Have Markers, Will Travel: Ideation Sessions, Messaging Sessions, Brainstorms

Brainstorms, Ideation, IRL, Whiteboards

walt-hand-whiteboarding

Let’s put our heads together and our hands to the board.

We can bake up new brand messaging, or tackle a tagline, or craft the perfect home page copy, or ideate a luscious live event, or concept a web series, or hurl out a whole lot of headlines. 

Together.

It’s a good change from writing solo, and I’ve seen it work spectacularly over the years. I come in, we conjure, you keep the ideas, I go put more money in the parking meter, everybody wins.

I can be engaged to lead ideation sessions, brainstorms and messaging meetings, or to participate in them; from one person to many; from a conference room to a couch in the lobby; from a single hour to a series of meetings strategically scheduled over days.

For most of them, I bring my “What Would Winona Want?” avatar-based brainstorm technique to guide you and your team through strategic ideation. Results: crystalized brand stories, unified messaging that ignites marketing campaigns, turns prospects into customers, and turns customers into brand advocates.

Recently I have led in-depth ideation sessions for Centene Corporation, Nurse Response, World Wide Wadio, Dovetail, 2e Creative, Spoke Marketing, MGM Management Group, Parkside Financial Bank and Trust, the Gateway Interactive Marketing Association, RBO Print Logistix, and for students at Webster University.

I have participated in them for CBS-TV, 20th Century Fox, Grey Goose Vodka, Dewar’s Scotch, SSM Health Care, Hodgson Mill and many, many world-class brands.

I am ready at the whiteboard.

Oh, sure, I might sniff the markers a little.

But that’s part of the fun.

waltnow-walltjaschek-whiteboard

Walt Jaschek invites contact.

“What Would Winona Want?” My Avatar-Based System for Whiteboard Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorms, Ideation, Whiteboards

Pssst! Someone’s missing from our messaging meetings. Not Marissa. She’s still at lunch with the client. Good. Not Marv. He’s under his headphones. Let him be.

The missing person is­­­­­­ our prospect.

That’s “prospect,” singular, not “prospects,” plural, nor (ugh) “target audience.” F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Begin with an individual, and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created… nothing.”

An individual prospect should be present in all messaging meetings — not physically, fun as that would be — but virtually. If we don’t have research, qualitative and quantitative, then the prospect P.O.V. can be represented via a unique scientific innovation I call “best guess.”

It starts like this. On the whiteboard I draw a cartoon figure of the prospect, give that “person” a name, because a real name invokes a real conversation, and for the sake of this post, let’s call “her” “Winona,” and if that name invokes a certain film actress, well, pure coincidence. (Paid stock photo above notwithstanding.)

Then we as a group look at the cartoon avatar and list a few things we “know” about this person. Often, participants in the session can be effortlessly, ridiculously specific, because they often actually know, In Real Life, an individual prospect: “She loves her new Tesla.” “She only drinks reds.” “She probably has never heard of our product.”

These avatars, then, “participate” in the brainstorm, as we channel their reactions to our messaging ideas. When someone takes a stab at a differentiator – “our people make the difference” – we toss that to Winona. Maybe she agrees; maybe she calls “B.S.” But at some ideas, she smiles, and I draw the smile. The ones we feel she truly “gets” are usually more relevant, more authentic, and, praise Odin, less complex.

About that, a great book called Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn, says this:

“Complexity is a coward’s way out. There is nothing simple about simplicity, and achieving it requires empathizing (by perceiving others’ needs and expectations), distilling (by reducing to its essence the substance of one’s offer) and clarifying (by making the offer easier to understand and use).”

Hmmm. That’s a lot of parentheses for a paragraph about simplicity. But of course I believe they’re right. And I believe the mission of message strategists is not to make our product or service understandable. It’s to make our prospect feel understood.

And at that, look: Winona smiles!

To engage Walt Jaschek to lead or participate in a prospect-channeling whiteboard session, use this contact form, or ask Winona to ask him to call you.