So who has the best ideas within the business? Marketing? Propositions? Customer Services? The Board? They will all make a claim to the prize. And in fact, they would be right to. But equally we have witnessed brilliant new ideas coming from compliance, operations, actuarial, data analysts and HR too.
How can this be so? In our experience at Lexden, which is not insignificant, it’s more to do with how the ideation session is constructed, than who rocks up. If it’s well crafted and focused on the cause in question, the best ideas will shine through. And like all marketing, the making of the success is in the preparation.
We’ve often been commissioned to help clients who are finding their established proposition development process is delivering tired, well-worn or self-fulfilling solutions. When we look at their approaches we tend to find it’s broken in one or more of four places. We’ve listed these below and included some of the suggestions we propose to reinvigorate clients’ approaches.
1) Too much has been rationalised out before the idea build process even begins.
Typically this is driven by IT constraints, resource capacity or speed to market concerns. Whilst all valid, these constraints are simply not relevant until an idea is formed. If the idea is strong enough (e.g. noticeable commercial opportunity + brand aligned + customer appetising + competitive distinction + business vision enabler) it’s amazing how momentum builds and barriers will fall away or be knocked down.
2) Not enough value is placed on the ideation session set-up.
If this is where the magic happens, it needs to be set up that way. Rooms should be selected and dressed. The session programme content and work sheets should be built exclusively in consideration of the purpose of the session and the environment – maximise it’s potential. And of course stimulus should be chosen without compromise and prepared with care – it is your springboard for visually inspiring your creators. If you’ve run an ideation session recently, how much time did you give to this point? Did you compromise? If you did, so will your output be sadly.
3) Restricting attendance.
The guest list should be inclusive and respected. Your attendees are the creative inventive assets. See them as Steve Jobs, James Dyson, Roald Dahl, Tracey Emin and Wayne Hemingway and watch the magic happen. Push beyond the usual set of attendees. Involve individuals typically left on the shelf such as legal and HR. If you can’t see beyond the compliance officers and operational managers in them, neither will they – and you deserve exactly what you get in terms of output from the session (or don’t get as is often the case). However, they are an often untapped source of ideas – so help take their business constraints cuffs off and they will blossom.
4) Starting a session at the wrong point.
Turning attendees into creators does not mean letting them run wild with a ‘what if…blue sky thinking’ unconstrained remit. It’s the opposite in fact. It’s about getting everyone to a very specific unified starting point. And that point is the one at which the customer enters our equation. And then like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, Dorothy waking up in Oz and Alice stepping through the looking glass they too will be transported into a new world. A world where ideation rules are set to be customer centric. This world has its own rules – customer driven rules.
And what you will find is the ideas are new, fresh and bountiful.
Ideas which will resonate with consumers (and if you’ve set the rules correctly at point 4) and the business.
And it’s from here the hard graft of making the ideas work, on a customer’s terms separates the proposition pioneers from the parity pushers.
So good luck. There’s no reason why you can’t create the magic in-house, but if you want a helping hand or advisory inspiration, we are only a click away.
Lexden’s five magical proposition development ingredients
2. Liberating ideation techniques
3. Expert insight synthesis and interpretation analysis
4. Sharp commercial and viability alertness
5. Energising approach with a ‘go-to-market’ attitude
Posted by Christopher Brooks
Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.
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