The topic or subject
The environment in which the idea will come alive, and most important,
The audiences who will connect with the potential ideas.
The goal of this step is to thoroughly understand these elements – the topic, the environment and the audience – so that a key insight might be isolated and transformed into a compelling idea. (Definition of an insight: “The ability to understand the true or core nature of something.”)
While it’s possible the key insight might be about the topic or its environment, more often than not, the insight comes understanding the audience. The primary way to learn this is not from demographics, but from psychographics, or ‘how they behave.’
Here’s an example of how it typically shouldn’t work. Last week, I participated in a brainstorm where our client had provided ample information about their service, but virtually no information about the target audience. While the sales team had plenty of anecdotal information about the end user, they hadn’t analysed what they knew to determine what key insight might be leveraged into a potential idea to inspire or engage their core audience. As a consequence, our brainstorm never “took off.” We simply couldn’t generate any good ideas because we couldn’t connect the product to the consumer.
Of all the information to gather before the brainstorm begins, these are the top five questions whose answers should provide the link between their desires and the product or service you’re brainstorming.
- What does the primary audience believe or perceive about the topic or category of your product or service?
- Why do they believe this? What happened in the past, either through personal or indirect experience?
- How does your product or service fit into their knowledge of the topic, or perception of the category?
- Within this topic or category, what do they want, or dream to have?
- Within this topic or category, what do they dislike, or want to avoid?
Knowing the insights about the audience in advance of the brainstorm means participants will be more likely to create ideas that fulfil a desire, eliminate a negative perception, or dispel an issue. By understanding and observing their behaviour, you might find an idea which replicates what they’re already doing – perhaps improving it slightly, making it more engaging, enticing or easy to do. At the very least, you have a better sense of whether or not the audience would like and interact with the potential ideas.