In Marketing Strategy

Improve Your Creative Process to Build More Successful Concepts

At the Inbound 2014 Conference in Boston, I attended a great session with Mark Johnstone, the VP of Creative at Distilled, an online marketing agency with offices in London, New York, and Seattle. The presentation, called “Big Client Ideas: How to Make Them Happen” lured me in…I have big ideas for my clients, after all, and I sure as heck want to make them happen! But, Mark quickly got my ego in check when he went through the six criteria of an idea that will “stick and spread,” a concept he borrows from Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath…who in turn borrow theories from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.

The Six Criteria for Successful Ideas

So how do you know if your idea is a good one? Per Mark and the Heath brothers, examine whether it meets these six criteria. Is it:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected/novel
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. A good story

Let’s say you and I are trying to come up with the next big creative idea for our client. We have brainstormed and considered the potential of each concept. We should then apply the six criteria to see if the idea has what it takes to stick and spread. Consider where in the six criteria your thought may be weak. If you determine the concept cuts the mustard, tell your client HOW and WHY the idea works. These six criteria aren’t exactly formal qualitative research, but they are a good indicator of the likelihood of success.

idea manFive Ways to Improve the Creative Process

In his presentation, Mark suggested some ways that the development of creative concepts can be enhanced. When formulating ideas:

  1. Focus on what’s different about your idea than others that have come before it.
  2. Give your idea room to grow; thoroughly explore its potential.
  3. Choose pain up front. Be critical of your ideas; if it isn’t working, rip off the band-aid and move on to the next concept.
  4. Sell your client on the why…why the idea works; why it is valuable.
  5. Keep the process on track using the six criteria. Again, if an idea just isn’t working out, time to break-up and move on.

So next time you are trying to come up with a big idea for your client, consider using these processes and tips to set you on the right course during your creative journey.

Overwhelmed by the concept of managing a “big” idea? Here’s a blog I wrote about how those little thoughts you have might actually be bigger than you think: The Next Little {Marketing} Idea

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