13 Platinum Principles to Generate New, Original & Creative "Ideas"
Is there really anything new - or originial - under the sun? Ever?
Sure, we like to think "new", exciting, unusual, one-of-a-kind.
Yet, truly new is rare. There are just so many Alexander Graham Bell,
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford types. Or from longer ago - Leonardo da Vinci.
Yes, A Whack on the Side of the Head goes just so far toward creative
In my "how to ... " creative seminars I suggest you "steal
the idea, salt and pepper it, change it to italics, bold it - make it
fit your needs ... make it your own". Not really new - just different.
The same principles apply to all creative thinking, not just copy and
art from the advertising and marketing world.
And, I firmly believe 1+1 = 4. How's that? Well, if I have 1 idea and
share it with you, and you have 1 idea and share it with me, we each now
have 2 ideas. Our own, plus that given to us. A total of 4 ideas.
If you accept this concept you'll believe 1+1+1= 9, too. Right? Right!
You get the idea. Still, you may suggest your original idea does not
change when you give it to me. I think it does. Each of us add our own
flavor, our own twist. I put salsa on your idea and you mix mine with
butter and salt. That makes them "different". Maybe even "new".
Alex Osborn is a teacher of creativity. So is Gerard Nierenberg. These
gents helped me think "creatively". I've combined their thinking
with my experience. It all comes together to bring you 13 Platinum
Principles to Generate New, Original & Creative "Ideas".
Creative Idea #1.
Look to allied - and completely different - industries
Some feel they learn nothing from their competition. From many
I've heard "I do the opposite of my closest competitor ... I need
to be seen as different".
Sure, there are times this is probably the best marketing approach to
take. Yet, you can learn from what others do - especially
from those you go head-to-head with. This is true if your clients and
prospects consider the other guys "successful". What are they
doing "right"? Can you do a version of the same - even if it
is "your way"?
Equally true is the ability to learn from those in completely different
businesses. A single location small retailer will find a useful idea from
a regional size wholesaler. A business-to-business manufacturer from a
business-to-consumer direct seller.
Use the senses ... touch, see, hear, smell, taste. And then apply what
Creative Idea #2.
Substitute something, just like a good recipe
I like to eat. And - very fortunately - my life has always encompassed
a good cook.
Frequently I hear from the kitchen; "I don't have _____,
I'll use ____ instead". The meal is just a tad different ...
and just as tasty.
Well, the same principle applies to generating new ideas. For writers
- especially in English, where we have 625,000+ words to choose from -
substituting is something that happens on every page. Every paragraph.
It certainly happened with this article.
In graphics it might be color. Type. Size. Shape. Layout. Format. There
are many, many options.
Production variables are numerous today, too. With everything from single
copy on-line personalization capabilities to in-line multi-color million
Planning is another area where substitution can play. Yes, there are
formulas and systems and processes to planning. Yet, there are not
So, think ... and substitute.
Creative Idea #3.
Combine it with something else,
maybe yours, maybe another's
The automobile manufacturing industry is good at combining. So are telecommunications,
computers and food companies. They each take a base product and mix it,
combine it with something else.
The car people are building vehicles with as many amenities as my first
house. The phone companies have combined voice, fax, online services into
the same product. Computer firms mix software and hardware. And then build
relationships with entertainment, news, sports and other services. Combining.
Food services are available in any combination you wish - name it and
someone is doing it. Whatever it takes.
Value is a key factor in every buy / sell decision. Convenience is another
element many consider. You will add value to your service when you combine
it with something. By offering extra value you are making your offer more
The combine concept is not original - it does work.
Creative Idea #4.
The word "adopt" sometimes does not always apply.
Neither creativity nor planning follow a mathematical formula. There
are guidelines. Direction. And "yes", you must focus. Still,
thinking can be considered random. Certainly it ebbs and flows. You may
need to take an idea you're working with and adapt it to a new, different,
unusual, special situation.
Connecting the dots or working by the numbers does not always work. Be
flexible ... be willing to adapt.
Creative Idea #5.
Magnify your approach
Why stay where you are? Why keep things the way they've always been?
Why leave things the same size?
Make your idea bigger. Bigger than it already is. OR, make your idea
smaller. Smaller than it already is. Magnify it up, or magnify it down.
Either way make it a big deal!
Use a microscope or magnifying glass and blow your idea to the next level.
Or the next.
Friends recently bought a new mobile home. A self-drive 34' vehicle.
It is truly their home ... they live in it / out of it year 'round. Talk
about magnifying. This home has nearly everything I have in my 3200+ square
foot house. All magnified ... in this case "down" to fit the
Magnify your approach.
Creative Idea #6.
... or add to it
Sometimes a simple up or down size change won't do it. So, add
to what you already have. Embellish it.
Every industry does this. Airplane manufacturers began with single seaters
and now 500+ climb inside the bird in the sky. Auto builders add and add
and add accessories. Financial companies add an additional service to
Manufacturers add to their selection by giving you a choice of colors.
No longer is it any color you want ... as long as that color is black.
They've added to their line.
Add as an idea applies to every aspect of your business. Add can be ways
to pay. Credit or debit card. Over time. With a bank transfer. By check.
Or money order. Online. Ditto places to buy; in your store or office,
at another retail or wholesale location, at a trade show or conference,
over the WWW.
When you "add" to what you offer you change what you offer.
Creative Idea #7.
Modify your approach
To modify may be the most difficult of the 13. Even more than a completely
Why? Well, because so often a pattern is set and we follow it. We just
follow it. We do whatever it is we do because it is there. And we've done
it before. It is so comfortable, it is easier to keep going the same way,
vs. doing something else.
Think modification. Ask "what if" I go that way, or this way?.
Think, what happens when I don't walk the usual route? When I go
a different direction. When I think a different thought. A revised approach.
Yes, although this may be the most difficult to "think", it
may also be the easiest to do. Why? Because the change is frequently small.
It's a small add here - a little subtract there. And most often it is
quick, too. You just do it - and move on. Give it a try and keep going.
Next time you need to think "new", think modify.
Creative Idea #8.
Put it to some other use
Looking for a different or expanded audience for your product / service?
Thinking of another way to use what you already have?
Experience has shown clients are full of great and wonderful ideas. And
often are already putting your product "to some other use".
Frequently it is because they had a problem to solve - so, they just did
it. Often someone on the line saw a need, put it together and "bang",
a new use.
Visit your customers. Make calls with your field force. Listen in at
your teleselling center. Go to trade shows. Read industry publications.
Stay in touch - it's amazing what ideas will pop to the surface.
Creative Idea #9.
Eliminate something, a "piece" of the action
It's obvious; if you can add, you can take away. You can eliminate.
The key is testing to know what you can eliminate and still move forward.
With creativity for advertising / marketing testing is fairly easy. You
set a grid and measure results. You drop the brochure from the mailing.
You try a 3/4 vs. full page in the newspaper. You go for a 30 second over
a 60 second spot. Online you try different sizes, colors and offers that
pull the prospect to your web site. Or different E-mail messages.
Planning / strategy is easy, too. You just don't do a piece of
the process. You'll quickly learn if you left a key element out - or not.
And respond accordingly.
In manufacturing it is less art. More science. How do you make a decision
on what to eliminate? Well, you do it in combination with R&D. Plus,
with surveys with your customers. You'll learn what factors are truly
important ... i.e., needs. And which are just "nice" to have.
To eliminate is a guts move. Yet, just as you build, you can unbuild.
Creative Idea #10.
Re-Arrange anything - everything ...
build a different puzzle
There are certain ways to do certain things. We are taught there
are "rules" ... at least guidelines.
Yet, ask; "who says?" And "why?" Because when you
ask, no matter the answer, you will begin to think differently. The senses
- mentioned earlier ... smell, taste, hear, see, touch ... go to work.
Re-arranging the order may be an obvious option. Or at a minimum, a serious
No two people build a puzzle the same way. Each comes together in a different
order. Ditto for business issues. Planning. Creative. Finance. Production.
Customer Service. Shipping. Human resources. The back-end.
Have an open view on how to make things happen. Think about doing it
a different way.
Creative Idea #11.
Reverse your approach ... do it backwards ...
do it upside-down, or inside-out
One way to build a schedule - to meet a date or deadline - is
to look ahead, and work backwards.
So, why not think creatively backwards, too?
Management works best with set objectives. Know what objectives you have
for your specific project, program, campaign. Know what is expected. What
is needed. Be clear. Be specific. Know what road you are on - and where
you're going. Have a focus. A direction.
And then reverse the entire approach - do it backwards. Back up. Meaning
- start at the end and end at the start. This is tough to do. Mentally.
Most projects work "up". You climb a ladder. From top to bottom.
Yet, why not think you're at the top - heading down?
Or think inside-out. Most building is done with the shell first. The
outside. The details and inside follow. That's how construction works.
Yet, for thinking, maybe, just maybe, it'll work just as well in reverse.
No matter which of these variations you use, you'll be doing a lot of
"assuming". Yet, so what? What you're trying to do is make something
happen with a better end result. How you get there is not nearly as important
as getting there. And meeting the objective.
Creative Idea #12.
Bring back the "ole days" - dive into history
You may do well by looking at history.
History is full of foundation concepts. If you ignore these basics you
throw away a collection of knowledge. And many "simple" ideas
that still work.
Yes, you'll need to update for the 21st Century marketplace. With an
overlay of the electronic age. With full use of the databases of experience.
Knowledge not easily accessible in the past.
History is people, too. The database inside the head of these people
holds invaluable stories, examples, cases, facts and figures.
When you visit the library, the web and those in the business, ask and
listen. And take good notes.
Creative Idea #13.
Leonardo says express "Curiosita"
This is how Leonardo da Vinci said it in Italian.
In English the word is curiosity. The dictionary definition is "an
eager desire to learn and know." Certainly sounds like Leonardo.
What does it mean today? Well, how about having an open mind. Looking
at your project with a different perspective. Knowing there is more than
one way to get from here to there. Understanding differences do make a
And meaning finding new ways to perform.
People make things happen. Technology may make things easier. Faster.
Yet, not better. Only people make things better. Express "curiosita",
and you'll begin the experience of generating new, original and creative
13 Platinum Principles to Generate New, Original & Creative "Ideas"
... use each of these concepts to your marketing advantage.