Finding Creative Ideas Everywhere

April 11, 2012

The requests are non-stop and come at all hours.  They usually begin with “I have this client….” and many times end with “and it’s due by COB today”.  As a marketing director you’re a part time magician.  Pulling rabbits out of your hat is a survival technique you learn fairly quickly if you’re going to make it.  In these days of smaller budgets and bigger expectations, the demand is that much greater.  Figuring out how to connect your station with your listeners on the programming level is the somewhat easy part.  None of us ever met a listener that didn’t want some cash, a car, an iPad, concert tickets or a trip.  That’s where the obvious and easy part ends.  Enter the wand and the rabbit.

Making a marriage between a client’s brand and your listeners work on both levels means understanding your own station and listeners and how they work.  The rest is up to your imagination and opening your mind to the idea that resources are everywhere.  Sales people will often ask me “where did you come up with that idea, I love it”.  Of course there are plenty of times they’ll also look at me like I’m crazy.  The secret key can be as easy as keeping a vault of ideas in your head.  They pop in at all hours, on various days.  I write some down, others I file away in the back of my brain someplace, to be pulled out when the right match presents itself.  Look at everyone like a potential panel of people full of ideas.  Talk to listeners at events.  Some of the ideas you get are actually usable.  I have a file of listeners that I know like to win.  What motivates them, where will they go and why?   What turns them off and doesn’t get them to react at all?  Don’t discount some of their feedback and pretend to know how you think they’ll answer you. 

Maintain relationships with other marketing people you know in and out of radio.  Share ideas that worked, and even ones that didn’t.  Talk to friends and people in entirely different types of work.  Listen a lot and look around.  Cool ideas are all around you, it’s up to you to mold them to your particular format and make them workable.  Don’t discount ideas, even ones that appear on the surface to be awful.  The root of a potentially great promotion might be hidden beneath something that failed or had only marginal success somewhere else.  The best ideas are puzzle pieces that are all around you and it’s just a matter of rearranging them to resemble something workable for your station that will yield results for the client.  Many times that is the key to a solution that works or doesn’t.  Put the puzzle pieces in the wrong place and it doesn’t fit what you need. Move them around a little and suddenly people love it.   

Let’s face it, there are plenty of days when you’re swamped or there just aren’t any creative juices flowing.  Stockpile and prepare for those times and you’ll be ready with the rabbit in your hat.  If you have a secret stash of ideas already stored away somewhere in your head, the only challenge then becomes matching those up with the right client that makes sense on both ends.  Often times when that sales person wanders into your office looking for that “brilliant idea” you’ll have a good head start by having potential solutions you already know will work on the programming end and you can easily give them minor adjustments to fit the client need and sound great too.   

Rob Hogan is making Greater Media great in his role as Marketing Director at Magic 106.7