No matter if you’re a marketing director, publisher, product developer or copywriter…one of the most important tasks you face every day is coming up with the next great idea.
And there’s no shortage of advice out there on how to do this.
There have been books written about it. Articles in trade publications. Blog post after blog post.
(I may have even written a blog post of my own about this and one of the techniques I’ve used previously.)
But today I want to take another trip down Memory Lane and tell you about one of the more powerful methods I’ve ever seen for generating new big ideas: a good, old-fashioned argument.
Now I’m not talking about throwing punches, furniture or keyboards.
But I am talking about a healthy disagreement where each “side” of the argument is forced to defend its position.
This is something I participated in with two clients in particular…and I first saw it in action at Agora back in the 1990s.
The truth is, having productive arguments that lead to new ideas is something that is more difficult these days. It just isn’t the same when conducted over Zoom or a Microsoft Teams meeting.
Instead, this type of creativity happens best organically – when people invested in a product are around each other on a daily basis.
This naturally leads to discussions of how to best sell or position a product. And from time to time this can trigger great brainstorming sessions that lead to a whole slew of new ideas worthy of testing.
But the truly great ideas, in my experience, rise to the surface only when they are challenged vigorously…and passionately defended.
Of course, in today’s more divided political climate this can also be trickier to navigate. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
As a product manager or marketing director, what do you think motivates your prospect? What keeps them awake at night? What types of news stories get their blood boiling?
Chances are you know the answers to those questions. So take those answers and start discussions with your creative team. (And if your creative team isn’t in-house, bring in trusted freelancers for a day or two of critical thinking and open-ended brainstorming.)
Have some difficult conversations. Take a position that you feel is important to your customers and prospects. And challenge anyone who disagrees with that position to convince you that you’re wrong.
I remember great arguments about political candidates running for office – some of which lead to great politically-themed direct mail packages.
I also remember long, involved arguments about the role government should play in our daily lives. These discussions included privacy, the role of the Federal Reserve, the true value of money…even security lines at the airport. And these arguments led to some hugely successful promotions.
Same goes for the health sector. I’ve been a part of long, heated arguments about opinions put forth by the Surgeon General…or mainstream articles suggesting things healthy people should “never” eat.
The key to success with these arguments is understanding that there is no specific outcome you should be targeting. And there can be no “winners” or “losers.”
Instead, the idea is just to trigger a flow of ideas, often about topics that aren’t discussed at cocktail parties.
At some point – whether the argument gets heated or not – you’ll notice that people are beginning to write things down…and new ideas are being formed.
These heated discussions can take some pretty interesting twists and turns – and you may not end up getting an idea that is even in the same neighborhood as where you began the conversation.
But in my experience, this technique has brought about some of the most successful marketing campaigns I’ve ever been associated with.
Jody Madron is a results-oriented copywriter with 30 years of breakthrough marketing experience. To learn how Jody can deliver results-boosting copy — ahead of your deadline — visit www.MadronMarketing.com.