Ideas Are Cheap

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In a recent post I was wondering how MANY ideas are enough to present to clients … and then this article over at Chuck Frey’s Innovation Weblog got me thinking further.

The reason that it is easy to throw so many ideas at a client is because they are CHEAP to produce. Even good ideas are a dime a dozen! Many marketers and creatives can generate hundreds of ideas in a single brainstorming session … some may later be discarded, or modified, or otherwise transformed — but the problem is not the NUMBER of ideas. The problem is not even the QUALITY of the ideas. The problem is in their COMPLIANCE — how easy are the ideas to implement or execute?

In a busy world, the Compliant Idea is going to win. It will win with your boss and will probably win with your clients … it will probably also win with your audience. The Compliant Idea will have a wrap-around story, it will have an infectious nature and it will be easily transportable. Most importantly, it will allow your audience to pick it up and run with it.

Of course, even the most compliant of ideas are going to provide challenges when it comes to implementation, which is where all good ideas are tested (as are way too many bad ones). But you will see and hear a Compliant Idea from miles away … they sound like steam trains. They give my friend Katie goosebumps.

If ideas are cheap (and they are), keep brainstorming until you find one that gives you goosebumps. Keep going until you hear the whistle blowing, then climb aboard for the ride.


Update: Also see the category on Compliant Ideas.

With thanks to Mike Wagner for the link to Diego Rodriguez’s Metacool.

Title courtesy of Spell with Flickr.


Sometimes You Just Don’t

I am loving the hypertext today … it started with a definition of design quoted on Guy Kawasaki’s blog:

Design consists of creating things for clients who may not know what they want, until they see what you’ve done, then they know exactly what they want, but it’s not what you did.

But then following it to its source, the discussion of design opens out further.

All this goes to heart of what it means to be creative while working within a business environment. There are always going to be compromises, there are always going to be tensions … and yet we expect that the creative process will be smooth. As we push our creative teams to come up with yet another innovation, or something that "we have never seen before", we should also be making sure that we are open to something that might surprise us.

As Seth Godin says, we may not know creativity or innovation … but we will know success when it "smashes us in the face". Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), in the business world, creatives are not the ones who make the decisions on risk … it is the entrepreneur who has to take on, manage and accept risk. That is their job. Sometimes they just don’t see the creativity or innovation … but it is YOUR job to communicate it to them and lead them through the signals and noise. And sometimes, just sometimes, you need to put your arse on the line. Just make sure you believe your idea because you are going to need a thick hide!


Update: this article seems to be getting a bit of attention at the moment … take a look also at this more recent post on difficult people, as well as Russell Davies’ discussion here.

Building Blog Traffic the Easy Way

I am constantly surprised by the number of posts, books, articles or consultancies out there who offer to help you build your blog traffic "the easy way". There are tips, tricks, discussions, YouTube videos … anything you could possibly want, but at the end of the day, blogging comes down to discipline. If you spend as much time actually thinking and writing as you do chasing links and downloads … then … surprise, surprise … you may end up with a blog that is useful or interesting to us readers.

Darren Rowse is a well-known blogger and is responsible for the ProBlogger website and has a lot of practical tips on blogging. It is a great source of information because it deals with all the blogging issues in a simple, problem solving way. This post in particular has a great link through to advice for launching your blog.

And, of course, once you get to Yaro’s blog there is plenty more to read! But then we are back to reading and NOT writing. So while there are plenty of links to follow, things to read and so on … none of this means anything if you don’t actually DO something. Please write. Give it a go. Send me a link and I will read it — there are plenty of others out there who will do the same (read Mike Wagner’s blog for inspiration).

But don’t just think you can do it easily. Readers come to you one link at a time!


Good Sunday Reading

It looks like Sundays are becoming my blog reading night (sorry Russell, but this is another late night activity). I have happily found a heap of new sites as well as plenty of great reading at those I have on my blog roll. There is the user guide to Open Space Technology that Chris Corrigan and Johnnie Moore are so enamoured with (thought I would finally give up my resistance and take a look), one of my new favourite blogs by Mike Wagner and this thought provoking piece by Russell Davies on the future of media.

Russell follows this on with a link to marktd. What a great concept! Submit your own articles, or those of others you find interesting … and the articles will be marked (ranked) by marketing professionals all around the world. Cool … now that is loving the hypertext.

Oh … and just following the hypertext over at marktd … and found this. Not a bad wrap up of global creative work each friday.

Small Talk for Shy People

It is funny the way the difference between how you see yourself and how others see you. For example, I consider myself quite shy, but others think of me more of a "serious" person. So as a shy-serious person I often find it difficult to make small talk.

So imagine my joy at finding this. Mike Wagner (I am sure nobody has ever accused him of being shy) provides the following questions that will engage people while simultaneously provide you with those small talk topics that can be so hard to think of:

  • Family – Where’s home, originally, for you? Do you have brothers and sisters? Where do you fit in the pecking order?
  • Occupation – How do you make a living? Has it been a good experience working there?
  • Recreation – When you’re not working, what do you do for fun?

Write these down, memorise them, and then go talk to someone you don’t know! Woah … I am getting cold shivers just thinking about it.


Stop 5 Times to Get Started

I was reading Olivier Blanchard’s Brand Builder blog this evening and ended up here. I am always up for a quick, 5-step-plan — but even better this one is five stops. Perhaps that means I can have a coffee in between each one.

What Mike Wagner focuses on with these five stops is that someone actually has to OWN a brand.  If you want to build a brand, you have to make it yours. You have to take it out into the world and give it an airing, you must risk the uncertainty of the market, you have to put your creative neck on the block and hope that the axe is a bunch of flowers. You have to be resourceful and you have to leave your ego behind — because you are only going to succeed with the help and support of others.

Read Mike’s post for more insight into the steps/stops … but it is clear that one of the fundamentals of this is to put your SELF forward (see the name of Mike’s blog). This is more than just "living the brand" … this is actively embodying the brand. So if you want to bring your brand to life, read the five stops and get to it. Good luck!


Late Night Web Cruise

Being the lightweight that I am, I was in the mood for a bit of late night hypertext loving and found these guys through Russell Davies. I love the way that they talk about engaging people … not as an end in itself, but as a form of relationship.

Too often we treat engagement or capturing attention as our objective. Can we use a smart line or  a strong visual to distract someone long enough for them to take notice of us? Well yes. But then, once we have that attention, what do we do? Do we make a particular point, or do we try to start a journey together?

Do we prompt an action or pose a question?

I am sure you know the answer.


A Word Makes All the Difference

I was listening to the radio on my way to work this morning and heard a couple of words that made my ears tingle! The words were "organisational renewal".

A few years ago, when I worked at IBM, I was particularly interested in "organisational change". I was fascinated by the complex play between work culture, technology, business and process … and mostly by the power of words to help implement and achieve the type of change that we were aiming for.

I like the sound of organisational renewal. I like the sense of momentum it holds and the potential for positive change that it suggests. Mostly I like the way it repositions the concept of "organisational change" which tends to sound very institutional rather than part of the life of a company.

What do you think?