5 tips for running effective agency brainstorms

Thu, 30/01/2020 - 16:46

Coming up with those resonant creative ideas that everyone buys into is one of the biggest challenges facing advertising agencies in South Africa. How do you conceptualise something that not only satisfies the business’s objectives, but is interesting to the customer, and also unique? It’s a tall order, but here are some tips to help you make sure that your next brainstorm is less of a drizzle and more of a monsoon.

The right people

There are three kinds of people you need in every brainstorm. The sage has all the information with regards to what needs to be brainstormed. They'll have an understanding of the client, their business objectives, and what their measure of success is. The sage’s job is not only to contribute to the pool of ideas but also to steer the brainstorm in the right direction. The sage will understand the target market and be able to sense-check ideas. 

The second type of person needed is a visionary. The visionary is an out-and-out creative person. They aren’t constrained by things like budgets and mechanics. They’re all about the exciting and new. Ideally, the visionary should have a finger on the pulse of current trends, but should also play a bit of a futurist role. 

Finally, you need a mechanic. The mechanic is the person who ensures that ideas will actually work, that they’re feasible, and can be done with the right budget. Of course, in a room of ten people, you’re going to have multiple visionaries, mechanics and sages. That’s fine. But things get dangerous when you fill a room with just visionaries and expect the ideas to resonate with your target market and come in on budget. If you fill a room with mechanics; however, don’t expect anything to be exciting or interesting. A bunch of sages will usually just come up with what the client wants, no more and no less.

The right attitude

There is no such idea as a bad idea. Well, within a brainstorming context, that is. The challenge of brainstorming is to leave any hyper-critical attitudes at the door. If you’re in a room and you hear an idea you don’t believe will work, you need to do two things:

  1. Justify clearly why you don’t think an idea will work.

  2. Provide an alternative or an iteration of the idea that will work.

To shoot down ideas based on personal preference, without justification, is disheartening to the rest of the room and will curb creativity in a big way. Another attitude to avoid is a sense of hopelessness. The “they’ll never buy this” attitude is not going to help. Every great idea is worth pitching and re-pitching to anyone who will benefit from it. 

The right preparation

Walking into a brainstorm empty-handed is ill-advised. Ideally, there are three pieces of information which will be useful to a group of brainstormers. Firstly, a deep understanding of the target market. Secondly, a clearly defined set of objectives. Finally, a brief. It’s the sage’s job to provide these and to kick off with a recap of these pieces of information.

The right time

Ever been in an idea meeting at 3 pm on a Friday afternoon? It’s hell. Everyone is exhausted, and the chances of a great idea coming out are zero. The best time for a top digital agency in South Africa to brainstorm is first thing in the morning. 

The process

Don’t forget; there are a host of different tools out there for running brainstorms. Try exercises like body-storming, lotus blossoms or 6-in-5 to get the creative juices flowing. While brainstorms can be fun when people sit around and spitball, leading companies in digital marketing have realised that a bit of structure can help ease into the session.

There you have it, five tips that will turn your next digital marketing strategy brainstorm into a game-changer! 


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