‘Yes, and’…and Other Ways to Create An Abundance of Ideas

When brainstorming campaign ideas or ideating a piece of content, it’s easy to get inside your own head. You think, craft ideas, develop drafts, revise copy and re-revise it for hours on end. Completing an asset and getting it out into the field is a tremendous accomplishment, but you may find that it’s not performing well. Emails are clicked and opened, but no ones converting. What happened?
It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you didn’t work hard enough. The likely reason why your content fell flat is that you didn’t consult enough outside parties before launching. In fact, collecting feedback from team members, subject-matter experts and even clients and prospects, is often the missing link in developing killer content ideas, according to The Second City Works

During their keynote presentation at B2BMX, Meagan O’Brien and Andy Eninger of Second City Works walked attendees through a series of exercises to show how they can listen better, collaborate smarter and “create in abundance.” Here are a few quick tips from their session: 

  1. Learn how to really listen: When we have conversations, especially with clients and prospects, we tend to follow a standard script of key points and value propositions. We end up latching onto a word or term we can relate to, and finding a way to push our own agenda. This approach needs to go out the window. Instead, we need to truly listen and get the full context of what people are saying. Only then can you determine the best way to continue the conversation.
  2. Create from abundance: There are many improv principles that sales reps and marketers can apply. One of the most well-known exercises they can use to expand their creative horizons is the “yes, and” exercise. When we collaborate with team members, we tend to shut them out if we don’t fully agree. However, “yes, and” is the framework to create an abundance of ideas and content. As you’re chatting with colleagues and coming up with ideas, saying “yes and” will help you acknowledge, refine and further build upon ideas. 

  3. Don’t be afraid to fail: Eninger noted that “a killer idea only works when you can sell it to the crowd.” From the perspective of Second City, one of the most reputable improv organizations in the country, that means spending hours in the writers’ room, only to find that some ideas fall like a lead balloon once they’re performed in front of a crowd. Failure happens and marketers shouldn’t be afraid of it. We should use failure as a way to determine what doesn’t work and find ways to move forward and improve.

  4. Start with your own story: For some marketers, creating content from the audience’s perspective can be challenging. It takes a significant shift in thinking and, in the end, storytelling. Start with your own story. Then, determine the role that other characters may play in the story and what their experiences will be. Peeling back these layers can help you uncover a new story and ideas for content.


Has your company used any of these methods during the content creation process? Share your experiences in the comments section below. 




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