Somewhere in an office right now, an employee is guarding his computer like a hawk. He’s trying to protect his latest great idea to prevent a fellow employee from stealing the idea, or taking the credit – and the spotlight.
That office is not SEOhaus. You see, as I have learned quickly at SEOhaus, we appreciate the power of a good group brainstorm session, and feeding off of each other to get the job done. Our clients thank us for that for one reason: it gets results.
We recently had a client who wanted to switch gears on his campaign to promote a more humorous, light-hearted undertone. It being a unique niche, it wasn’t easy to get the thought process flowing so a co-worker put the idea out on the floor. Within 6 minutes we had more than a dozen ideas – many worthy of reporting back to the client.
And that was just the beginning of things going well for the account. The results of our brainstorm – and the social campaign that followed – yielded huge results for the client. We’re talking a 98% increase over their average social shares. It also led to 60% more social referrals than their previously best-performing post.
Skeptical that a brainstorm alone can yield these results? Check out why we think it’s so great, and how you can incorporate it into your work life.
So What’s So Great about Group Brainstorming?
A Diverse Point of View
No matter what industry you’re in, chances are that your clients each have very diverse customer bases. And unless you change personalities as often as a teenager girl changes outfits, you’re not going to be able to put yourself in those customers’ shoes to truly understand their needs and wants, or the best channels to reach them. When you brainstorm as a group, however, you’re diversifying the mindset. Each person involved has unique experience that will shape the way they respond to the task, or issue at hand. Let this work to your benefit. This can give you many different angles that you previously may not have considered on your own. Sure, you could spend tons of time and even money on market research (and for some clients you’ll have to), but you’d be surprised what a nice sample your very own office can provide.
In this case, our goal was to expose our client’s website to new audiences and ultimately increase their client base. By gathering ideas from the group, we were able to appeal to the humor of a diverse group of people. When we reported these ideas back to the client, they were impressed with the creative and broad-appeal topics we came up with in such a short period of time. And ultimately, this approach helped us attract the likes and shares we were looking for.
It Can Get the Ball Rolling
We’ve all been there before, staring at a project for what seems like forever – and getting nowhere. Sometimes all you need is a little push in the right direction. Opening the floor for discussion can be that bit of help that gets your own mind churning and the ideas flowing. And that effect is magnified amongst all the participants of the brainstorm. It’s pretty remarkable how quickly employees can build upon each other ideas to arrive at a great final product.
With this example, it took a few minutes to get the first idea on the table, but once it was there, everyone was able to build off of each idea and make improvements, until we reached the final ideas to present.
Creates a Better Working Environment
Just as a supportive, collaborative working environment is needed to even allow brainstorming to begin, brainstorming can in-turn nurture that working environment. It’s a symbiotic relationship of sorts. Think about it: would you rather be the guy huddled at your desk by yourself or have an open, supportive relationship with your co-workers?
We must warn though, doing this consistently can lead people to get REALLY open. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it’s a good thing HR was on lunch during this particular brainstorm. But as long as you’re okay with knowing just a bit more about your co-workers than most would – go for it! Trust us, the benefits are usually well worth a few awkward stares.
Make It Happen
You will hear a lot of businesses talk about teamwork and collaboration, but it takes a conscious effort to actually walk the walk. If you think your office collaboration could use a bit of work to really foster solid brainstorming and teamwork, here are some ideas to get started.
- Chat It Up
Having an employee chat room can serve as an open forum throughout the day – a place to bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions about common clients, or get feedback on work. Of course, you’ll want to set guidelines to prevent misuse of the software, but in most cases employees will use the tool for good, not evil.
- Open Spaces
Some offices lend themselves to an open floor plan, but for others it will take a bit more work. Either way, having an open office environment, or even a common room employees can retreat to (that’s not the water cooler) can open the doors of communication. Individuals are much more likely to collaborate if they’re physically interacting with each other, not just email addresses.
- Create a No-Judgment Zone
If employees have any inkling that their ideas will be balked at, demeaned or otherwise not valued, they’re not going to go all-in during the brainstorm session. Don’t allow negativity during group brainstorms. For brainstorming to work well, all those involved, particularly the decision makers need to “think gray.” Thinking gray can apply to most business decisions, and essentially means hold off on forming opinions until you’ve heard all sides. You’d be surprised what emerges as the clear winner after everything is laid out on the table.
Give It a Shot
Though sometimes it can seem easier to stay organized and complete tasks by making them your sole responsibility, asking for a little help from the group can yield impressive results for your clients – and when they win, everybody wins. So next time you’re feeling stuck on an idea or need a bit of creative juice, open it up to the floor and trust the process. And in case you still need help brainstorming more brainstorming ideas, check out some of these tips, from Inc.com and Open Ideo.