Great ideas are what drive campaigns, differentiate clients from their competitors and what allow us as consultants to deliver value. They are integral to our work and therefore, great importance must be placed on being able to generate quality ideas – often at the drop of a hat.
Unlike the cartoons, light bulbs don’t often appear above my head. So what goes into an idea and what is required to make an idea a good one?
For me, the foundation of a good idea is knowledge. Knowledge quite simply is making oneself aware of the right information to achieve your client’s objectives. This could be information about an individual, an industry, a journalist or a competitor – and then being able to interpret this information in an advantageous way for your client. What issues are key in a certain sector? What calendar hooks could be leveraged? What does a particular journalist like to do on their weekend?
Add to knowledge, the art of creative thought, a.k.a blue sky thinking, thinking outside the box – the list of adjectives is endless. Call it what you like, these sayings are all talking about the same thing – the ability to think laterally and seek out an alternative answer to a problem. And next up are the analytics – assessing whether the idea has legs. Will the outcomes from the idea support the underlying business objectives? Here again, knowledge is key. Only those with the same knowledge will be able to judge the strength of the idea.
All three factors are imperative to generating good ideas. Creative thinking alone is not enough. The above aside, a good idea doesn’t necessarily have to be a new idea and as Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today once said, “Never hesitate to steal a good idea”.