One of the most fun aspects of marketing planning can be brainstorming. Here are ways to make sure your marketing brainstorming is fun and productive.
1. Invite the right people
Don’t brainstorm in a marketing silo. Invite others who deal with your customers, including customer service, product development, sales, distributors and possibly suppliers or strategic alliance partners. Invite marketing specialists in your industry and from other industries who can provide new perspectives on and tactics for your marketing.
2. Clear your calendar
Clear your schedule of meetings and interruptions; hold all calls. Ask the brainstorming participants to silence phones and to not text or email during the meeting.
3. Document the discussion
Use a whiteboard or flip charts to document the discussion. Take a photograph of your notes at the end of the session for documentation. Ask an artistically-inclined person to graphically illustrate ideas or tie ideas together during the session. This heightens creativity and makes the brainstorming come alive.
4. Discuss what went right in the past
Open a discussion of what went right in last year’s marketing plan. What worked and why? What did not work? Why? What can be improved?
5. Brainstorm new ideas
Remember that in brainstorming, all ideas are good ideas. Park the attitudes of “that won’t work” and “that wasn’t invented here” at the door. Encourage participants to drill down into ideas with open-ended questions such as, “Tell us more about that?” “Give us some examples.” This process often leads to iterative brainstorming where the participants start feeding off each other’s ideas.
6. Share the results
Once you analyze the new ideas, cost out new tactics and integrate them into your new marketing plan, share the plan with the brainstorming participants. Throughout the year share how the marketing plan is implemented and what results are achieved. By keeping your brainstorming stakeholders in the loop, you will have more educated and valuable participants for the next time around. Marketing planning is not a one-time event, but rather it is an iterative, continuous process.
What’s your best brainstorming story? Worst? Please comment below.
Flickr photo by nancydowd