Name the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ideation.
Was it brainstorming? Creativity? Idea generation? Innovation? And sometimes mind-numbingly painful? All of those can be accurate representations of ideation, which is simply defined as the process of forming ideas or images.
While ideation can take on many different forms—from gathering around a table and whiteboard for group brainstorming to popping into a shared file to add your ideas as they come—one thing remains the same: it is the critical starting point for all of our copy writing projects.
So, why take time to ideate?
- Collaborating is king—two heads are better than one. I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time for a brainstorming session. I have the goals from the client and some general direction so I’m ready to start writing.” Don’t give in to the, “I’m too busy” mindset. Together you’ll come up with better ways to deliver on the strategy than a lone writer could, resulting in more creative copy, and less boring and straightforward copy writing. Give your team a little advance notice so they can research and formulate some thoughts before the brainstorming sessions. Your ideation sessions don’t have to last long at all—they can be as little as 15 minutes—you just need enough time to get the ideas flowing and time to tie them back to the goals of the project to keep your copy writing grounded in strategy. This leads to more focused writing from the beginning, and less editing and re-writing in the end.
- Ideation helps identify stories to make features and benefits relatable to your audiences. You know what you need to communicate (how awesome your product, service, event, etc. is), but you don’t know how to make it resonate with your audience. That’s where ideation can help. As your brilliant minds are gathered around a whiteboard or shared online document, common themes will begin to emerge and the story (or stories) will begin to write themselves. Before you conclude your ideation session, take a few minutes to group your ideas by category, audience type or goal so you have themes for your ideas. It makes writing so much quicker when all the sorting is already done.
- Ideation keeps your writing arsenal locked and loaded with ideas. You’ve hosted an ideation session, sketched and written down more than 60 new ideas and narrowed in on the top 15. What about the other 45 ideas? While they may not have made the cut this round (or for this particular project), odds are one or two of these creative ideas can be used for a future project, or incorporated into your writing to support the main goal. Pull them out of your project file and start a new file for future ideas and continue to add to it as ideas come to mind. This gives you a place to store ideas and somewhere to turn when you need to refresh your creative.
Don’t let poorly run ideation sessions take over
If you’re like me, you’ve been party to the good, the bad and the ugly brainstorming or ideation sessions. The good ideation sessions are grounded in goals and strategy, focused on your product, service, event, etc. (not on the latest episode of your favorite TV drama), and wrapped up with a clear theme or direction for copy writing. Bad ideation sessions start with good intentions, but lack the direction and ground rules needed to produce solid ideas, and ugly ideation sessions are uncomfortably overrun with disrespect for others, lack of direction and overall disorganization.
Need help ideating for your next writing or marketing project? Writing by Design can help keep your brainstorming sessions grounded in strategy and focused on goals. We love to help generate ideas and can work as an extension of your team to infuse fresh thinking for a special project. Request a quote today to jumpstart your next big idea.
Kayde Kempen has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and previously worked at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as an associate marketing manager where she served as a marketing project manager, writer, social media manager and web content specialist. During her five years at UWO, Kempen led nearly 90 website redesign projects. She has a Higher Education Experts certificate in Web Analytics for Higher Ed, and received a 2016 Platinum Hermes Creative Award for Integrated Marketing Campaign, a 2014 Platinum Hermes Creative Award for Overall Website in an Educational Institute and a 2012 Hermes Creative Gold Award for a microsite.