Of Ideas and Potato Products - Medallion Retail
Strategy, Creativity, Retail Marketing

Of Ideas and Potato Products

POSTED ON: 05/10/16 Hot Retail Ideas

“Do you want fries with that?”

An appropriate and lovely thing to say when one is manning a drive-thru window.

Not so lovely when uttered to a client who has just ordered ten more ideas to replace the ones she just heard – and hated.

Yes, I said those words, and no, I’ve never worked in fast food a day in my life. I remember feeling rather pleased with my snappy message-cloaked-in-a-quip rejoinder. That feeling lasted about two seconds.

Then the client, a smart marketer and mentor to this day, said, “That’s funny. But you do realize that’s your job, don’t you?”

She was right.

I realized that my job was selling ideas; bite-sized concepts, on demand. And if the client wanted me to put them in a paper bag along with a double burger and toss it into her car as she whizzed by, then paint my face and call me Ronald.

That was 20 years ago. I’m still cranking out delicious, high-sodium concepts, made to order and guaranteed fresh. Ideas are my fries, and I now know that the metal basket in which they sizzle can never be empty.

OK. Yes. I’ve officially lost control of this potato metaphor, but the point is valid.

Marketers sell ideas. And we must deliver those ideas when the higher-ups want them, not when we feel like having them. We can’t wait for the Muse to decide to drop in; we work in the moment; this is about producing in real time.

So what if the client needs new stuff ASAP, but the brain is drained? (Much like that basket of fries. Boom! I’m back.) Try lateral thinking.

Ponder something other than the idea that just isn’t jelling. Take a mental break and distract the mind with a question that has nothing to do with the assignment. Thinking laterally re-energizes a tired head, and quite often leads to perspectives one might otherwise miss.

Here are some of the questions I use to take my thinking in a new direction:

  • Which is stronger—mind over matter or matter over mind?
  • Draw the color blue.
  • How would life be different if you couldn’t make a mistake?
  • List things that are subtle.
  • What was the best thing before sliced bread?
  • Head, egg, case, diamond, code. Which word doesn’t belong?
  • Which moves faster—yellow or black?
  • If you had only 10 words to use, what would they be?
  • Name small things that are big.
  • What does “surprise” taste like?
  • Name things you don’t think about.
  • Nail, ring, car, golf ball, lane. Which thing doesn’t belong?
  • How are unite and untie similar?
  • Name things that could function inside out.
  • Which provokes more thought—a window or a door?
  • List things that don’t change.
  • Name ways to break up combinations.
  • How would life be different if plastic was never invented?
  • Invent a new cliché.
  • Chill, can, ball, phone, cold. Which word doesn’t belong?
  • Which weighs more, a period or a question mark?
  • Explain who you are without using words.
  • Which is louder—thinking or winking?
  • Name things that glow.
  • How are looking and exploring different?
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