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- Thinking outside the Ad Box: How to execute creative ideation the right way
Thinking outside the Ad Box: How to execute creative ideation the right way
Creative ideation on steroids.
Spoiler alert: Long insightful post, ignore at your own risk.
Are you winging your ad ideas?
Well, let me tell you that you’re doing the ad creation the wrong way.
Actually, I was also doing it the wrong way until I met Nicole Crowell in our mastermind group. You know how you see an ad, you copy the format, slap a copy that already works, and voilá! – You have your ad? Well, that’s not how it is done.
In our mastermind call, Nicole taught us how to approach creative ideation from the ground up. And while you might not be in the group, you can get a glimpse of the content in this newsletter.
You might ask why…? Well, first I want you to be successful with ad ideas and second, it’s time for us to stop stealing: It’s time to start creating and thinking deeper in order to stand out on paid social.
More importantly, you’ve paid me with your attention and time – I think it’s only fair to share important highlights so you don’t miss out.
This content is part of Nicole’s course and she has been generous enough to share her intellectual property with us so we can level up. She has also spent $70 million and turned from a media buyer to a creative strategist.
Quick numbers for Nicole:
$70M+ spent in ad budget
Across 5+ platforms
She has worked with 70+ brands
She has created 10K+ creatives
In short, she knows what she is talking about.
Before we go any further if you take only one thing from this entire post, I want you to leave with these insights from our own Advertising god, David Ogilvy:
Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.
First, study the product you are going to advertise. The more you know about it, the more likely you are to come up with a big idea for selling it.
It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.
It will help you recognize a big idea if you ask yourself five questions:
Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
Do I wish I had thought of it myself?
Is it unique?
Does it fit the strategy to perfection?
Could it be used for 30 years?
Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.
Today’s newsletter is about how to study the product and the market for the purpose of creative ideation.
Creative ideation is the generation of new ideas and concepts. If you think you know a thing or two about creative ideas, it’s time to unlearn that.
Found in Nicole’s slides
Here’s why you should care about ideation (if you’re still not sold), you will:
come up with new solutions to problems
find new growth opportunities
make more money
stay ahead of the curve
The goal with ideation is to develop a large number of ideas to yield a creative roadmap to help you find those creative ideas that DEEPLY resonate with your audience.
And if you really care about ideation then please don’t make these mistakes:
Not evaluating and selecting the best ideas
Not gathering a diverse group of people
Not encouraging wild and unconventional ideas
Five-step framework to come up with compelling ideas
Step # 1 – Don’t do this alone (do it with people or with AI)
You need to have a diverse group of people. A genius idea can come from anyone, even a newly hired intern. You should ask these 7 questions to encourage your team.
What is your favorite way to generate new ideas?
What inspires you to think creatively?
What are some challenges or problems you're currently facing that you'd like to solve through ideation?
What are some things you've done in the past that have helped you come up with new and innovative ideas?
What are some obstacles you face when trying to come up with new ideas?
What are you excited to explore during the ideation session?
What are your expectations for the ideation session?
This will help you get clarity and alignment. Most importantly, you will get what you want.
Step # 2 – Align and Define
Before going to the meeting, here’s what you need to align with your team so you have a productive ideation session. Write these down and send it to your team members:
What is my goal or objective here? (Aka - Why am I ideating?)
Who am I targeting?
What platform or marketing channel is this for?
What awareness level is my audience at?
How sophisticated is my market?
We could dive more into this list, but I think you get the idea.
Do make sure that you discuss stages of awareness with the team (even I forget that sometimes):
Found in Nicole’s slides
Here’s a good article that explains the framework in great depth.
Step # 3 – Pick your prompt (how you strike gold)
Here we'll discuss multiple frameworks that can get you started with ideation.
Prompt # 1 – The Life Force 8 Framework from Cashvertising
Drew Eric Whitman labels the “Life Force 8” as the eight basic human instincts hardwired into every person:
Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension
Enjoyment of food and beverages
Freedom from fear, pain, and danger
Comfortable living conditions
To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses
Care and protection of loved ones
In other words, these are the eight things that people really want…more than anything else. We’re literally biologically programmed to pursue these eight desires.
These are virtual blueprints to persuade anyone’s mind. You don’t have to convince people, instead appeal to what they need.
Poll: Let me know if I should expand on this framework:
Should I create a post about how to use the Life Force 8 Framework for your ad copy?
Prompt # 2 – The Secondary 9 Human Wants Framework
Here are some more:
To be informed
Cleanliness of body and surroundings
Expression of beauty and style
Most importantly, you should ask yourself – Which prompts of the above two frameworks does YOUR AVATAR/PERSONA care about the most?
If you have a specific persona, then it will be easier. You’d get this from your research.
Prompt # 3 – Marketing to Mindstates (Emotional)
People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons. – Zig Ziglar
These are emotionally charged desires and a little bit different from the life force eight. They're not as innate, but they're emotionally charged.
So what do you want your consumers to feel when they see the ad?
Notice that this question is not focused on the product. You want to reframe this to: What does your customer want to feel when they see your ad? This reframe. The simple switch to this question makes it go from business focus to audience focus.
And this is where you want to be; transitioning from the goals of the business to the goals of the consumer. Then make sure that your ad is a good marriage between the two.
At the end of the day, I would even lean a little bit more toward the consumer focus, because: It's not about you. It's about your consumer. So to achieve a really great emotionally charged ideation session, ask yourself these 7 questions that Nicole uses when ideating.
Prompt # 4 – Emotionally charged questions
What is your avatar's biggest fear? – Comes from your persona research
Superhero – You could position yourself as a superhero
Worst Ideas – What are the most absurd angles you can think of?
Who's responsible? – point the finger – It’s like blaming someone for the problem and making them the enemy
Life without product/service
Find ideas from customer complaints
How would the government sell this?
You can find prompts in many more places such as FAQs, customer support issues, etc...
Step # 4 – Pick the best ideation technique and generate ideas
5 ideation techniques you need to use to come up with ideas:
Brainstorming: Generating ideas verbally. Good to do with a group of four or more people. Use a voice recording device and create a transcription (so you don't waste time taking notes).
Brainwriting: Written idea generation. This is good for larger teams. It’s good for you introvert types. This is for when you have the time to think and the time to write.
Reverse brainstorming: A cool technique that involves working backward.
Here’s an example from the slides:
Found in Nicole’s slides
This gets you clarity.
Six Thinking Hats: Basically you're going to ask your team to wear a specific hat type before you start generating ideas with whatever problem or prompt or problem statement you have. This will force your teams to use different perspectives to come up with new ideas.
Image source: Groupmap
Here is a good article on how to use it.
This technique teaches you a valuable lesson that if only one person generates ideas, it’s not enough.
Mind mapping: This is more of a visual brainstorming technique that involves creating some sort of diagram or map with a central idea highlighted in the middle. You can see each one of these has some sort of central topic and then branches out representing related ideas. So again, you can choose your central idea. You can use, say, the Life Force 8. You can do Survival in the middle and then you can start branching out to individual ads angles.
Found in Nicole’s slides
Let these help you create endless ideas for your future campaigns.
Step # 5 – Organize, evaluate, and prioritize
The next question is how to prioritize and evaluate them. You must have tons of ideas but which one to pick first is hard.
Nicole shared a creative idea box to help us prioritize these ideas.
Here’s her roadmap idea box:
Found in Nicole’s slides
Look between ease of build-out and impact in the above image, this should dictate your priority. It’s as simple as that.
This is how you take and make these ideas actually useful.
If so, sign up for the fully value-packed course here. People are loving it.
And here’s the feedback about her session in The Performers Slack channel.