Crank out ideas by the bucket.

My time-tested approach for coming up with lots of ideas in a short time frame.

You know, there as a time not too long ago, when clients would actually give you two weeks to come up with concepts for an ad. Yup. One ad, two weeks. These days, you’re lucky if you get two days to work on a banner ad or an e-blast.

I’m not complaining, like most, I’ve accepted the reality and learned to excel with these new parameters. So how do I come up with a ton of good ideas in a super short time frame – and more importantly, how can you?

It’s all about coming up with strategic buckets that guide your thoughts and speed your creative process. Here’s how it works:

  1. Create strategic buckets. Think of all the key messages you could communicate. Write down every one that comes to mind. If your project is a B-to-B ad, your buckets might look like this: “saves you time,” “saves you money,” “we have great customer service,” “we’re experts,” and “we’ll make you look good.”
  2. Get your buckets in order. Prioritize them.
  3. Check your time. When’s your project due? How much time does that give you for ideation? 30 hours? 20 hours? 2 hours?
  4. Decide how many you can conceivably do. Each bucket deserves at least 2 hours. On an ad or campaign, I try to spend at least 3 hours on a bucket, although sometimes I have as little as half an hour or as much as 10 hours.
  5. Time to work. Develop ideas for one bucket at a time allotting a set amount of time for each one.
  6. What about the “coming up with ideas part”? Your job is to find alternate ways of communicating the bucket’s idea. Try it from every angle you can think of. Don’t just do slight rewordings, try visual approaches, metaphors, let your mind go.
  7. Stay fresh. I often use a timer to limit myself to an hour per bucket. That forces me to set ideas aside and come back to them with a fresh mind.
  8. Keep moving. Move to the next bucket when your allotted time is up or when you hit a lull. Hey, sometimes a bucket just ends up being a dog. It’s a waste of time to force it. So write down what you can—even if they’re bad ideas—and come back to it later.
  9. Make the hardest part choosing the best ideas. The biggest benefit of using this bucket approach is that you end up with a wide range of options—never a bad thing.

If you have an ad or campaign coming up, why not give this technique a try? And if the well runs dry for whatever reason, remember I’m here to help. Just call 917-664-1768 or email.