As a marketing consultant I spend about half my time generating new ideas and half implementing.  New ideas can be tricky.  Brainstorming works great, especially when you have the right poeple in the room.  But that can take time to schedule, especially if you’re a small business owner.  The other choice, tapping into your own brilliance, as you probably have experienced, has its own problems: you can’t just sit down for the next hour with the intention of creating a great idea and expect it to happen.  In fact, that is probably the worst way to find a great idea, isn’t it?  When you chase it, it runs!

My secret formula for coming up with ideas?  Pay attention.  There are great ideas swirling around us all all the time.  We just have to pay attention.  Actually, let me qualify that.  There is the inspiration for great ideas swirling around us all all the time.  We just need to pay attention and make the connections.  What do I mean by that?  Glad you asked.

church-of-whats-happeningI’m in Silver City, New Mexico, a small but growing artist/environmentalist/hippie enclave (Santa Fe without the money) driving down a street and I see a sign outside a church like so many signs outside churches.  Except this on stopped me.  Believe me, with the exception of the sign, it was a very plain vanilla church; not one you’d expect to be the 1st Church of What’s Happening.  I thought, wow, what a great use of juxtaposition to create attention.  Then I thought, wow, one reason people go to church is to make sense out of what’s happening now, what a great way to drive that home.  THEN I thought, wow, what if we tried juxtaposition in the new release of LIMS-plus Version 4, forensic lab case management software a client of mine is introducing.  Eureka, lab rats!  A software vendor calling forensic scientists lab rats (they affectionately call themselves this) when talking to them about something as serious as  forensic lab case management software (trust me, this is very serious stuff) is quite a juxtaposition and ought to attract some attention.  We’ll see, the campaign goes live in about three weeks.

pull-me-over-pool-care-truck

You can’t see the sign on the back of this pool service truck, but it says something interesting.  First of all, every pool service truck as the company’s name, phone and sometimes their URL.  And in Arizona, about every 10th vehicle is a pool service truck.  This one says “If you’re having a problem with your pool, call me right now and I’ll follow you home.”  I thought, wow, now that’s smart, give people a way to take immediate action, and immediate gratification.  THEN I thought why not put a “free quote” form on every page of a pool remodeling client’s website.  Now we have a link to the form on every page.  The form on every page is more immediate.  This is not a game-changing idea, but I’ll bet you it translates into an additional 15 projects a year for the client.  Paying attention. . .

no-commission-billboard

This is a billboard for a realty company advertising no commission with the subhead: Now More Than Ever!  Now, I don’t use deceptive tactics and this appears to be one (no commission implies it’s free–it isn’t!).  But I was taken by the fact they are acknowledging the position home owners are in who want to sell their homes.  Uh, at least in Arizona, I think the technical term for someone wanting to sell their home right now: totally screwed.  So, good strategy: take a big potential objection “off the table” from the start (no commission).  This is similar to the offers you see on TV from the furniture stores; no payments until 2012!

I haven’t done anything with this one yet.  How about you?  What one major potential objection can you take off the table for your prospects?  Start paying attention and you’ll come up with some good marketing ideas of your own.