Many of us are familiar with this situation: we’re told that we need to quickly come up with concepts because of a sudden innovation push on our brand, or a sudden gap in the innovation pipeline, or a sudden competitive threat. It’s always sudden. The pressure is on. The temptation is to go into lock-down alone—or with close-knit teammates—and crank out concepts in record time. But in reality, concept development is no easy task. So, whether you have lots of time—or no time—one of your biggest jobs for creating truly successful concepts is to obtain valuable perspectives from a variety of stakeholders.
#1 Consumer Perspective
You are not your consumer. You may know a lot about your consumer because you’ve done a lot of research, but it’s not the same thing. That’s why when Fred Meyer founded Ideas To Go in 1979, he began using Creative Consumers® associates. His thinking was that creative women—who actually used products like diapers and household cleaners—would probably come up with better ideas for the brands vs. the 40-50 year-old male brand managers. Any time you can bring in the voice of the consumer, do it. And if you want to get really creative ideas from the voice of the customer, consider using our highly articulate—and imaginative—Creative Consumers® associates.
#2 Broader Team Perspective
You can say that it’s Marketing and Market Researchers’ jobs to come up with the concepts. Maybe they are more adept at writing the actual concepts—but they don’t have the whole picture. It’s always a good idea to involve the wider array of people developing the product or service, selling it, financing it—and approving it. For many, the fear is: the more people involved, the more likely ideas will be shot down due to feasibility or some other unseen factor. But that fear can be put to rest by ensuring everyone is using the right mindset for concept development. At Ideas To Go we call it the Forness® mindset. This broader set of team members brings in an invaluable array of ways to solve a problem—and a helpful knowledge base outside of the marketers’ expertise.
#3 Expert Perspective
This one is interesting—you can do it in two ways:
Gain insights from experts in related fields. This will help increase relevance in your ideas, while providing deeper insight into areas that you may not be familiar—or comfortable—with. One example would be using high-end chefs to come up with frozen pizza ideas.
Gain insights from experts who will help you think more abstractly, or more broadly around the objective. This would include ideating with people in adjacent, but not entirely related fields—and results in ideas that are far more unique. An example would be using a Master Gardener to come up with home fragrance ideas.
#4 Objective Perspective
Here’s where you bring in someone to help determine if you have:
Articulated the concept clearly.
Written concepts that are distinct from one another.
Created a benefit that links to the insight.
Offered RTBs that support the benefit.
Articulated an insight that is stated as a true insight.
Bringing in an objective perspective also helps to point out what you may have missed, or encourage you to take some risks—both of which might not happen if you try to do this alone.
So, as they say with raising children, it takes a village to create truly stellar concepts. Although you may be tempted to tackle the task singlehandedly for the sake of time, you may soon discover you don’t have all the perspective you need—and that might make all the difference when it comes to building your brand’s next great idea.
Beth Storz is President and Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go. She co-authored the book, "Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation™ Approach Drives Your Company Forward." Beth has been a guest on many innovation podcasts and her work has been featured in media outlets such as HuffPost and Fortune. Beth holds a BS in Business Management from Cornell University and a MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and has worked in brand management at some of the premier consumer packaged goods companies—including Unilever, Kraft and Nabisco. Since joining Ideas To Go, Beth has established herself as a leader in the Innovation landscape and designed and facilitated projects for hundreds of companies—from CPG to financial services to pharmaceuticals.