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5 Ways You Can Bring More Creativity into Brainstorming and Kick-Start the Flow of Ideas

Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy Katrina Pfannkuch, who is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, content strategy and creative coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd and loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. You can catch Katrina or read her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina.

The game of brainstorming is changing. You need a way to quickly develop nimble, real-time marketing strategies that are creative, engaging, and have a shelf-life beyond a single tweet. More importantly, each idea needs to be connected with an execution strategy and buyer persona. There’s also an ongoing customer demand for consistent quality content that personally speaks to their needs. 

When you add up all these details, the new marketing reality becomes clear: Brainstorming is no longer an activity you do a few times a year—it’s your most powerful tool.

"On average, marketers need one new idea per working day to fuel their marketing efforts. That’s 251 ideas per year." —Jean Spencer, Analyst for Content Ideas: The First-Ever Research on Marketing Content Ideas

To infuse your brainstorm sessions with an extra creative punch, here are some simple things that can be big game-changers.

1) Listen to music or an inspiring podcast. 

Humans thrive when they feel connected and creative, so get inspired before your work session begins. Create a brainstorming playlist to listen to and get pumped up before tossing ideas onto the whiteboard. Rather listen to a podcast? Fire up an episode of your favorite podcast or find a new one that piques your curiosity. When you can get into a flow before you brainstorm, you bring that energy into the session, making it easier to tune into ideas that match the same feeling.

2) Get outside.

Nature is the master-inspirer. There’s so much to see and feel, which helps you get out of your head and into your senses. When you are on a deadline, the mind and natural stress responses in the body can get in the way of letting creative flow evolve naturally. A little extra time in nature before you get to work can be the extra boost you need to stay present and fully focused.

“The demand for original content never wanes, but we creative brains sometimes feel squeezed like a Scotch-Brite sponge: wrung out.” —Jean Spencer, Analyst for Content Ideas: The First-Ever Research on Marketing Content Ideas.

3) Bring in the “Devil’s Advocate." 

For every great creative idea there’s a counter-idea. Why not explore them all? When you're open to seeing both sides of the picture it allows you to branch out, double the possibilities, and troubleshoot all angles. You can also take a second look at older ideas and use them as a springboard to uncover a cool new marketable twist.

4) Combine words and visual concepts through mind mapping.

Take words and concepts and organize them in a visual way, to take the mind out of a linear view. Mind mapping helps marketers see how ideas are connected in a more useful, real-life application and enables you to free associate more easily. This framework invites playful connection between ideas, connections, and colors. In turn, this sparks more innovative thinking.

5) Go play a little. ;)

Play is often underrated as a creative catalyst because it's not always deemed "workplace suitable." But it’s actually the ultimate way to fire up inspiration. Find a way to break the daily grind by spicing up your mind and spirit with a little fun. 

Even if you add just one of these creative catalysts to your brainstorming session, you can loosen up creative flow and bust out of any rut that has you feeling bored and stale.

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