When it comes to book marketing—or any kind of marketing, really—the brainstorming session plays a critical role in strategy development, campaign direction, and overall efficiency and effectiveness. At Smith Publicity, we review all angles of our clients’ materials—their book, message, background, personality, and our ever-important author questionnaire—before we even sit down at the brainstorming table. That way we have all the information we need to launch into a productive discussion.
That said, anyone can sit at a table and have a conversation. Brainstorming needs to have its own flavor and direction, and several elements need to be in place for it to reach its fullest potential.
Here’s a quick review of what we consider the ingredients of effective brainstorming:
The more info, the better
You need to know what you’re working with before you can start spouting off ideas. That’s why we gather a wealth of information from our clients before the campaign kicks off. We want to know their background, whether or not they’re comfortable in front of a camera, what issues are on—or off—limits in an interview, and general demeanor and expectations. All these things play into how a campaign is structured, and all these are discussed in our brainstorming sessions.
The more ideas, the better
There’s no such thing as a bad idea. Truly. Yes, every campaign is limited in various ways, but any idea—big, small, or improbable—can launch creative discussion, and that’s what brainstorming is all about. At Smith, we encourage everyone to share ideas. Then we mold those ideas and run with them.
Work to strengths
Every person at the brainstorming table brings a different set of skill sets and strengths. These should be recognized and respected throughout the discussion. Use these strengths to your benefit and build on them. If one person is better with the big picture, give them an opportunity to share that picture with the group. Then turn to your team’s logistics expert and ask how that idea can be turned into a reality.
Gather the info
Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many brainstorming sessions happen with lots of talking and no recording. Make sure you have a handy and efficient way to take notes of what’s being discussed so you can refer to it later. If possible, make one person the official—or unofficial—team secretary.
Look into the future
One important aspect of brainstorming is being able to see into the future. For many of us, experience works as our crystal ball. Anticipate potential problems and have a plan to solve them. It’s not always possible to foresee every snafu, but be proactive when you can. It will save lots of time in the long run. Be sure to ask yourself: If we implement Idea A, Consequence B might happen. What will we do then?