Guides & Explainers

6 thinking strategies to try in your marketing brainstorming sessions

Published:
January 15, 2024
7
min read
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When it comes to marketing, brainstorming isn't just a meeting. It's the birthplace of remarkable ideas. This is where creativity flourishes and tactics take shape. Yet, effective brainstorming is more than just a random toss-up of thoughts. It's a smart process. Think of it as a toolkit filled with diverse thinking strategies. Yes, you heard that right! There are strategies for thinking. In this article, let’s delve into six powerful methods that elevate marketing brainstorming and drive impactful campaigns.

1. The Six Thinking Hats Method 

The Six Thinking Hats Method author is a pioneer in cognitive psychology Edward de Bono. He developed it in the 1980s as a revolutionary approach to problem-solving and creative thinking. 

The Six Thinking Hats Method is like having six different lenses to view ideas. It's a way to organize thinking by using different "hats" to explore ideas from various angles. In marketing brainstorming, this method helps teams approach problems systematically and creatively.

Here’s how it works. Each hat represents a different way of thinking: 

  • The white hat focuses on facts and data 
  • The red hat taps into emotions and gut feelings
  • The black hat deals with critical judgment
  • The yellow hat seeks positives
  • The green hat sparks creativity 
  • The blue hat manages the thinking process itself 

For instance, the red hat allows exploring how customers might feel about a new idea. While the green hat encourages generating fresh, out-of-the-box concepts.

Using the Six Thinking Hats brings numerous advantages. For instance, structured thinking and balanced viewpoints. However, it's not without limitations. Sometimes, it might oversimplify complex issues or stifle spontaneity. Understanding these benefits and limitations helps teams harness the method effectively during marketing brainstorming sessions.

2. Mind Mapping 

Mind Mapping is a brainstorming technique that visualizes the expansive web of ideas. This method offers a structured approach to exploring connections and sparking creativity. It's a fantastic tool for marketers seeking to organize thoughts and foster innovative concepts.

The advantages of Mind Mapping in generating innovative marketing ideas are manifold. It encourages nonlinear and holistic thinking. This helps enable connections between seemingly disparate concepts, as well as devise comprehensive strategies that captivate audiences. It encourages participants to contribute ideas freely and without constraints.

In a nutshell, Mind Mapping is like creating a visual roadmap of interconnected thoughts that branch out from a central theme or concept. Here's a more detailed explanation! 

  • Central theme or idea. At the core of a Mind Map lies a central idea. It could be a problem statement, a project goal, a product, or any concept you want to explore.
  • Branching thoughts. From this central idea, branches emerge, representing various related aspects or subtopics. These branches then further branch out into more specific details or ideas. All together they create a hierarchical and interconnected structure.
  • Visual representation. Mind Maps use shapes, colors, images, and keywords to represent all the ideas and their connections visually. This way it is easier for teams to grasp complex concepts and see connectedness between different elements.
  • Non-linear thinking. Unlike traditional note-taking or outlining, Mind Mapping allows for non-linear thinking. It encourages creativity by letting ideas flow naturally and enabling unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated concepts.
  • Problem-solving and planning. Beyond brainstorming, Mind Maps are helpful in problem-solving and planning. They provide a holistic view of a situation. This allows for better analysis and strategic planning.

Mind mapping can take shape either on traditional paper or through tailor-made digital tools. Its versatility shines across diverse situations, whether it's streamlining ideas for a marketing strategy, laying the groundwork for a business blueprint, or crafting the skeleton of an artistic endeavor.

3. SWOT Analysis 

In marketing brainstorming, it's crucial to have tools that help see the big picture. That's where SWOT analysis comes in. It's like a magnifying glass for your marketing ideas.

Imagine a square split into four sections. In one part, we jot down what we're good at (strengths), and in another, what we need to work on (weaknesses). Then, we have a piece for exciting opportunities we spot in the market, and finally, a piece for potential problems or threats.

First, you take a close look at business or ideas and spot what you’re great at (strengths). Next, you spot where you might need a boost (weaknesses). Then, you have a piece for opportunities in the market. And finally, a piece for potential problems or threats from competition or other challenges.

Let’s say your marketing team wants to launch a new product. Using SWOT might be a great idea before taking action. First, they’ll notice things like the product's best features (strengths) but might also see gaps in how they plan to sell it (weaknesses). They'd also spot chances in new trends (opportunities) but keep an eye on competitors (threats). 

What's great about SWOT is that it helps focus on what's working and where it is possible to improve. It's like a roadmap for making marketing plans stronger.

4. Pareto Analysis 

Pareto Analysis, named after Vilfredo Pareto, an economist, highlights the 80/20 rule. This rule suggests that around 20% of the causes lead to about 80% of the effects. It all started when Pareto noticed that roughly 20% of Italy's people owned about 80% of its land.

Pareto Analysis is like finding the most important things on a list. Sort of like picking out the juiciest, ripest fruits from a basket. Imagine you have a list of marketing ideas. Pareto Analysis helps you figure out which few ideas could make the biggest impact. Much like the way the best few fruits in a basket are the sweetest and most satisfying.

It works like this. Say you have ten marketing strategies on your list. Pareto Analysis helps you identify that maybe just two of these strategies are bringing in about 80% of your results. So, when a marketing team uses Pareto Analysis, they might realize that a couple of their strategies are bringing in most of the sales or engagement. This helps them focus more on these strategies and spend less time on the others that might not be as effective. 

To leverage Pareto Analysis effectively, consider these steps:

  • Data collection. Start by gathering data on various aspects of your project. Such as marketing strategies, product features, or issues in a process.
  • Quantify and rank. Quantify the impact or occurrence of each item in your dataset. Rank them based on their contribution to the overall results or issues.
  • Identify the vital few. Analyze the data to recognize the top-performing elements. You might discover that a small percentage (around 20%) of elements is responsible for a large percentage (around 80%) of the outcomes.
  • Focus on high impact. Once you identify these crucial elements, prioritize them. These are the areas where you should allocate more resources, time, or effort to maximize results.
  • Iterate and adapt. Regularly reassess your data to ensure your focus remains on the most impactful elements. As circumstances change, so might the significance of various factors. 

The power of Pareto Analysis lies in its ability to highlight the "big wins"—the strategies that bring the most impact. But, just like any tool, it has its limits. Sometimes, it might not consider every little detail or the potential of some smaller ideas. That's why combining Pareto Analysis with other brainstorming techniques helps create a more balanced marketing plan. 

5. SCAMPER Technique 

SCAMPER is a creative thinking technique developed by Bob Eberle in the early 1970s. This method is designed to stimulate innovative thinking by encouraging individuals to explore different angles and possibilities within an idea or product.

SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. Each letter represents a specific way to manipulate or approach an existing idea or concept.

Let's break it down:

  • Substitute. Swap parts or elements of your idea with something else.
  • Combine. Mix different elements or ideas together to see what you get.
  • Adapt. How about tweaking your idea to fit a different situation or audience?
  • Modify. Change or adjust aspects of your idea to make it better or different.
  • Put to another use. Think outside the box. Can your idea be used in a completely different way?
  • Eliminate. Strip away unnecessary parts or aspects of your idea.
  • Reverse. Flip things around—what if you did the opposite of what you initially thought?

The beauty of SCAMPER is its ability to take something ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. It's all about unlocking the potential in your ideas by playing with them in different ways! 

6. The Delphi Method

The Delphi Method is a structured communication technique designed to gather and consolidate expert opinions systematically. It was developed in the 1950s by the RAND Corporation. This method aimed to forecast future trends and make reliable decisions through the collective wisdom of experts. 

Here's a breakdown of how it works:

  • Structured communication. The Delphi Method uses a series of rounds where experts anonymously provide opinions or forecasts on a particular topic using surveys or questionnaires. Each round refines and consolidates opinions based on the feedback received.
  • Anonymity and iteration. Experts participate without knowing each other's identities. This prevents biases or influences. The iterative nature of the process allows for refining opinions in subsequent rounds based on a summary of previous responses.
  • Consensus building. Through multiple rounds, the method seeks to converge on a consensus or forecast that represents the collective wisdom of the experts involved.

The Delphi Method is great because it gathers your team's opinions without letting personal biases get in the way. It uses several rounds of organized discussions to combine different views and make better predictions or decisions. This way, the outcomes are more dependable than just relying on one person's ideas. 

Let's delve into how the Delphi Method might be applied by a marketing team in real life! Our instance will be a marketing team that is willing to forecast which social media platform may have the biggest impact on their target audience next year. Here's how they could use the Delphi Method: 

  • Initial survey. The team starts by creating a questionnaire. There it would be asked to anonymously provide opinions on the potential impact of various social media platforms. Each member lists their reasoning and ranks platforms based on expected impact.
  • Anonymity and iteration. Responses are collected and summarized without revealing individual identities. The team leader compiles the data. It’s also crucial to highlight common trends and divergences. This revised survey will be sent out for a second round. The process continues for several rounds, refining opinions based on the collective input received.
  • Consolidation of insights. As rounds progress, the team sees a convergence of opinions regarding the platforms with the most potential impact. Through this iterative process, they narrow their focus to two primary platforms consistently highlighted by the experts.
  • Decision making. With the insights gathered from multiple rounds, the team uses this collective wisdom to guide their decision-making process. They allocate resources and strategize marketing efforts, prioritizing two platforms based on the consensus reached through the Delphi Method.

This way, the marketing team can leverage the collective expertise of its members while avoiding individual biases.

Mixing thinking strategies for better marketing

You might have thought that thinking is a chaotic process, but it can be directed to your advantage! Incorporate these thinking strategies into your marketing brainstorming sessions, and witness how creativity transforms into efficiency. Remember, successful marketing campaigns often arise from combining these diverse thinking strategies. Embrace a mix of structured analysis, creative manipulation, and collective wisdom in your brainstorming sessions to unleash their full potential. Get ready for groundbreaking ideas and impactful campaigns! 

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