A Copywriter’s Guide to Idea Generation
“What’s your creative process?”
There’s no question I dread more.
I’m a copywriter, so generating ideas is my actual job. And even though I like to think I’m pretty good at it, I couldn’t for the life of me explain why.
It could be any number of things, really: an overactive imagination, an inclination for creativity, a hard determination to make something that matters.
But let me tell you a secret…
There’s no such thing as being “good” at idea generation. You’re just as able to produce a worthy idea as I am, and this is my literal job.
Because, at the end of the day, idea generation is just another skill. And that means it can be taught.
So, while my Carrie Bradshaw-like writing skills certainly help in my pursuit of good ideas, it all comes down to these four easy steps.
Step 1: Do Your Research
There’s no such thing as a bad idea — but not every idea suits every business’s needs. So, before you even THINK about whipping out those sticky notes, you better brush up on the business, the industry, and the campaign goals. This will help you (and your team) stay grounded throughout the brainstorming process and ensure the end-goal is always top of mind.
Other things to note: budget, timing, and other constraints. When it comes to brainstorming, it’s best not to limit your thinking and just let the ideas flow. But not everything is always sunshine and blue skies. Designate one person to reel you back in when your ideas start getting out of hand (and over budget).
Step 2: Invite the Masses
Idea generation is not a one-man show. In fact, the more diverse minds you can bring to a brainstorming session the better (within reason*)! You can riff off other people’s ideas, challenge each other, push concepts further — but NEVER say no. The key to a successful brainstorm is ensuring everyone feels comfortable contributing their ideas. That means never saying an idea sucks (even if it does).
* Keep it between 4-7 people to ensure there’s space for everyone to make valuable contributions.
Step 3: The More the Merrier
Strip your inhibitions, shed your concern for other people’s judgement, and let the hamster wheel in your head spin freely for a minute. Write down every crazy thought. Every wild concept. Produce as many ideas as you can — good, bad, and straight-up scary. The goal here is quantity, not quality.
Pro tip: use tools and resources to organize your thoughts and visualize concepts. There’s a ton out there, from Stormboard to InVision Freehand, but nothing beats a good old fashioned sticky note.
Step 4: The Diamond in the Rough
At this point, you should have a library of ideas to sort through or toss out. Remember the goals of the campaign and pick a few front-runners to build upon.
It just takes one big idea to get the ball rolling.
Need some extra help getting those creative juices flowing? Create a Pinterest board of things that inspire you. Send yourself ads you’ve been served that stood out to you. And, my personal favourite, start talking to yourself. Sometimes, hearing things aloud is all it takes to smooth out the wrinkles.
It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3… 4?
There you have it: my entire job reduced to four easy steps. Remember, anyone can generate good ideas, but it’s how you use those ideas that determines whether your campaign will succeed.
Do you need crazy ideas? Let’s talk.
Do you have crazy ideas? Join our team.