When developing new products and strategies, coming up with unique ideas is often a struggle. It is one of the reasons why, in any industry, there is so much repetition. One way to generate new ideas and get the creative juices flowing is by completing brainstorming exercises using props. There are several ways to incorporate brainstorming into a new product development session. Two of my favorite techniques are utilizing goodie bags and skimming business publications.
There’s nothing more boring than a sterile conference room. Yet, this is where many new product development sessions take place. To liven the atmosphere, you need a springboard — stimuli to get the ideas flowing.
One technique for providing stimuli is to gather miscellaneous items into “goodie bags” and have brainstorming groups sort through them, writing down ideas as they occur. As seasonal Marketing Manager for Nestlé’s Sunmark Division several years ago, I used this technique to hold a very productive new product development brainstorming session. In preparation, we filled colorful gift bags with small items that would stimulate new product ideas because of their texture, taste, appearance, ingredients, sound, or smell.
In the meeting, we divided the team into sub-groups of three to four people and gave each a bag. After digging through the bags, discussing, and writing down ideas, each group gave a small presentation. We came out of the meeting with many more great ideas than we could implement that year and it was fun for everyone involved.
If you do not have a group to work with, try using business newspapers and prominent trade journal as springboards for generating ideas. These can be effective brainstorming tools for several reasons:
Additionally, many print publications have integrated the Internet into their traditional business models. Besides offering both online and offline versions, many provide email alert services. Because they have successfully integrated online marketing into their own business, writers and editors are able to intelligently address both online and offline strategies, which in turn will create a more productive brainstorming session for you.
Both trade journals and goodie bags can be used for other strategies besides new product development. They can also be used as techniques to generate ideas for online products and services, new marketing strategies, business taglines, and more.
Whether brainstorming alone or in a group, remember two rules: 1) no censoring and 2) use props as springboards for new ideas. Do this and your brainstorming session is sure to be a success.
Bobette Kyle draws upon 12+ years of Marketing/Executive experience, Marketing MBA, and online marketing research in her writing. Bobette is proprietor of the Web Site Marketing Plan Network and author of the marketing plan and Web promotion book “How Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Website Marketing For Small Budget Business.”