You’ve got an eCommerce store on Etsy or Shopify or WooCommerce, or you’re selling products on Amazon. But what happens when your sales slow down and you’re fresh out of ideas for new products? It’s time for a brainstorming session!
If you’ve never done it before – or you haven’t really thought about brainstorming as a process – you’re in the right place. In this article, you’ll learn what brainstorming is, how to jump-start a brainstorming session, and which tools can help you arrive at the new product ideas you need.
What is Brainstorming?
Let’s start with a definition of brainstorming. Many of the explanations online call it a group activity but it doesn’t need to be done with other people. You can come up with terrific ideas on your own.
A good way to think about brainstorming is that it’s like exploring your brain. You have a lot of information and thoughts and memories there and brainstorming is your opportunity to make new connections and come up with fresh ideas.
If you’ve got a printables shop, for example, you’ve probably already done a lot of research about your target audience and what they want. You also have extensive knowledge of the products and designs you’ve already created. A good brainstorming session can help you adapt your existing products to create new ones – or come up with additional products that will appeal to the people who already love your shop.
Brainstorm Strategy #1: Competitor Research
When you’re struggling to come up with new product ideas, you might wonder where to go for inspiration. One option is to peep into your competitor’s shops and see what they’re selling.
This isn’t about stealing their ideas. Instead, it’s a method to let you take inspiration from what other shop owners are doing and then creating your own version of it. For example, if you sell printable bullet journals, you might notice that another shop owner did a set of stickers for parents to use to keep track of their kids’ school activities. That idea is something you can then take, create your own design and stickers, and add them to your shop.
When you do competitor research, make sure to pay attention to sales numbers and reviews. There’s no point in creating a product that isn’t selling or that people don’t have a use for. Focus on their bestsellers and the products with the best reviews and then put your imagination and creativity to work.
Brainstorm Strategy #2: Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a great technique to come up with new ideas and design concepts. It’s a visual method that allows you to play some word association, connect different topics and design ideas, and come up with new and exciting products to sell.
You can (and many people do) create mind maps with paper and pen or on a whiteboard, but if you prefer digital tools, there are several that you can try. These include Zapier, Miro, Mind Meister, and Lucidchart. All four offer a free basic option and if you like them and want access to more features, you can upgrade to a paid account.
A mind map usually starts with a central idea that you can use to build product ideas. The best way to do it is to give your brain free rein – in other words, no idea is too silly or outlandish to add to your mind map. You can get rid of what doesn’t work later.
Brainstorm Strategy #3: Rapid Ideation
A lot of the popular brainstorming “theories” focus on group sessions, but rapid ideation is something that can work even if you’re the only person whose brain is storming. Here’s how it works.
You start by setting a time limit for new ideas. It can be as short as one minute or as long as ten minutes, but anything longer than that is likely to be too long to be effective.
Set an alarm or timer for your chosen time and as quickly as you can, write down as many ideas as you can. Don’t stop to think about them. You can use a pen and paper or write them on your computer or phone.
When you’re done, you can use a reverse technique, which is crossing out the ideas that don’t work. If you have 20 ideas, tell yourself to narrow your list to 15 and then cross out your five least favorite ideas. Then take your list of 15 and repeat, narrowing it to 10. Pare the list down as far as you can. The ideas you can’t bear to cross out are the ones you should pursue.
Brainstorm Strategy #4: Change Your Location
If you try to brainstorm in the same space where you work, you may find yourself feeling constrained or uninspired. Instead of sitting in that constraint, try getting up and getting out!
Changing locations can be as simple as moving from your home office to your deck. If you want a bigger change, try going to the park or a local coffee shop. The idea is simply to take your brainstorming to a place that might trigger something new and exciting.
Brainstorm Strategy #5: Do Something Repetitive
This last technique might sound odd but it’s something that a lot of creative people swear by when it comes to coming up with new ideas. Sometimes, giving your body something to do can free your brain up to conceptualize new ideas and designs.
The two activities that creative people mention a lot are walking and showering. Some writers even keep waterproof paper and a pen in the shower, so they can capture their ideas in the moment!
Walking has a similar effect. There’s something about moving your body that engages your brain. If you decide to try this technique, bring your phone or a recording device. That way, you’ll be able to record your ideas without stopping your walk.
Brainstorming is one of the best ways I know to arrive at new, creative, and unique ideas for products to sell. The techniques here are things you can try when you feel stumped – and I think you’ll be amazed at how effective they can be.
Do you want to work directly with me to jump-start your product creation and marketing? Click here to learn how!