In this week’s edition of our Friday Knowledge Share, Content Specialist Peter Fitzgerald discussed a concept that he often encounters in his role called ideation.
Ideation is the formation of ideas or concepts. This is especially relevant when it comes to copywriting and content strategy.
Peter explained that when he is utilising ideation to formulate article and on-page copy ideas for clients, he makes use of the following approach:
- Direction – Aiming for a specific objective or requirement. This will often involve correspondence with the client in regards to the goal they want to achieve. For example, more traffic or a higher engagement with the website in relation to conversion completions.
- Education – Making use of research. This will often involve using resources and materials provided by the client where possible, in addition to an analysis of previous work or competitor activity that successfully achieved the aims that you need your next idea to accomplish.Once this analysis is complete, the aim will be to see where improvements can be made to achieve even better results than before.
- Reaction – Responding to developments. This involves being able to adapt your idea when external forces make it necessary, e.g. a change in strategy from the client, new product or service information and mainstream media news.
Not all ideas are good ones…
After stating his approach, Peter was quick to point out that ideation doesn’t always equate to the best ideas.
One of the reasons for this is that what we usually define as a ‘good’ idea in our context is the success of an idea. However, success is a retrospective judgment (hindsight) so it is only measurable once the idea has become a reality.
This can be problematic because you can’t trial the success of a content piece until it has been implemented (which is why testing is important).
This is why it’s vital to consider how we can have a ‘prospective’ judgment.
Peter gave us some tips on the most useful ‘prospective’ things to consider when trying to make successful content:
- Consider constraints – Is the idea achievable? Is it feasible in relation to capabilities and factors such as budget, deadline, functionality, and brand?
- Be retrospective – Has anything similar to your idea worked or failed in the past? Can you find an example of a competitor succeeding or failing with a similar idea?
- Do your research – Do as much research as you can – find out if there are trends or factors you haven’t considered
Finally, you need to be able to accept the possibility of initial failure because even your best idea can fail. The lesson is to keep learning in order to improve and keep trying until you achieve your goals, no matter what the setback.
Peter concluded his presentation by discussing the SCAMPER Approach:
S = Substitute
C = Combine
A = Adapt
M = Magnify
P = Put to Other Uses
E = Eliminate (alternative is Minify)
R = Rearrange (alternative is Reverse)
SCAMPER is essentially the philosophy that everything that’s created or generated will be a variation of something that’s already in known existence.
Keeping this in mind, SCAMPER is an acronym in which each letter represents a different method by which a person can explore the issues that are challenging them to formulate new and potentially successful ideas.
The SCAMPER Approach was illustrated and expanded upon by Peter in the following way:
- S: What to substitute in my current idea?
- C: How do I blend this idea with other activities?
- A: What to copy or adapt the idea of another person or company?
- M: What do I put more focus on or magnify with this idea?
- P: What other uses can I put this idea to?
- E: What do I eliminate or make easier with my idea?
- R: How do I change, reverse or reorder this idea?
If you’re struggling with ideation, the SCAMPER Approach can help you to evaluate the strength and plausibility of your idea – and will also give you options to improve your idea even further to allow it to blossom and, therefore, give you the best chance of achieving your goals.