An Ideation Session Won’t Always Develop a Winning Marketing Concept

The scenario:
Sales are declining, brand loyalty is wavering, and budgets are being cut and then management says, “You need to come up with some new product ideas. The brand team scrambles to pull together a swat team for an ideation session at the end of the week.

The result:
A group of people gets together and throws some things against the wall and hopes something sticks.

How come it doesn’t work? Basically, you’ve shortchanged your concept development effort by relying strictly on a collaborative session with no grounding in consumer insight. Generally, 3 major issues can arise:

Solved the wrong issue – The team may believe they understand the needs and drivers of their consumer. As such, they march down a path to solve an issue that either doesn’t exist or is no longer relevant. The problem is that the idea isn’t going to sell. When there is no issue value around a proposed solution, no one is interested. This is were research focused on exploring habits and practices, needs and wants, and motivator will really help keep the team on track. If you don’t have the research, then do it and use it as “food for thought” to create a rich canvas of consumer understanding to develop ideas.

Consumer isn’t motivated by promise – Then you might actually identify the right product or service but haven’t communicated the promise in a meaningful or compelling way. Again, this is where your consumer is very important. Ideas should be qualitatively screened in order to figure out if they have any traction. I would not recommend a quantitative screen because like a seedling, often an idea needs to be nurtured just a bit to grow into something bigger. If you’ve identified the great product or service, but articulate it incorrectly, it could be immediately dropped from the consideration set only because it was poorly framed. You just don’t want to toss and idea without giving it an opportunity to succeed.

Filled the opportunity with the wrong products or services – Similarly, you might know what the needs are, but the way you’ve created the solution doesn’t match the consumer’s desired experience. For example, if you customer doesn’t like flying insects, you might develop a fly swatter. Yes, it will accomplish the task, but perhaps the consumer doesn’t want to spend each day running around swatting flies. They really wanted to take care of the problem and forget about it suggesting a spray bug killer might better fit the bill. Albeit a very simple example, but you can probably see how easy it is to create the wrong solution without adequate guidance and insight from your consumer.

So think twice when asked to ideate. And be sure you can answer, what are my consumer’s challenges, what are his wants and needs, and have I articulated the solution in a relevant way? Consumer insights are the magic bullet for making your next ideation session a huge success.