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7.5 Tips for Becoming a Brainstorming Genius


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Katie Fetting's sermon on why what you say is rapidly becoming less important than how you say it. Learn to brainstorm content that's clearer, wittier, and cooler than your competition.

Published in: Education, Technology, Business

7.5 Tips for Becoming a Brainstorming Genius

  1. Katie Fetting @KatieLFetting 7.5 TIPS FOR BECOMING A BRAINSTORMING GENIUS The Portent Webinar Series
  2. (Yes, use .co, not .com)
  3. Tweet questions now & later #PORTENTU
  4. First things FIRST
  5. Just who is this ÒKatie FettingÓ?
  6. In the beginning... I was once a child (with dubious fashion sense, obviously)… My brainstorming began early when I was called upon to explain a variety of odd occurrences in our home… for example why there was a puffy Cheeto in my brother’s nose… or who was playing in the car, left it in neutral and walked off… True story. They found it in a ditch. Anyway, back then the results of my brainstorming were referred to as “lying,” but now I like to call it creativity.
  7. Editor / Designer I was a journalist from sophomore year of high school until I was about 23. I worked for a syndicate of small newspapers in the Chicago area after college – which is most noteworthy because we had very few resources… meaning I had to be very resourceful, which included a lot of brainstorming.
  8. Screenwriter Then I became a screenwriter. I wrote two amazingly derivative sub- par movies. On the other hand, Hollywood LOVES amazingly derivative sub- par movies, so you would have thought I’d be more successful. I DID however, write some unique scripts, which I brainstormed on non-stop… I’m hoping to see them produced and released in honor of my 90th birthday.
  9. Brand Manager Content Dynamo And now, I’m the Brand Manager at Portent, and a Content Dynamo. (One of those titles is official… I leave it to you to determine which.) But MORE THAN ANY OF THESE THINGS… I am
  10. Someone who has never given a webinar.
  11. Instilled with confidence? Let us continue.
  12. Notes on this webinar
  13. Notes on this webinar • Brainstorming Brainstorming is for everyone. Not just content people. And not just marketers. Brainstorming is about problem solving.
  14. Notes on this webinar • Brainstorming • MacGyver If you think about it, MacGyver was an amazing brainstormer, constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to build bombs out of bubble gum and paperclips. While MacGyver was a one-man brainstorm, brainstorming in groups often presents better results – a variety of viewpoints and ideas generally leads to the best outcome.
  15. Notes on this webinar • Brainstorming • MacGyver • Marketers While brainstorming IS for everyone, this presentation will focus on brainstorming for marketers – campaigns, blog posts, branding, videos, speaking topics – because I’m a marketer and I’m guessing you are too.
  17. There are no new ideas. So this is a slight exaggeration, but I come from Hollywood, remember? For every Inception, there are a zillion Pirates of the Caribbean 17’s and Ironman 43’s.
  18. For example, Batman as an idea, as a character, is Batman, no matter how many times they remake it. Same alter ego, same tragic backstory, same skills, same core “product”… Even the villains are often recycled. So what’s the difference between Tim Burton’s Batman films and Christopher Nolan’s?
  19. THE POSITIONING OF BATMAN Burton’s Batman is fairly upbeat and certainly less tortured – more in line with the 60s TV show – and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne is downright nerdy. Nolan’s Batman is damaged, dark, sorrowful… his Bruce Wayne is a suave womanizer who seems to always know what to say… Same core product, different interpretation and positioning.
  20. Product Positioning Messaging Content To differentiate your product or service from your competitors’, you need to carve out a unique position in the market… Christopher Nolan’s unique positioning? This is a complex, gritty take on the Batman tale for fans and film snobs alike. Then messaging needs to support this positioning. The messaging that supports gritty Batman: The Batman character is tragically damaged and dwells in a world not unlike our own. The horrors of his world are merely heightened versions of our own.
  21. Product Positioning Messaging Content BRAINSTORMING Content is then generated around that messaging. In this case, the content is the film itself – the script, art direction, lighting, cinematography, editing, music, you name it. It’s a unified delivery of a newly positioned Batman product. But it all begins with brainstorming… trying to see something familiar in a new light.
  22. BRAINSTORMING: One method of generating a fresh position or message
  23. SO WHAT? Why do I want a fresh position? Remember when I said brainstorming was basically problem-solving? Well, for marketers, that problem is often: how do I separate myself from the pack? How do I convince consumers that my widget is the best widget, all widgets being fairly equal? A fresh position or message is often the only way to differentiate yourself from your competition – which leads to greater visibility, likeability, and sales.
  25. • Open-minded • Creative • Educated • Collaborative • Secure • Curious Open-minded: Willing to hear others’ opinions and evolve their own Creative: Able to see from new perspectives Educated: Not necessarily in the academic sense, but they have a wide and broad background of experience to draw on Collaborative: Isn’t overly obsessed with “putting their stamp” on everything… this is the enemy of good brainstorming Secure: Doesn’t see every amendment to their initial concept as an attack Curious: Constantly striving for something new and better… the impression of new and better are two core necessities for brand positioning
  27. #1 Not verbalizing everything
  28. #2 Dwelling in preconceived notions
  29. #3 Pulling rank Brainstorming is a democracy. If only the top exec in the room was entitled to voice their opinion, the brainstorm would be unnecessary. Let everyone’s ideas breathe… Then evaluate and categorize them LATER.
  30. #4 Not listening
  31. #5 Getting down in the weeds
  32. #6 Making someone feel dumb
  33. #7 Blocking Blocking is refusing to engage and putting up unnecessarily road-blocks to the detriment of the brainstorm. The term comes from comedy improv… when you’re working with a partner – and ‘with’ is the key term – you need to feed off each other. A block would be when one person begins a story or character and the other person refuses to support them and go along with the narrative the first person has created.
  34. #7.5 Showing up too drunk... or too sober
  35. STORY TIME: LetÕs take a break As I was thinking up a story to tell here, I got blocked. Every story I brainstormed didn’t seem to really fit my topic… I mean I could tell you about the time I forgot what ketchup was. Or why my roommates in college put a roll of toilet paper outside their closet with the sign “this is not a bathroom.” Or the time I told Charlize Theron I didn’t write a script for her, but if Nicole Kidman passed she’d be great. I could tell any of these stories… but none seemed to fit. So that’s my story. The point is, sometimes self-referential works. There’s almost always something you can write about – even if it’s just writer’s block.
  36. And weÕre back to regularly scheduled programming.
  38. #1 Be self-critical Anticipate criticisms of your brand and head them off – use FAQs and complaints. Ask yourself, what is it people don’t like about your product? Or think they don’t like about it? Is there a way to turn that into a positive? We have a client who is only accessible to Seattle-ites via ferry. Many people find this annoying – they want to drive. It seems like a hassle. So we’ve crafted content around how fun ferries are – best board games to play on ferries, X reasons ferries are romantic, etc. Answer questions and issues before they are asked.
  39. #2 Think about your mom My boss Ian Lurie says when he’s brainstorming he thinks about the last person he saw walking into work that day. Well, we work in Pioneer Square, so that person may be a lawyer or a homeless fella, a bailbondsman or a sandwich ‘engineer’ at Subway – or, of course, some combo therein. Generally, I start with my target market and a goal relating to it and work backwards.
  40. #2.5 Ask a little kid Little kids are marvelous. Just look at the AT&T campaign running right now. (I mean, I want a puppy brother to take to show and tell, too.) Kids’ ways of looking at things are so unique, they can’t help but inspire some out-of-the- box thinking. I mentioned in my blog post how my 7-year-old cousin said she wished she had a magnet in her back so she could sleep on the ceiling. Amazing. Kids love to be asked things, and unlike adults, will give you their unfettered, apolitical opinion. For example: Me: Do you like my haircut. Kid: No.
  41. #3 Think about Tom Cruise Use metaphors. A great metaphor can make even the most tired topic seem fresh.
  42. What we did We had a client who wasn’t grasping a concept our Director of Accounts was trying to explain. She asked me how I would explain it to a layperson. The concept was 70-20-10… a content strategy that gives an ideal ratio for creating various types of branded content (see chart left). So I looked for a metaphor – an easy one that most people have in common.
  43. What we did Tom Cruise. And he is a risk-taker on occasion, but truly someone who generally sticks to his core competency – which fit our message. Turned it into a infographic for two reasons: 1.) couldn’t get the rights to the photos themselves and 2.) we knew more people shared infographics And what happened?
  44. #4 Research Whenever I’m jammed up for ideas, I start surfing. Ideas build on each other… Staring at a blank Word doc on a monitor never helped anyone. Browse the news sites, bounce around Wikipedia, read your clients’ sites… You never know where the inspiration will come from.
  45. #5 Use a tool
  46. #6 Change your world One ad agency used to switch everyone’s desks every week to keep them from becoming too entrenched in one spot, and thus, mindset. Other agencies have people sitting in canoes. Or conference rooms painted like basketball courts. Why? Because environment affects creativity. It affects how you see the world. So change your perspective. Go outside, breathe the air, go to a museum, live in all of your senses… You’ll find you’ll approach your brand with fresh eyes.
  47. #7 Borrow Don’t steal people. That’s lame. And usually illegal. Make something your own. You wouldn’t steal this sugar from your neighbor… You’d borrow it and make something better… Maybe a cake or cookies.
  49. #8 Choose a facilitator This guy looks really inspirational. Note: Not a “leader” – a leader would defeat the whole purpose of the democratic exchange of ideas… but a person who can solicit opinions, write on the board and keep things moving along is A-OK.
  50. #9 Come in with ideas Sometimes it’s hard to get the storm started. If everyone comes in with a few ideas jotted down, it’ll be easier to get the ball rolling. Even the worst idea can spark some discourse that may turn into a great idea. In screenwriting, they call it the “bad pitch” or the “bad version” – “So, this is the bad pitch, but there should be like this mean girl in the Civil War who just wants to get home, but then a lot of stuff happens.” That bad pitch is now “Gone with the Wind.”
  53. (Yes, use .co, not .com)
  54. Me: @KatieLFetting