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."

Here's a little Flash gadget from AdCracker CD to get you started. It's based on consumer interviews, worldwide, over the past decade.

2. Make a movie

eMarketer estimates that in three years 10% of all Internet advertising dollars will be spent on video placements. Which may be one reason the Google guys spent $1.65 billion to purchase YouTube.

On the creative side, video is a powerful tool to characterize your brand, position your services, and sell your products.

The kicker is that video production costs have decreased dramatically in the past few years, especially for Web video. So what are you waiting for?

Some tips:

  • Start with the structure. You can draw story boards with captions. Or you can write a script, with the audio track in one column, and the visual track in the column beside it. But be sure to start with an outline first.

  • Tell the story visually. Your movie should make sense, and keep the audience engaged, with the sound turned off.

  • Focus on one of the Big Three advertising approaches:
    1. Characterize your brand, and project your brand's personality.
    2. position your company in relation to competitors.
    3. sell your products or services directly, with a demo, an offer, and multiple calls to action.

Of those three approaches, you will likely profit most with a 3- to 30-minute direct response video. If you don't have experience with DR video, a good way to learn is to reverse engineer—re-create the entire script—of several video examples you admire.

Once finished, you can use elements from the movie—such as characters, demos, and slogans—in your print, DM, Web and other advertising.

3. Take a trip

It used to be you could visit New York and London to find 90% of the world's best advertising. But today there are many centers of creative excellence. And that gives you new worlds of creative inspiration to explore.

A suggested itinerary:

  • The USA and the UK are still, overall, tops for print, TV, and interactive advertising.

  • Brazil, India, South Africa, and France are among several countries that match the two cousins in measured effectiveness and creative talent.

  • Stop by Thailand for TV commercials. Singapore for print ads and DM. Then visit New Zealand and Australia for ambient advertising.

Some travel tips:

  • Learn to recognize the classic and contemporary ad techniques. There are around 40, including personification, problem/solution, metaphor, human interest lead, and so forth.

    Advertising techniques are culturally neutral. So once you recognize the underlying technique it's easy to see how the execution of that technique might work for you.

  • Consider a subscription to Luerzers International Archive. It is published bimonthly and features some of the best creative work worldwide. You can find on the Internet or at Amazon.

  • Spend some time at the major international ad awards. Some of the biggies are the Clios, the Cannes Lions, and the International Andy Awards. Google will take you there.

Bon voyage.

Subscribe's free!

MarketingProfs provides thousands of marketing resources, entirely free!

Simply subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to how-to articles, guides, webinars and more for nada, nothing, zip, zilch, on the house...delivered right to your inbox! MarketingProfs is the largest marketing community in the world, and we are here to help you be a better marketer.

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin


image of Steve McNamara

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