It’s Your Business: Searching for that next great idea

Joe Smith

Special to The Record

Whether you are a large or small business you should always be searching for that next big idea – an idea that will recharge your marketing strategy, position your business as a trendsetter or take you in a whole new direction.

Ideas like the proverbial lightbulb coming on over your head usually come after you’ve given them considerable thought, sometimes by trial and error, by improving on an existing idea and in other cases by happy accident.

All successful big ideas have similar characteristics or qualities that elevate them beyond the ordinary.

First and foremost is the fact that they can change the way people act towards your business. Big ideas are game-changers that not only impact what people are buying from you but can also alter the course of the market you are working in.

It is also a matter of ownership. People need to see your big idea as being linked specifically to your brand. For example, Ford is often considered the inventor of the assembly line, but it was actually Olds who came up with the basic idea. Ford simply made a few changes and marketed it to the world.

When it comes to simplicity, this is another element of a great idea. Today consumers have so many choices that it can be confusing so the key is to ensure that your idea is easily grasped and above all is readily accepted.

Originality is also another key factor of a great idea. People are inherently looking for something that is new and will also fulfill one of their needs. Sometimes these kinds of ideas happen by happy accidents or in cooperation with someone else. One of the greatest examples of this is the invention of the ice cream cone.

Up until the 1904 World’s Fair, ice cream was always served on a plate. The ice cream vendor miscalculated and was running out of plates. The waffle maker in the next stall was not doing so well so between the two of them they came up with the idea of rolling up the waffles and adding a scoop of ice cream on top. Thus the ice cream cone was born.

Other attributes of great ideas are things like infectiousness. Picture people walking around the World’s Fair licking ice cream off this portable and edible plate, it would certainly have attracted the attention and imagination of other fair-goers. Not only would the idea become infectious but probably contagious and make the ice cream vendor’s stall a magnetic attraction.

In today’s age, there are many examples of big ideas that have gone beyond the creator’s wildest dreams. Think about Facebook, Amazon and Google for example. While we may not all have ideas that are in the same category, we do have big ideas that can potentially focus on the one thing people are looking for … namely what does it do for me?

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca

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