Have you ever been attacked by legions of anti-marketing ninjas who want to interfere with your supreme marketing abilities? Yeah, I hate when that happens. The only other time I face serious interruptions is when the ideas for campaigns, topics, or content are running low. One option would be to take on the task of generating good ideas by myself, but the person who is credited with forming the phrase “two heads are better than one” probably wasn’t in the room alone.

Brainstorming is a far better option when it comes to concocting quality content concepts (points for alliteration), and in this post I’ll explain how you can get the most out of a brainstorming session.

Set Aside Time for Brainstorming

Failing to include brainstorming among your plans is a major mistake. Trying to think of good, or even relevant online strategies is vital, no matter what aspect of marketing you represent.

Suppose you’re creating an infographic for your company. I hope that you wouldn’t expect a cohesive piece to come from multiple individuals who haven’t had time to collaborate, or even think about the project. Content strategists will need to decide on what’s relevant, has longevity, and more, while designers will need to be a part of the mix to ensure that the presentation conforms to all brand and UX standards. The same applies when deciding on campaigns and topics for an editorial strategy, technical SEO approaches, etc.

Nothing is worse than uninspired creativity, and if you’re mired in your workload, it’s going to show through what you produce. Find a time when you and your team can meet up for 30 minutes to an hour, and really get the ideas flowing. You’ll notice that the more time you all have to collaborate, the more momentum your brainstorm will gain. Seriously — try it! There have been times when lots of my team’s greatest ideas have come about during the last few moments of a brainstorm. This is due, in large part, to the fact that we were able to chop and mesh a lot of our original ideas and synthesize them into much better ones.

Give Your Team Time and Tools to Prepare

Make sure to give everyone who will be a part of your session ample time to prepare, which mean notifying them far in advance as to when you’re going to meet. Some folks work better once everyone has assembled, while others might use their individual time to come up with ideas on their own.

Don’t forget to mention any goals you might have as well, and be specific. You could approach the team and say, “Hey, everyone. For the session next week, I’d like for us to come out with twelve infographic ideas for so-and-so client. Be sure to consider the seasonality of their industry so that we can cater the content accordingly. Thanks.” Simple, to the point, and clear.

Designate a Space for Your Session

This one can be a bit challenging, but if you’re able, establish a “creative space” where your team can meet up to let the ideas flow. One or two meetings later, you’ll come to associate the space with idea generation. It reminds me of when I was in school. There was this one chair in which my friends and I would always pass out after long nights of “studying.” It got to the point where we’d start falling asleep there even if we weren’t sauced with “knowledge.” Eventually, the chair became affectionately known as “The Pass Out Chair.”

Brainstorming Pass Out Chair My best attempt to represent the majesty of “The Pass Out Chair”.

The same happens around the office (not passing out, of course). Trust me, it’s science! This study might ring a bell.

Value EVERYONE’S Input

Pretty straightforward, but each member of your team has something to contribute. Something one person says is often the impetus for another idea. So, if one person suggests a blog topic about shopping for a local real-estate client in you area, don’t discredit it right away. “10 Reasons We Love Shopping” might not be the best idea, but “Top 10 Places to Shop in Gotham City” could be great.

Be Proactive About Your Brainstorming Session

Being in a room full of creative minds, brainstorming can easily go from extremely productive to way off topic in a matter of minutes. During your brainstorm session, don’t be afraid to help guide the conversation back to the purpose of the session. If you are the one hosting the brainstorm session, it’s important for you to be the conductor and keep your team’s thoughts on the right track and not derail the original train of thought. (See what I did there?)

And there you have it — an effective plan for getting the most out of your brainstorm. Collaboration is something we do well around here, and we’d like for you to get in on the action. So, if you’re looking to team up with a collective of creative experts for your online strategy, we’d love to hear from you!

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