If you’ve ever had a “creative block” trying to come up with a new marketing idea, here are some simple exercises to get you unstuck.

Dig Deeper

The first ideas you come up with are usually expected and unoriginal. Sometimes you need to dig a bit deeper to get at the heart of a truly good idea.

  1. Get a team of your employees together and hand out post-it notes to each person
  2. Give them 3 minutes to write down as many marketing ideas as they can (1 idea per post-it note)
  3. After the 3 minutes is up, have them rank their ideas in order
  4. Tell them to throw away their top half of ideas
  5. Give them another 5 minutes to write down more marketing ideas (idea per post-it note)
  6. After the 5 minutes are done, have them present their top 3 ideas

Brand Idol

This exercise helps you to identify ways you can be more like the best brands in the world.

  1. Think of a brand you would like to emulate.
  2. Answer the following questions:
    If you were the [insert brand idol here] of your industry…
    What would you ads look like? (sketch out what the ad and come up with some headlines for it)
    What services would you provide?
    What are some various added value services you’d provide?
    What kind of promotions would you offer?
    Write down offer and how it would be promoted.
    What would you say in your emails? (Draft a sample email in your brand idol’s voice)

The Worst Way

In order to figure out the best way to do something, sometimes it’s helpful to think about all the really bad ways of doing it, to look at it from a different perspective.

  1. Answer these questions: If you were the worst company in your industry…
    How would you treat your customers?
    Describe thoroughly the customer experience.
    What information would you provide on your website?
    Don’t just say “nothing.” That’s too easy. If you were a really crappy company in your industry, how you try to promote yourself online.
    What would you say about your product?
    List the key selling points of a really terrible company.
  2. After you’ve answered all those questions, write down what would be the opposite of all of them.
  3. Identify ways you can execute on those ideas.

Accelerate

We sometimes put up artificial barriers on what we think is possible to accomplish. This exercise helps you to expand your preconceptions and find new ways.

  1. Write down all the goals you have in the next 12 months.
  2. For each goal, write the specific tasks you need to do in order to accomplish them.
  3. Now, imagine you only have 1 week to accomplish each goal.
  4. Write down what tasks you would need to do in order to accomplish them in that timeframe.

Substitution

This exercise helps you to break through mental blocks you may have about your industry that you take for granted.

  1. Identify a tough problem you’re trying to solve.
  2. Ask yourself how would you address the problem if you were in a completely different industry or situation. Example: If you’re trying to come up with new marketing ideas, think of all the ways you can promote a lemonade stand and then brainstorm how you can apply those ideas to your own marketing.
  3. Based on those solutions, come up with executable tactics that you can apply to your business.