January 14, 2013 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Today let’s focus on how to get inspired by any client, no matter what they do, even if you have ethical or moral objections to them. While those situations aren’t ideal, every professional will be faced by them at some point, so it’s wise to be prepared. For the purposes of this guide the example client will be a fictitious Home Equity Line of Credit company called Cliff’s Edge.
Apply these ideas to any client that encites writers’ block, and you will soon find yourself producing brilliant ideas that are only limited by your typing WPM.
When you receive a new client who doesn’t instantly inspire, take the time to review their past projects. Pay particular attention to their successes, as they’ll surely hope to emulate these numbers, if not the topics. Start a spreadsheet that tracks their top ten projects, which will serve as inspiration and as a reminder of the numbers you have to break.
It goes without saying that any brainstormer needs quiet time for ideation. Yet, many busy professionals take this for granted and don’t actually do it. Schedule an hour and think. You deserve the creative space.
Block out an hour on your Google Calendar: label it “Open Brainstorm for Cliff’s Edge” so that colleagues will feel welcome to brainstorm, but not to interrupt.
When you’ve tapped your own mental resources, it’s time to milk the cleverest colleagues you can bribe with a burger. Make sure you’re always willing to reciprocate when they need help with difficult clients. When your colleagues have contributed, consider others in your life who might have insights.
Ideas From Colleagues – Check out competitors; compare Home Equity Lines of Credit to typical credit methods; ask the client for any available resources
Ideas From a Parent Who Had an Equity Line – Review misconceptions about the approval process; interview people who successfully repaid a HELOC
Correlate your client’s work to random, interesting concepts and see if it brings up fresh ideas.
As an after-work exercise, seriously stumped brainstormers can try watching a movie related to the industry at hand for inspiration. While this would be difficult for new industries, it’s a simple task for older businesses.
If you’re still stumped after the previous steps, then it’s time to investigate the industry from its inception. While Wikipedia is not the best source for articles, it’s a great launch-pad for research (if you click into the sources sited).
Review the client’s leading competitors who are involved in content production and doing it well. Make a spreadsheet of their successful titles as a springboard for inspiration.
While this idea is very similar to the “Force Associations” one above, it differs in that you’re just free searching on Google or another search engine. Randomly plug-in ideas that somewhat correlate to your client’s work and let your mind wander. You’ll be surprised by the neat ideas that will occur to you when you relax and have fun with ideation.
Very similar to the idea above, except that it doesn’t involve Internet surfing, this idea calls for paper and pen. Simply write anything and everything you think of, underlining ideas that could become working concepts or titles. Like the previous idea, this stream of consciousness activity often evokes the most ingenious concepts.
Bananas fruits that aren’t edible, loans that aren’t useful, loans that save people from suffering, how loans prevent suffering, laws that prevent loans from overstepping utility, loans history, dogs and cats and other things that live in houses, all of the things in houses that cost money, how to provide for all of the things that need money.
No matter what you have to brainstorm for next, you can be prepared to produce creative, original ideas. Whenever a new activity proves successful for your personal ideation, make sure you note it so that it’s not forgotten during the next brainstorming session.
Do you have fresh activities people should try while brainstorming for difficult clients? We’d love to hear them in the comments.
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