September, 20, 2017
Where can I get ideas?
19 Jan
Posted by Pravin Shekar

The author believes that ideas are everywhere. It is up to us to pick, choose, adapt and implement – all towards the outlier-marketing goal of achieving the set business objectives.

The last two articles spoke about the basics of Outlier marketing and being receptive to new ideas. This article provides some gyan on WHERE to get the ideas from.

1. From within

Yes. Look inwards. Experiences that you have had or friends have shared. Something that has been a part of your growing years or learning curve. There are so many episodes and instances that you can dig-out and use/reuse.

* Example: Old wine in a new bottle

If your target segment is in the age group of 40 and above, you can create awareness by conducting games “they used to play”. At a recent exhibition, one of my investee companies had a carrom board at their booth. Just that board and nothing else! Needless to say, there was a lot of buzz, 409 visitors of which several stayed back to talk business.

Was it something new? Not in the game but a definite yes in bringing that game in a business context. The same is applicable with paper planes and “Trade/Monopoly”. Another exhibitor at the same conference had a customized Snakes and ladder game! Again, a big draw!

2 External Inspirations!

Go on. Admit it. You’ve done it before. However, did you clear that Trigonometry test, or complex differential equations?

Copying from one source is called plagiarism.

Copying from multiple sources is called research!

Jokes aside, inspiration is all around us, if our eyes and ears are open!

Most of the executed tactics are inspired from one source or another.

Creative communication and tactics are available, not just in India but abroad as well. What works there needn’t work here. Therefore, you need to add that dash of localization.

Example of executed ideas that assist in creating awareness:

Research now: For a big conference, they took over the escalators and elevators. The escalators had their logo plastered on the sides. The elevator doors and the insides of the elevator carried their logo.

OnDevice App: These folks went one step ahead. All the door-cards at the conference venue hotel were replaced with a card bearing their company logo, messaging and call to action!

Both ideas are impressive and can be adapted to the local milieu.

Here’s another one:

Yama for spreading social awareness messages

This is an example where Yama, the God of death according to Hindu mythology, has been used to spread messages. The arrival of Yama is equated with the end of your time on this planet! His image (face, crown, a lasso in one hand, riding on a buffalo) has been used/copied to send out clear warning messages!

In one instance, painted in such a way that the head is large and visible and an open drainage without a cover as the mouth. Clearly sending out a message to the local municipal corporation that drainage without a cover is a death warrant for motorists!

Sera, a pub in Chennai, decided to run a social message campaign:

When the pub’s patrons left the establishment, they passed on the valet parking stub to the attendant. The vehicle arrives and the patron takes the driver’s seat and is shocked to find the God of death sitting beside him! An actor, dressed exactly like Yama, complete with the mace and the big moustache.

The message: Don’t drink and drive!

Take a cab instead.

This exercise was done over a few evenings and the reactions were captured on video. Hilarious, shocking, viral, a gamut of emotions, but the message got across.

3. Original ideation

Now you are entering dangerous territory….. When were we ever trained on original thought! What does it mean? Where have I done it before? How can I do it?

No guts, no glory

No pain. No gain

A few of your “friends” need to laugh at your idea – this means you are on the right track.

Let’s look at this episode: Toilet sponsor of the day.

You’ve heard about event sponsors, session sponsors, even lunch and dinner sponsors. Have you heard about the “Toilet Sponsor of the Day”?

Piques your interest, doesn’t it? Don’t you want to know more?

Curiosity arousal, by just being catty about it!, an idea validation company launched their service as a toilet sponsor. They selected a marquee feature event by a leading entrepreneur association. Banners were laid out, on the floor, all along the route leading into the conference hall. The message had the image of a commode that said “Don’t Flush”. Each seat had a poser that conveyed the same message. Next to each seat was a bottle of water.

The sponsor had his time to present, and he invited everyone to open the bottle and drink it all up. He invited them to flip the posters on their seat, which stated “Don’t flush away a business idea.” He then invited all of them to visit the restroom facilities! The restrooms had cheeky posters all over with messages inviting the viewer to “Peek before you leak” and to take business decisions with the relevant data.

All leads were directed to the booth at that event which lead to a positive buzz from forty-two entrepreneurs with nine of them signing up immediately, and five a bit later.

Business was good – and the awareness, even better.

Who would forget a toilet sponsor, anyway!?


All this ideation is good. The execution is what brings home the money. Why are you ideating? What is the overall objective? What are the key metrics to track and measure against? Does each idea contribute directly to lead-gen and business?

Note this down and track to closure. Repeat successful ideas. Tweak/Repeat or drop the not-successful ones. Always measure, track and document – at an activity level.

About the author: Pravin is a startup specialist, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur and likes to call himself Pravin “Shameless” Shekar. He is the author of a book on Outlier marketing, Devil Does Care and can be reached at;

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