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Thinking Outside the Box is a Must!

Thinking Outside the Box is a Must!

When I hear, “think outside of the box” it generally sets my teeth on edge. In my opinion, it is an overused business phrase. The cute way of saying that we need to problem solve and be creative is now used so often that it isn’t actually thinking outside the box when it is uttered in a meeting.

The reality is that solving problems is what life is all about…right? We must always be thinking outside of the box, analyzing the boundaries, asking questions, figuring out if the boundaries make sense. Sometimes they do and sometimes it is time to expand those boundaries to solve a problem or a marketing challenge.

You must think outside the box to meet your goals in life and certainly in direct marketing. It is a requirement. Good and effective marketing is all about stretching boundaries, expanding the possibilities and catching the interest of the elusive consumer.

Color inside the lines? Are you crazy? That is what your competition does every day. How can you compete if you do the same thing as them? And if your ideas aren’t better then you’re really screwed.

Here are some questions to get the conversation started with your team for effective problem solving:

  1. Why? As in why are we talking about this challenge? Why does it matter?
  2.  Who cares? Who cares about this issue or topic? Who feels passionately about it? What will trigger a response?
  3. Why? Yes ask it again. The answers will be different and will give you more information to solve the problem.
  4. What is the response we want? As in, how do we want the targeted audience to respond? What is the call to action?
  5. Why? No I’m not stuttering, ask it a third time, again you will get more answers that elaborate on the reasons and as you dig into the reasons you see more opportunity.
  6. How? How do we get their attention? How do we want to do this?
  7. Why? I know, I know you’re thinking I really am losing it, I’m not. Each time you ask this crucial question you get more information.
  8. When and where? When should you kick off the changes? When will it have impact? When does it make sense? Where will it have best impact?
  9. Why? This 5th time is the charm, and truly where the rubber meets the road (another over used phrase —  I couldn’t resist). Here’s where you’ll hear the truest answers after your team has evaluated the who, the what, the when, the where, the how…the real “Why” gives you the best data to figure out the solution.

Quick side bar – want your kids to learn how to think outside the box? Have them try DI (www.idodi.org). It is the best creative problem-solving program out there.