Six Idea-Starters for Any Advertiser

Consider It Advice From Your Go-to Advertising Friend

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Dana Severson
Dana Severson
So I have this friend, he's an attorney, a business-litigation attorney to be exact. For some reason, whenever I have a legal question, no matter if it's business or personal, I ask him for advice. To which he normally responds, "Dude, how many times do I have to tell you, 'I have no idea; I'm a contract attorney.'" His response always reminds me of my first job in radio. Friends (who I didn't even know were my "friends") would call me up, out of the blue, and ask if I had any tickets to whatever show was in town. Even though we were an alternative rock station, everyone still seemed to believe that I would have backstage access to Chumbawamba and Busta Rhymes. Sadly, a lot of times I did.

It's funny how someone can quickly get pigeon-holed into becoming the go-to resource for all things related to a given profession. I'm guilty of it. In fact, I do it all the time with my mechanic friend, investment friend, accounting friend and the list goes on. That's probably why it doesn't bother me as much when I get asked for advice when it comes to needing an idea. Granted, I'm terrible at coming up with gift ideas, but, for the most part, I always seem to have a thought or two on anything marketing related. Considering that I normally get paid for developing concepts, I developed a short list of some basic idea-starters that I can give out at will.

Try these on for size:

Purchase one 60-second radio ad per day to run at the same time on the same station and the same program. Make sure that the beginning and end of your spot is consistent each day, but use the middle to change your message. Make it useful for the listener. For example, If you're a financial planner, give a daily market report.

Instead of just placing a standard ad in print, work with the magazine to find unique opportunities to promote your message. For example, create a small ad that runs on the header or footer of every page in the magazine, changing each ad to complete the story with every page. Or, create a flipbook style ad that appears in the corners of every page.

Do something bold/unexpected with your brand. If you're a construction company, paint your fleet of trucks pink. If you're an accounting firm, set up a dork cam (sorry accountants), and say, "Giving you something to do when you get tired of watching your grass grow." Regardless of your industry, feed into the stereotypes and break out of your mold, it will get you noticed.

Give something away everyday on Twitter at random times (and, I'm not talking about a t-shirt -- make sure it's something that people desire). Give your followers a reason to have your name on a search query, watching your every tweet.

Find unique ways to promote your company and products. Think about where your customers spend their time. If you're a dating service, create custom beer glasses with your ad on the bottom of every glass and pay local bars to use your glasses to serve to their customers. If you're a retailer, develop wrapping paper that has "after the holiday" coupons on the back. Give the paper to customers for free to encourage after-the-holiday spending.

If you want your billboard to have legs, don't do what everyone else does. If it's a digital billboard, make it interactive. Allow users to determine what appears by having them visit your site and uploading their picture, name, special note, etc. If it's a static billboard, get clever. For example, if you're a company that makes air filters, turn the billboard into a gigantic filter and allow it to collect the debris in the air. Use it as a massive way to demonstrate your product or service.

If these idea-starters didn't help, and you still need some more advice, leave a comment or shoot me an email. As long as you're not asking for an idea on the best dish to serve at your dinner party, I can probably help.

Born with a large forehead and natural ability to develop outrageously absurd ideas, Dana Severson was immediately drawn to the advertising industry at a very early age. Growing up, he'd often get caught sipping a three-finger apple juice (disguised as cognac), smoking candy cigarettes, dressed like his favorite superhero, David Ogilvy. Fast forward a few decades, and we find Dana getting paid to develop outrageously absurd ideas at his advertising firm, Idea Heroes and downing three-shot espressos. Dana is an active blogger and is known to post random advertising concepts on Twitter. He is available for sideshow demonstrations and Bill Bernbach impersonations.
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