Recommended Reading

 21 Days to a Big Idea!

By Bryan Mattimore

2015, 156 pages

In 2015, Bryan Mattimore was hired by the librarians of the Chicago Public Library to help them work on their creativity. He challenged them to come up with a brand-new idea in just 30 seconds. They couldn’t do it. Then he led them in a little exercise.

He gave each of them two sets of cards. One set was nouns: man, boy, dog, house, socks, etc. The other was adjectives: fast, slow, tall, short, simple, fancy, dull, glowing, etc. He told them to mix and match the nouns and adjectives until they saw something that felt like a new idea.

In the next few minutes, dozens of interesting ideas were offered up. Some were crazy bad. Some were promising.

This is one of six or seven brainstorming strategies you will find in Bryan  Mattimore’s 21 Days to a Big Idea!

To use this brainstorming technique as a marketing or product-development tool, you need to work with nouns that pertain to your industry. If you sell vitamin supplements, for example, nouns like crowbar and space probably won’t be helpful. But you can and should be able to come up with dozens if not hundreds of nouns that will.

After you have your list of nouns, select one and run it against your list of adjectives until you find a good idea. If you don’t come up with anything, select another noun and do the same thing.

I’ve actually used this brainstorming technique many times and I can attest to its effectiveness. It may not give you instant gold, but it will get the mining going.

Another brainstorming technique Mattimore recommends involves asking yourself 6 simple questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. If you are a financial planner, for example, you could ask:

  1. Besides my current customer profile, who else might be able to use my service?
  2. Of the many investment vehicles I recommend, what is the most needed?
  3. When is the best time of day to contact prospective customers?
  4. Besides the media I’m currently using, where else might I find them?
  5. If a customer asks why I’m in this business, how should I respond?
  6. How can I take action on the answers to the above 5 questions?

A third technique is one that Mattimore calls “billboarding.” He says it is great for identifying a product’s unique advantages and consequently coming up with strong sales copy.

  • First, be clear about what your idea is and what problem it solves for customers in their everyday lives.
  • Second, list your product’s benefits. What are all the things it can do for your customers?
  • Third, pick out the strongest benefit your product has to offer.
  • Focusing on that benefit, create a catchy name for your product as well as a memorable phrase that captures exactly what it is about your product that makes it so special.

Example: A cardboard stroller for children.

The Benefits: It’s lighter and easier to move and transport than a regular stroller, but is still secure enough for you to trust that your baby is safe inside. It’s also less likely to cause injury if it falls over. And it’s cheaper. On top of these pragmatic benefits, you and your kids can draw on the cardboard, keeping them entertained and engaged during trips to the grocery store.

Thus, the headline of your ad could be: The Playhouse Stroller: Go Shopping and Your Kids Will Have Fun Too!

This is not a great book. It’s a good book. A quick read that will likely give you one or several useful tools to use to brainstorm better.