’s head, the chances for success diminish.

“I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot. Why? Because when you think about the consequences, you always think of a negative result.” ~ Michael Jordan

 This is not a “brick.” This is a “swoosh.” A brick is a shot where the ball makes a huge clang-like noise on the basketball rim and does not go in the basket.

I’ve been lucky enough to be a professional creative my entire career, and as Michael Jordan, I’m sure half my ideas are big ol’ bricks that bounce harmlessly off the rim. Did that stop me from trying again? No. I know those ideas will never see the light of day in a marketing campaign for a client. I just need to work through the bad ideas because sometimes they lead to great ones. And yes, there is always a little self-delusion involved, as you may have observed—I just compared myself to Michael Jordan.

But speaking of him, how many hours in the gym do you think Michael Jordan spent to develop his shooter’s mentality—to develop the confidence that he can make the shot because he has prepared and practiced it for years, leading up to that moment?

Like making a game-winning shot, great creative is not an accident. We find that a few simple steps can lead to great creative marketing, designed to help grow a business.

1. Do your homework.

Know your brand. Know your audience. Know your objectives.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen firsthand marketing created in a vacuum where the creatives brainstorm something witty and award-winningly clever. Then, they create the backstory of how they got there.

I’m sure you’ve seen it. It may be the TV commercial you laughed at but cannot remember the product or service advertised. That typically means the creative team did not align the core message with the brand. This is why I cannot tell most beer commercials apart; most are funny and enjoyable, but the concept seems to be interchangeable between brands.

Even in another language that ad works. But what makes their commercial specifically branded Heineken? If this ad agency got the Bud Light account, would it be any different?

The very word “brainstorm” can imply open-minded, free-thinking to a lot of people, and with that, give them the idea that no rules apply. I have been taught just the opposite: that there is freedom (and success) in rules.

Only when you have studied the demographics, compiled the survey results, looking at the history of the category…basically done your best to absorb every resource available to understand the market and objectives can you develop great contextually relevant, branded creative in a “blue-sky” brainstorming session. When all the homework is complete and the objectives are identified the next step is to…

2. Assemble a great team.

 You will NOT want to interrupt the big, green dude.

No man (or creative) is an island. Like the Marvel Avengers, everyone brings something to the party. This is the “secret sauce” of any great creative team. It helps to have the right mix of idea people and pragmatic or data-driven people. It also might be good to include a ringer, an outsider…maybe a freelance writer or a trusted vendor. We’ve invited improv actors. A sense of humor is always welcome on my team. One thing holds true for everyone in the room…


3. Brainstorm in a safe environment

The idea is to generate ideas. We find the best way to accomplish that is to have a balance between yin and yang, up and down, black and white and most importantly, YES and NO.

Poo-poo an idea, and Mr. Crabbie gets thrown at you.

No interrupting (let the idea get out!). No poo-pooing ideas (withhold criticism). No hierarchy in the room (everyone’s idea has equal value).

Yes to quantity (get as many ideas out as possible—this is where a “shooter’s mentality” is a real asset). Yes to welcoming an unusual idea (it may be “out there” but spark a hidden solution). Yes to combining, improving or “building” on an idea (also known as 1 + 1 = 3).

In this type of safe brainstorming environment, marketing professionals, like those at idc, can truly shine. We are prepared for the moment, the clock is running, and we are ready to score the winning shot (or develop that business-building campaign). 40+ years of practicing successful creative marketing have taught this team a thing or two about winning.

Do you have creative marketing questions? From digital to traditional marketing, we are always interested in helping you grow!

Founded in 1972, idc-marketing is the oldest advertising firm in Lafayette, Indiana. We are a full-service agency that helps companies grow business-to-business (B2B) and consumer-to-business (B2C) market share.