10 new product questions to ask yourselves

Do you have new products or services planned or ready to go? If not, you may be able to hear a warning klaxon going off in the background.

Products and services go through a natural life cycle. They are thought of, created and launched. Some of them succeed and go onto maturity, before eventually declining and being removed from the marketplace.

If you have a number of successful products / services on your hands, it is all too easy to forget about the future. After all, the cash is rolling in, customers are happy and you have a successful business, don’t you?

The challenge is that technology keeps changing, new competitors are eyeing your success with great interest and new threats are materialising, either around the corner or around the globe.

At least once a quarter, take some time out to think about new product ideas. Incidentally, I believe that services should be ‘productised’, so we will use the term products to include services.

10 new product questions

1.  Current products: could they be made smaller or larger?
2.  Could you combine two of your products together?
3.  Could you adapt one of your products in a new way?
4.  Could you substitute a component or service element?
5.  Could the product be put to another use?
6.  Could you rearrange the product in a different way?
7.  How would the product be used in a different country?
8.  What if we doubled the price?
9.  How could we add value this product?
10.  What could be removed from it?

When I run a new product workshop or a product marketing in-house training session, I ask the delegates these questions. We use Post It notes and Mind Maps to create a flurry of ideas. Typically, 1 in 10 of the ideas are interesting enough to be taken forward. Some famous name products have been created as a result of these workshops.

Creative thinking for marketers

Making creativity part of company culture

William Bernbach, one of the three founders of the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), once said: “It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors.”

During the 20 years that I have taught creative thinking, there have been fundamental shifts within our civilisation. For example, the rise of low cost distributed computing is perhaps best epitomised by the launch in 2007, by Apple Inc of the iPhone, one of the first smartphones to include a multi-touch interface. Apple is a hot bed of creative thinking and in May 2017 became the first US company to hit US$800 billion in value.

Globalisation, intense competition and the disruption of entire industries are now part of daily life. Underneath these dramatic changes, human beings are the same. The desire to be creative resides in all of us.

Creativity in its many forms outside of the work place is a good thing. Whether it belongs in the office environment is another question entirely. Some would say that creativity in business is OK for computer game producers, architects, advertising agencies and the like. I believe that it gives every organisation, regardless of size the edge within a fast changing environment. Making creativity a part of company culture will give you a competitive advantage, motivate staff and help to increase turnover and profitability.

A client asked me recently: “How can we make creativity part of everyday office life?”

Here is my response:

* Nominate a company (0r department) Creative Thinker each month.

* Buy some creative thinking books and leave them lying around the office.

* Use a creative thinking technique, such as Mind Mapping, the next time you encounter a problem.

* Take a walk with the people who are tackling the problem and discuss it as you move.

* Share creative thinking stories with each other.

* Talk about creative thinking during business meetings.

* Put up some creative thinking posters in the office.

* Mention creative thinking within internal newsletters.

* Blog about creative thinking.

* Let your customers know that you enjoy using creative thinking techniques.

* Share interesting creative thinking articles, stories, cuttings and books with your colleagues.

* Count the number of new ideas that your company / department generates each month and display the number where everyone can see it.

* Get senior management involved.

* Share creative thinking quotes around the office.

* Once a year, have a creative thinking away day.

* Ask non competitors to share their approach to creativity with you (and return the favour).

* Try using creativity software.

* Use creativity ice breakers to get meetings started.

* Invite artists, engineers, architects, authors and professors to talk about creativity.

* Announce an annual award for the best creative thinker within your organisation.

* Tell the media what you are doing.

* Never stop experimenting and learning.

What other ideas could you add to this list?

Nigel Temple is a creativity speaker and trainer. He delivers engaging creativity talks and creative thinking workshops for audiences of all sizes, anywhere in the world.

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Creative thinking quotations

Here are some of my favourite creative thinking quotations:

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” ~ John Cage

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

“If the rate of change on the outside is greater than the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” ~ Jack Welch

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” ~ Edwin Land

“Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.” ~ Edward de Bono

“True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems is found.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“In a truly creative collaboration, work is pleasure and the only rules and procedures are those that advance the common cause.” ~ Warren Bennis

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” ~ Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895

“Men of talent have to be goaded to engage in creative work. The groans and laments of even the most gifted and prolific echo through the ages.” ~ Eric Hoffer

“In every work of genius, we recognize our once rejected thoughts.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’” ~ Marianne Williamson

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” ~ John Steinbeck

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” ~ General Erick Shinseki

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Stay in tune with your creative brain.” ~ Tony Buzan

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.” ~ Chuck Jones, Warner Brothers animator

“Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.” ~ Ken Robinson

“Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” ~ Carl Jung

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” ~ Howard Aiken

“If you do not the expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” ~ Heraclitus

M. A. Rosanoff: “Mr. Edison, please tell me what laboratory rules you want me to observe.”
Edison: “There ain’t no rules around here. We’re trying to accomplish somep’n!” ~ Thomas Edison

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” ~ Robert Wieder

“Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?” ~ Robert Kennedy

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” ~ Roger von Oech

Here is  a longer list of creativity quotations (which I will be expanding).

If you are looking for a creativity speaker click here.

 

Are you a creative thinker?

Creative thinkingWould you say that you are a creative thinker? To a large extent, marketing is a creative thinking exercise. If you are able to generate new ideas on demand, you will be able to come up with more options. This is always a good thing in business and in marketing, as you need to experiment with different approaches.

With the advent of internet marketing, new ways to promote your business are being launched every day. See: 269 Ways to Promote Your Business. Some of us don’t like to change – however – change is now happening at a faster pace than ever before. An open mind and a creative approach will help you to take advantage of these marketing opportunities. Successful enterprises are creative and adaptable. Everyone can improve their skills in this area.

For 12 years, I taught Creative Thinking for the Chartered Institute of Marketing. They sent me all over the UK and throughout mainland Europe, teaching executives, managers, directors and marketing professionals how to become more creative. I have also taught creative thinking in schools. I found that everyone is creative – given the opportunity to be so. Coming up with ideas and solutions to challenges is hard wired into our brains – as this is part of the survival process. After all, when the food ran out, if our ancestors hadn’t been creative, we wouldn’t be here, would we?

When you are faced with your next challenge (and they do come thick and fast, don’t they?) think creatively in order to find alternative approaches. You can use an imaginative or logical approach, either working on your own or with colleagues. I use Mind Mapping a great deal (as you will see within my home page). There are a huge variety of creative thinking techniques and there will be a handful that consistently work for you.

See: Coming up with new ideas and finding time to think and Creative thinking for business and marketing

This is a big subject that I cover within my creative thinking training courses.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.’  ~ Henry Ford

Written by marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author Nigel Temple.
3,000+ clients over a 30 year period.
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Creative thinking for business and marketing

I have found that business and marketing are creative thinking exercises. As a marketer, for example, you must be able to come up with new ideas all the time. The ability to generate new ideas on demand can be taught (I know, because I did this for 12 years when I was a CIM Faculty Member). Here is Mind Map which I use in idea generation sessions and marketing consultancy meetings: Marketing planning Mind Map by Nigel TempleIn a fast changing world, you need to experiment with different approaches. You need to out-think the competition. You need to produce new ideas for products, services and promotion. You need to solve marketing challenges every day. It can seem never ending! Creative thinking is a skill, just like any other. It begins with the belief that you can do it, which begs the question: are you creative? I have asked thousands of seminar delegates this question and the show of hands is always surprising (what do you think the hands are telling me?)

Radical and innovate promotional techniques are arriving thick and fast. Some enterprises don’t like change. However, in the 21st century, change is happening at a faster pace than ever before. This is a Darwinian process: survival and success goes alongside the ability to adapt.

An open mind and a creative approach will help you to thrive and take advantage of new opportunities. The good news is that we can all improve our skills and abilities in this area.

There are 100s of creative thinking techniques which you can experiment with. Some are logical in their approach. Others use the human imagination. Some of the techniques are for personal use, whilst others are for team thinking. Some of them, like Mind Mapping, have wide applicability. Experiment with the techniques and apply them to your business and marketing challenges.

In conclusion, creative thinking for business and marketing is a key issue.  If you aren’t coming up with new ideas on a regular basis, perhaps it is time to change your approach.

Learn about my Creative Thinking training courses.

To find out more, email joanna@nigeltemple.com or call Joanna on +44 (0)1628 773128.

~ Mind Map © Nigel Temple ~ Mind Mapping was created by Tony Buzan~

Breaking old habits and learning something new

To a large extent, human beings are creatures of habit. Think about your routine first thing in the morning. You probably do everything in the same order, don’t you? Without really thinking about it, we find ourselves watching the same TV programmes, visiting the sames shops, maintaining old skills, telling the same jokes and keeping the same opinions. After all, life is difficult enough without doing everything differently all the time, isn’t it? This is fine if you are content to drift along and don’t have aspirations to improve yourself and grow your business. Habits are powerful things. It can be difficult to see the life you are living and how much of it is routine based.

Learning a new skill can help with your other skills (you have 100 billion active brain cells and they are highly interconnected). This will make you a more interesting person, in your personal and professional life. An example for me, this year, is learning German – which I have not studied before. I have been surprised at how many people speak either a little German or are fluent in the language. Learning something new increases your confidence. Learning helps you to stay young. If you make learning a habit, you will be more open to trying out new marketing and sales skills.

Here are some ideas for you:

Personal development
*  Learn a new language (there are free apps which can help you)
*  Learn a musical instrument
*  Take up a new sport
*  Try a new hobby
*  Read a different genre of book

Marketing 
*  Experiment with a new promotional technique
*  Learn a new software program
*  Do something new with your website
*  Visit a new networking group
*  Learn how to write and publish a book
*  Become a public speaker

it takes 21 days to form a new habit – so don’t give up too soon!

If you are interested in learning about marketing, by all means join us here:  www.marketingcompass.co.uk

Nigel Temple offers creative thinking training.

“I am still learning.” ~ Michelangelo, aged 87.

Creative thinking skills

Creative thinking skills give you an unfair advantage in business. If you can create new ideas on demand, you’ll be better equipped to overcome challenges, create new product ideas and sail past the competition. The question is, are you a creative thinker?

I have asked several thousand seminar delegates this question (I taught Creative Thinking for Marketers for 12 years at CIM, the Chartered Institute of Marketing). It was always interesting to watch people’s reactions to this question. Sadly, the majority of delegates did not raise their hands. Which is a shame, as every human being is naturally creative.

Creativity is all about coming up with new ideas. Immediately, we encounter the first challenge, as the human brain may respond by saying: “Oh, I can’t do that!”

The answer is to be open to the idea of thinking about alternatives, to any given challenge. At this stage, you don’t have to actually come up with new ideas – you just have to be OK with the belief that you can do this.

The next stage is to be able to come up with several options, to a given challenge. Two or three options would be OK. A larger number would be better, as the quality of your solutions is directly connected to the number of options you generate.

Here is an exercise for you. The next time you encounter a challenge, think of at least three ways to solve it. I would be interested to know how you get on. You are welcome to post a reply to this blog or you could let me know via www.marketingcompass.co.uk

Incidentally, I offer creative thinking training – this can be delivered 1-2-1, to small groups or to audiences of any size.

 

Mind Mapping software

I have used Mind Maps for many years. If you are interested in this visual thought organisation technique, I can recommend iMindMap – mind mapping software which has Tony Buzan’s blessing (Tony invented Mind Maps).

Branding Mind Map by Nigel TempleI use Mind Mapping for presentations, public speaking, webinars, teleseminars, creative thinking / problem solving and for a host of other things.

My office was across the corridor from Tony’s for several years. He is an interesting person and I
learnt a great deal from him (this was probably not reciprocal).

If you having questions about mind mapping or mind mapping software, just ask!

All the best,
Nigel
Marketing consultant, speaker and author
The Marketing Compass
Small business marketing direction