You need a monster marketing idea. So you thumb through a pub. Call a brainstorming session. Maybe Google "advertising ideas."

Whatever you do to get that idea, you probably do pretty much the same thing every time. Which can lead to campaigns that are, well, pretty much the same every time.

Here are three new ways for you, and your creative team, to trigger some gigantic ideas.

1. Capture some customers

Want to discover hidden reasons people buy your product and the psychological obstacles they overcame to do so? Or what phrases "real people" use to describe the benefits of your service? Just make a list of customers, then ask.

Some pointers:

  • Contact interviewees in advance with your questions; give them time to contemplate a response.

  • Keep the interview short: three to five questions.

  • Conduct the interviews with a two-person video team. Or tape-record the interviews over the phone, after asking permission, of course.

Once captured, your interviews will...

  • Provide fresh inspiration for concept development, headlines, visuals, even copy phrases for your ads

  • Nourish the creative team with healthy servings of reality

  • Give you the raw material for both external ad campaigns as well as internal presentations.

One of my clients, a VP of Marketing, played highlights of taped interviews for the President and Board, saying, "Listen to the level of customer delight we have achieved."

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Steve McNamara is a freelance ad guy and the publisher of He has been a creative director and copywriter at JWT, BBDO, and, on the client side, at Capital One. Reach him at