Having ideas is one of the most important parts of ad writing. So, how do you keep the ideas flowing? How do you make sure your big idea is THE idea for your project? Some wait for inspiration. For us commercial writers, we need ideas daily, not when the wind blows our way.
But, aha, we have a formula. If you want strong ideas daily, it pays to have a formula and know how to use it.
So, what is an idea? Our favorite description is “An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” So how do you combine old ideas with the new? It’s the ability to see relationships. The relationships among facts. And you cultivate that by taking an interest in life and the world around you.
This is where the formula comes in. There are 7 steps to getting ideas:
Step 1 – Gather all your information
There are two types of relevant information, specific and general. General is the lifelong information that comes from everyday life. Specific information is directly relevant to the topic of the moment. And you need all the specific information you can get your hands on. The client will provide most of this, but you may need to do some research to complement what you’ve been given. Of course, this is much easier today because of the Internet, but you’ll need to be judicious about what you get so that you aren’t overwhelmed.
Step 2 – Sift through the information
Sift through everything; turn it over and upside down until you see how it all fits. The more you sift, the more you will understand the relationships between everything.
Step 3 – Let the information simmer
Now, you need to let it sit for a while. Go for a walk, listen to some music or take a bath and let everything gel.
Step 4 – Eureka! Let the ideas flow
From ‘nowhere’ the ideas will start to flow. The answers may leap into your conscious from nowhere. But what if they don’t come. Don’t panic-keep going. Write down what you have so far and move on to step 5.
Step 5 – Shape and tweak your ideas
This is when you start fine-tuning and tweaking until you have something real that you can work with. You writing skills will come to the surface now.
Step 6 – Share your ideas
Now show your ideas around and see what others think. You may get more ideas that make it better. You may have new ideas and more creative input.
Step 7 – Rinse and repeat
Now, use that feedback you received in step 6 and add that to the information you got in Step 1. Now repeat Step 2. Go back through all that information, sifting in the new information. Then repeat steps 3, 4, 5 and 6. Keep it going until you have the best ideas you can come up with, or you’ve hit your deadline.
In your attempt to be more creative, here’s what you’ve done:
- Gather the information
- Sift it
- Let it percolate
- Let the ideas flow
- Shape and mould the ideas
- Share them with others
- Put the feedback into the loop; and repeat the process to strengthen your ideas.
That’s the good news. The bad news is having ideas is the easy part of writing. It’s the execution that is truly difficult. That’s where the true genius lies. And how do you master the craft of writing? Hard work and steady perseverance. But that’s for another article.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is a copywriter, content writer and blogger who writes “Snappy Copy That Sells Stuff”. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@GordonConner.com. or www.GordonConner.com.