Turn things upside down for better results!

  photo by peggyhr

Sometimes it can really help to look at things upside down…or backwards if you want to find some answers!  The change in perspective generates a lot of ideas and be a valuable tool.

I’m talking about Reverse Brainstorming – a simple and powerful way to spark ideas that might get overlooked if you were coming up with a list of things you could do. 

The process is simple – isolate a problem that you’d like to solve…in the article above they used the example of ‘How can we improve patient satisfaction’.  Then you simply reverse the idea and brainstorm possible answers on ‘How can we make patient satisfaction worse?.

The reversal opens up all sorts of possibilities and often puts you closer to the situation.  Let’s try a different example hits most small business owners:  “How do I get more effective marketing”?

We’ll start by reversing the idea:

“How can I make my marketing less effective?”

Here are just a few ideas…unfortunately most of these are things I’ve seen with actual businesses – I imagine you could come up with a lot more!

  • Be difficult to find online.
  • Run marketing activities on a really inconsistent schedule…do it steadily for a few weeks and then stop for a month or two.
  • Make sure your marketing talks all about how great you are…
  • Don’t give the potential client any reason to follow up.
  • Make it a challenging puzzle for the prospective client to figure out what the product or service is and who you are.

This is obviously an incomplete list – there are a lot of ways to be less effective when it comes to marketing, but it’s a pretty good starting point.

The next step is to look at the ideas that resonate, even a little and reverse them back into potential solutions.  This works especially well if you have a couple of people to bounce ideas with.

Example 1 – Be difficult to find online

Be difficult to find online is an easy reversal into ‘make it easy to be found online’.  Studies have shown that 98% of buyers go online to search for solutions for problems – if you can’t be found on those searches…then you don’t exist…and you’re not going to land any new clients! 

That doesn’t mean you need to build a $20,000 website and go all in for expensive Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, but you do need to understand who might be looking for you and what it would take to at least be a consideration when they’re searching.  Look into things like local search (here’s another good guide to local search) and the important basics of Search Engine Optimization.  There are a lot of effective things you can do that don’t cost that much money but can generate a great return.

Example 2 – Don’t give the potential client any reason to follow up

Sadly the examples of marketing materials out there that don’t give potential clients any reason to follow up are everywhere.  Open up a local paper or a magazine and I can guarantee you’ll find a ‘So What’ ad in the first couple that you look at. 

A lot of business owners are sold on the idea of ‘Getting their name out there’ as being useful in some way – but the reality is that unless you’ve got the advertising budget of Pepsi…or Budweiser…name recognition isn’t worth much and certainly doesn’t drive sales.

Let’s reverse it – “Give the potential client a clear reason to follow up”.  If you’re spending money on advertising, what outcome do you want?  Obviously you want more customers, but realistically, what’s the next step that you want that potential client to take?  Maybe you want them to give you a call.  Maybe you want them to go onto your website and download a report (giving you their email address and approval to market to them further).  Maybe you want them to try out a discounted or sample size of your product.

What ever the case is, once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want them to do as a result of the ad – then construct the message around convincing them to do that very thing.  Give them a strong call to action:  “Tired of feeling overwhelmed with your business and not making the kind of money you know you can make?  Contact Shawn today for a free consultation!” 

Not only do you need to be clear on what you want them to do, give them a reason to do it and make it exceedingly easy for them to follow through!

What could you turn upside down in your business?

Reverse Brainstorming works best with a small group, but you could do it on your own as well.  What issue that you’re facing would work really well with this process?  Share your thoughts below – I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach