We’ve all been there. You sit down in front of your computer/notebook/carrier pigeon ready and raring to fire out some ideas. Why, just last night you had about fifty-seven brilliant ideas right when you were trying to go to sleep. You can’t remember any of them now, but hey, that’s fine. Coming up with ideas is the easiest thing in the world, right?
Then the blankness of the page and the cold, heartless stare of the carrier pigeon start to mock you. The enormous potential for failure shrivels up the seedlings of any ideas you might have thought of pursuing and suddenly a quick five-minute Facebook break sounds extremely appealing. But it will never just be five minutes, and a blank page will never just compose itself (…hyper-intelligent robots withstanding).
Coming up with ideas can seem like hell if you’re in the wrong mindset, especially if you’re under the added pressure of developing ideas for a new company marketing video. Figuring out how to promote a product or service in the clearest possible way can be a daunting task. However, there are a few trusty methods for getting the creative juices flowing. Here are just five of our top suggestions…
1. STEAL STEAL STEAL (but don’t really steal)
That’s right, steal. Sort of. Most people in creative industries will tell you there are no original ideas, only new ways of presenting the same ideas. Take a good look at what’s already out there: look at products and companies similar to yours to see how they’re being marketed and what kinds of video content they’re producing to get new clients.
Doing this serves two functions. One: looking at good content will serve as inspiration for your own marketing ideas, which can then be used as a launching pad to create something unique to your company. And two: looking at the effectiveness of others’ videos will help you to learn what storytelling techniques are more likely to work for you. In this way, borrowing effective stylistic choices from other videos can prevent costly mistakes in your marketing. Obviously flat out stealing is a bad, bad, terrible idea, but gaining inspiration and learning from others’ mistakes is a good, good, terrific one.
2. Connect with your muse
We each have different things that inspire us creatively. Salvador Dali used dreams to inspire his artworks. The Beatles purportedly used various drugs to inspire some of their songwriting. Some people find that loud, powerful music stimulates their imagination, while others find soft instrumental background music fosters a clearer mind. Watching strongly-directed movies can help trigger visual thinking for video ideas, just as looking at well-composed images can help develop a natural sense of layout and composition. Even a good meal, a vivid colour scheme or a distinctive scent have the ability to tap into the excitable ‘idea centre’ of the brain.
Whatever it is that gets your creative juices flowing, try immersing yourself in that medium for a set amount of time and seeing what arises. Remember to write your ideas down as you go because, if you’re anything like me, a good idea will disappear from your consciousness as quickly as that really interesting dream I had the other night about giant sand monsters, or… wait, was it sandwiches? Colonel Sanders? Yeah, I don’t know.
Alongside seeing what’s worked for others and what hasn’t, it’s also important to research your consumer’s needs inside and out. If you’ve been running your business for a while or have worked extensively with the marketing team before, then you’ve probably got a pretty solid idea of who your target market are. It’s likely you knew this even before starting or joining your business.
In terms of creating a marketing video for this demographic, consider what their needs and desires are in terms of not only your product, but the way in which the product will be presented in video. Are they the kind of market who will respond to a conscientious, logical list of benefits? An off-the-wall comedy video? A visual-based video with no dialogue? A fast-paced, brightly coloured explainer animation? A cheesy song with a catchy hook? Circular motifs? The colour red? The age, interests, beliefs and world views of your target market will all factor into these decisions, and only a solid amount of research will uncover them.
4. Research Research Research (yes, more research)
The second part of your epic journey into research involves knowing the product you want to market inside and out. You might already be (and hopefully are) exceedingly familiar with the workings of your product: whether that product is a physical item, a service, a concept or even the company image itself.
But knowing how your product works and all the benefits it can bring to the everyday consumer is only half the equation. The other half is knowing how your product will fit into the wider context of the marketing world. What niches does it fit into, and how do those niches handle their video marketing content? What new trends and memes can your product be a part of (without appearing disingenuous)? What websites might respond positively to the kind of video content your company is producing, and what are the unspoken politics/customs/rules of etiquette for those websites? Each of the larger content-sharing sites tends to have its own way of behaving, and charging into a site like Reddit assuming its users will react exactly like they do on Instagram can in fact do much more damage than good. Familiarise yourself with your chosen marketing platforms and shape your video content to have the best chance of success with each.
5. Pay someone else to do it
Of course, no one knows your product or company as well as you. However, creative agencies have extensive experience in getting the most effective message out of products through their knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in the marketing arena. Many studios offer a personalised level of involvement, meaning you can have as much (or as little) creative control as you like. Getting someone else to help develop your video concepts also has the added advantage of getting a fresh set of eyes on your product, and the ways in which it will appeal to a new audience.
At the end of the day it can be worth weighing up the time, labour and cost for your company to develop its script and concept in-house against the time and cost taken to put the same task in the hands of a professional studio.
Sometimes the hardest part of generating ideas is simply getting over the fear of the blank page. After immersing yourself in some of the above techniques, set a timer, if possible lock yourself away where you won’t be distracted, and just start. Expect your first five, ten, fifty ideas to be terrible, and allow yourself to get these ideas out on the page. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the creative process. You have all the time in the world to be anxious about your ideas, but just for this moment let yourself focus on the incredible idea that you are creating something out of your own mind, something which has the potential to inspire, affect, educate, stir to action, or even forever change the way others think about the world around them.
Written by Maree Railton.