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The Bs' Rules for Brainstorming


When you're being paid to conceive, develop and implement ideas, brainstorming is as much a science as an art. 

And, it's all about people.

At B Direct, we conduct business from separate offices and remote locations, leveraging mobile and digital technology. But, when we need to brainstorm concepts for a new campaign, we prefer to do so the old fashioned way,

In person. 

With pens and paper. 

And preferably with chocolate.

Lots of chocolate.

Whether we're working on a print ad, a direct mail package, an event theme, or an email, we've found that — when it comes to brainstorming — more is more. That's why we typically generate a few dozen weird ideas, which we cull down to eight or ten viable ideas, which we flesh out into three to four solid ideas, which we then present to our client who gets to choose the best idea of all.

Brainstorming is a numbers game. But, it also requires inspiration.

Novelists sometimes suffer from "writer's block" for days, weeks or even months at a time. We can't afford to wait that long and neither can our clients. So, when we sit down to brainstorm, we have to get to work, whether the muse is hitting us or not. (Funny how often the muse hits after — and because — we've slogged through the process.)

So here are a half dozen B Rules we follow that keep things moving ... and, happily, has kept us generating new ideas for clients for the past 15 years.

B Open to All Ideas
When we get together to brainstorm, we agree not to get too judge-y. (There's plenty of time for that later.) Brainstorming is about quantity first, then quality. At this stage, keep your negative opinions to yourself. (Or, as the Queen B's mother-in-law used to say "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything.")

B Brave and Bold
Stretch yourself and encourage others to as well. The craziest idea (the one that would never never ever ever see the light of day in real-life) might spark other equally great — and more realistic — ideas.

B Visual and Hands-On
Don't hesitate to draw what you have in mind (yes, even if you're a copywriter and your stick people are "heavy on the stick, light on the people"). We do a lot of collateral and direct mail, so we often find ourselves folding tiny versions of the packages we have in mind. Not only is our origami part of the fun, but it comes in handy later when we start thinking about production.

B Willing to Beg, Borrow or Steal
They say "There's nothing new under the sun." You might find a good idea waiting where you least expect it. Get inspired (and inspire your team) with stories about current events, pop culture, social media and more. Make unexpected — and sometimes, fabulous — connections. Feel free to free associate and to take breaks.

B Polite and Respectful
Brainstorming is — and should be — fun, but don't interrupt someone when they're pitching an idea. Give them a chance to sell it. Manners matter.

B Optimistic
Even if a marketing challenge is particularly ... well ... challenging, keep the faith. 

In all the years we've been together (at B Direct and at other agencies prior), we've never failed to come up with something that worked — and, usually, worked well.

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