How SCAMPER, Euler’s circles and the How-Now-Wow method work

How SCAMPER, Euler’s circles and the How-Now-Wow method work

It’s four thirty. The office hums with impatience. The post-lunchtime urge to nap is both present and treacherous, and several bedraggled creative types sit slumped around a large blank page.  

Sound familiar? If you’ve ever had to brainstorm for a living, you’ll know that the elusive universal brainstorming technique (you know, the one that keeps your clients happy, gets you in under budget, and destroys your enemies)—doesn’t exist.

Take it from us, we’ve looked! And although we didn’t find it, we did manage to find the next best thing: our top five brainstorming techniques for effective idea generation. 

SIX HATS

You now have six imaginary hats. Each hat is a different colour and requires you to ask different questions about the problem at hand. Go through each hat in turn and approach your problem from a different perspective—take notes! 

White: Discuss your problem with an emphasis on facts and figures. What are the numbers telling you? 

– Hazelnut sales are down 20% from last year. 

Red: Rely on your intuition, focus on the feelings and emotions that arise when discussing the problem. 

– I’m to blame for the drop in numbers, I suck at targeting!  

– No, It’s just that less people are cooking at home, they’re ordering delivery. 

– This is a new reality dictated by the pandemic…

Yellow: What are your positive expectations for the project? What is it that holds positive significance in your idea? 

– Let’s come up with healthy nut based recipes and start promoting them on TikTok. Let’s print a cookbook and post it out with our hazelnuts. Our target market will be those interested in a healthy lifestyle—everything will be healthy, fabulous and green! 

Black: This requires critical thinking. You need to Identify all the risks and possible pitfalls in the implementation of your project.

– How is this going to work? Is there anything healthy about sugar, dough and deserts? With what money are we going to print these books? We’re almost bankrupt! 

Green: This hat is about creativity and imagination. Sit down and dedicate time to search for unexpected, creative and provocative solutions to  your problem. 

– A recipe from the 11th century is nuts with avocado and turkey on corn flour. We’ll find creative recipes to print on pfd, and then we include a QR code that links to instructional videos and extra content! 

Blue: The development of specific stages for the implementation of this goal. This is when we start to plan. What sort of timescale are you looking at? What’s the budget?

– We need to redesign, rename, search for influencers and begin seeding in social networks—let’s go!

 

What’s next? Depending on the task, you can try on hats in a convenient sequence. The technique can also be used with large teams. For example; divide the participants into six teams, record their ideas, then change the “hats” for the teams until all participants have expressed their opinion in each category.

LOTUS FLOWER

This technique helps you generate a solution for the main problem, by solving the auxiliary problems around it. Start with a main topic and expand upon it until you get to several different subtopics. You will need a 9 by 9 cell table – you can print or draw it. 

 

1. In the central cell, write the goal you want to achieve. For example, “Increase the number of active subscribers from one thousand to fifteen thousand”. 

2. In the eight petals around the center, enter the tools that would help achieve this goal. The following are suitable; UGC, influencer advertising, contests, targeting, content plan redesign, entry to other sites, collaborations, competitor analysis. 

3. Take each of these elements separately and come up with eight solutions to these issues.

To rework the content plan, you can try the following solutions: 

  • Re-analysis of target audience; 
  • TOV change; 
  • Updated rubricator; 
  • Increase in the frequency of publications; 
  • Emphasis on stories instead of posts;
  • Live broadcasts with experts that have not been held before;
  • Publications about brand partners who will share these posts on their own;
  • CTA and attempts to display a signature for a dialogue.

    As a result, you will have 64 different solutions to the problem, which can be combined and grouped in any way that seems logical to you.

    SCAMPER

    This method is more suitable for optimizing processes than for giving birth to a brand new idea. With SCAMPER, you need to answer questions from seven categories:

     

    S: Substitute—Is it possible to replace the components of the product to solve the problem? 

    C: Combine—Can it be combined with other solutions, functions or products? 

    A: Adapt—Can new elements and functions be added? 

    M: Modify—Can the product be modified? 

    P: Put to other uses—Can a product or idea be applied in another industry? 

    E: Eliminate—Can the product be simplified to reduce its disadvantages? 

    R: Reverse—Is the opposite solution, idea or product possible?

    Imagine that you were the first car-sharing service in your city, but have failed to develop your software for a long time and have become seriously behind the competition. SCAMPER will tell you in which directions you can move to fix this. 

    Spoiler alert: you can come to both a rebranding and a complete retraining—for example, a courier service.

     

     

    EULER’S CIRCLES

    Euler’s circles are relationship diagrams. They help to find the relationship between objects that appear to be poles apart. Euler’s circles are useful when you have a lot of concepts that you struggle to mentally connect. Unlike Venn diagrams, Euler’s circles show relevant relationships—as opposed to possible relationships between different sets. 

    There are six types of relationships:

    1. Equivalence. Mcdonald’s serves affordable fast food. MAC is a luxury cosmetics brand. You need to clearly associate your product with the niche it occupies. Think about what analogies you can draw and how to connect the psychology of your brand to the physical imagery your customers see. 

    2. Subordination (Coordination). Ethical hair brand Kevin.Murphy not only does not test products on animals, but also minimizes waste. For example, it produces a series of products in recycled ocean plastic. Although animal testing and ocean waste are two seperate issues, they both fall under the umbrella of sustainability. This is what sets the brand apart from other cruelty-free cosmetics. 

    3. Submission. Frame your concept in a way that is far from obvious. For example, tell us about your sunscreen, and how it should be used somewhere in the Far North. Many people still do not know that sun protection is a story not only about summer and heat. Surprise your audience, frame your product in a unique way.

    4. Intersection. What do your target audience and your product have in common? You care about the health of children, just like their parents—that is why you produce a series of stuffed toys that can be wiped with a damp cloth so that no dust particles accumulate on them. Relate your product to the humans that buy it. 

    5. Contradiction. The struggle of two conflicting opinions—all this storytelling power is at your fingertips. Think about the Twix’s ‘left & right twix’ Ad campaign. Or Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. 

    6. Opposites. These two don’t come into conflict and instead coexist peacefully together. Those with naturally straight hair want to curl it, and those with curly hair—straighten it. Your salon doesn’t care who they are—because they’ll do incredible styling for both. Use this to shed some light on your positioning strategy.

     

    You can apply Euler’s circles to: 

    • Check if the strategy is relevant to the project. 
    • Analyse competitors’ content. 
    • Develop TOV, corporate colours, branding and identity. 
    • Make sure that there are no points of friction or inconsistencies in the brief.

    HOW-NOW-WOW

    In this technique, you place ideas on an axis. It has four directions:

    Wow is the coolest option. The goal of the session is to arrive at a stage of development where the majority of your ideas are in this box.

    Edible coffee cups, chocolate bombs and sweet milk straws have all had a wow effect in coffee shops recently, and they are easy to implement. Think about what you have to offer? An innovative recipe for a cookie that doesn’t break in tea? 

    So, which of these techniques are the most suited to you and your team? Remember, there’s no universal brainstorming technique as there is no universal brain—so try out some methods that are as vibrant and entertaining as the people you work with.

    Don’t forget to check:

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    Jack Mackie about finding job during the pandemic, future of content creation and how to create trends

    Jack Mackie about finding job during the pandemic, future of content creation and how to create trends

    How to get into Content Creation profession from Film and Media and how Kickstart Scheme can help with that move. We spoke to NoFrames Content Creator Jack to know more about his career development from a freelancer to a pro and requested some tips for beginners in content creation.

    – Tell us how and why did you start Content Creation profession. Where did you study?

    I studied at the University of Stirling, an undergraduate degree in Film and Media. Focusing on Advertising and Content Development within university and in my freelancing experience creating visual content for Rangers TV and other clients. Content Creation is at the heart of what I have done and what I continue to do.

    – What else did you do before NoFrames? What important experience did you get?

    Before NoFrames, I have had many work experience opportunities: freelance video editing, camera operating and many runner/PA positions creating visual media and writing copy for various social channels. Working at NoFrames was the next step in focusing on that experience.

    – How did you find NoFrames? Why did you decide to choose this company among many others offering the same job?

    I initially applied to NoFrames through LinkedIn and the Kickstart Scheme. Graduating last year mid pandemic, it became difficult finding work within my field of expertise. The opportunity provided through NoFrames has given me the confidence and a positive outlook on my future within the industry. The team at NoFrames, especially Irina and Sophie have given me great encouragement and advice, and I am grateful to feel as accepted as I do within the team.

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    Graduating last year mid pandemic, it became difficult finding work within my field of expertise. The opportunity provided through NoFrames has given me the confidence and a positive outlook on my future within the industry.

    – What exactly do you do in the team as a Content Creator?

    As Content Creator, my job is to create visually interesting content and copy for NoFrames’ social channels and for their varied B2B and B2C clients that work with the company. Creating a unique sense of brand identity through these pieces of content is what I prioritize. Working with our Social Media Manager to take into account the distinct aspects of each client and frame their work in an approachable and engaging way!

    – What do you like most about that job?

    I love that I can apply my creativity and have the freedom to try new things. Working with clients in different fields also gives me a great understanding of how to manage and curate for brands in sectors I haven’t worked in before. It gives me a diversified pallet for future projects.

    – How do you see this profession developing in the future?

    With the nature of Digital Marketing, the trends that are popular now, may not be tomorrow. It is a fast and ever-evolving space. I see myself trying and testing new types of content over my time at NoFrames. Developing a deeper understanding on what consumers are looking for when searching online.

    – Give us some recommendations on how to become a great Content Creator, something like a checklist from Jack Mackie!

    My checklist for creating great content all stems from understanding your target audience and to think outside of the box.

    01

    Understanding composition

    Knowing how to layout and present your material is perhaps the most important part of being a Content Creator. The first impression a person looks at the posts you have created is everything. Make sure to brush up on your presentation skills and the tools you utilize to ensure you are bringing your all to whatever project you may be working on.

    02

    Putting in the time to research competition

    Understanding what others are doing in the same field is very helpful and a great way to discover what works for others and what may work for you.

    03

    Identifying current trends and creating content for future trends

    You shouldn’t only rely on others for great content. You must put in the time. Researching and experimenting can lead to advances in how you shape your own content and can help you identify what works and what may work well for your client in the near future. Always be on the pulse of emerging trends and new ways of innovating.

    Don’t forget to check:

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    NoFrames co-founder’s tips to help you work effectively with marketing agencies

    NoFrames co-founder’s tips to help you work effectively with marketing agencies

    In movies, working with agencies (as well as within them) looks like a dream; the client sets the brief and after a week or two you’re showing a crazy presentation, their sales skyrocket, everyone is happy, and you all drink champagne on yachts. In reality, managers don’t look like Hollywood stars and it’s not all smooth sailing.

    However, the power lies in the approach. We’ve collected some universal tips to make your work with contractors and agencies pleasant and productive, so that the mention of a manager won’t cause a nervous tic.

     

    01 

    Discuss Responsibility and Specific Requirements 

    Conflicts often arise due to the fact that, in the beginning, both parties fail to discuss who is who, what they do, what the tasks are, and what the parties expect from each other. For example, it would be a nasty surprise for the client if the agency didn’t provide the drafts, and the agency’s project manager might struggle without a proper introduction to the material.

    The main issues are dealt with in the contract. However, things such as the type of report, time and form of communication, specific tasks and wishes—it’s far better for them to be discussed and registered at the start. Has there already been a conflict with previous agencies? This can also be worth talking about.

    02 

    Set the Tone—Choose the Style of Working That Suits You Best

    Some prefer to give direction and rely entirely on creativity, while others need to control every step. It’s better to discuss which style is most natural to you before you start, so that the agency has time to adapt to you. If the work is also controlled by the international head office, then it’s crucial to immediately discuss its criteria, restrictions, norms, rules and terms.

    Remember that you are the face of the brand you represent. And it depends on you how the agency will treat the company. Therefore, be adequate and do not forget that you are communicating with the same people.

    03 

    Don’t Guess, Stay in Touch

    Most of the communication problems between a customer and the contractor arise when there’s a misunderstanding. Letters and messages do not convey emotions; someone can be enraged by an SMS with dots at the end, and someone else—the presence or absence of an emoji. The best way to avoid all of this is to meet or call regularly, so you can clearly indicate the frequency of reports and know when to expect results.

    Meetings are time-consuming for both parties, so prepare for them as much as possible. Write down all the issues you want to discuss in advance. Be honest with the agency and speak up right away if something is not pleasant or embarrassing. Even if you are talking about a manager who works with you, this will help stop problems from accumulating and reduce unjustified expectations to a minimum.

    04 

    Participate in Internal Meetings

    At first, it might seem like demons are being summoned right next to you: guidelines, brand books, creative approval, and so on and so forth. But, if you’ve been invited to brainstorm, don’t refuse. On the one hand, you will better understand what is generally going on in the minds of crazed digital people, and on the other, you will play the role of a consultant and give useful advice.

    No one knows the product and its audience better than you do, and this will help turn the work in the right direction. Now it’s possible to avoid a situation where someone has conveyed the wrong information, and avoid future misunderstandings. Save time and avoid unnecessary edits.

    05 

    Record All Agreements

    Did you phone and meet? Excellent! It’s best practise to confirm and record everything. Agree on the format in which everything will be recorded. The best option is to send and receive all the agreed information by email as this is the method of approval that is most often outlined in the contract.

    For convenience, discuss how you will label the subject lines and file names, and where you will communicate and store all the documents. Respond in specific threads on a specific topic, and do not interfere with all messages in one lump text—use replies.

    06 

    Work As a Team

    An agency is powered by people, it’s not a wishing well. They have experience and observation. Therefore, learn to listen to their opinion and argue your position. Constructive criticism is very good. If you don’t like an idea, tell them what you would like to improve or in which direction to direct the flow of thoughts. Imagine if you were told: “Everything is bad, redo it”—how would you do it? Both parties are interested in efficient and high-quality problem-solving. 

     

    You hired an agency because of their experience and skills. Therefore, if some idea does not seem very good to you, try to listen to their advice anyway.

    07 

    Speak the Same Language

    If you have a new idea, don’t rush to the phone and dump it on the agency manager with the phrase “Monica, we have a great idea, take a pen and write it down.”. Get together with your team and first rationalise the idea yourselves so that it sounds clear, understandable and logical to other people. If necessary, add pictures, videos and any other examples that will help. And try to avoid specific terminology and internal slang: the chances that you will be understood are close to zero.

     

    It is normal if the customer doesn’t know every advertising term and all the industry nuances. Therefore, to make it easier for you to understand the causal relationship of the agency’s proposals, you can arrange for an introductory lecture for your marketing team and a list of terms with human definitions.

    Here at NoFrames, we also have rules that have been developed with experience and can help clear up a number of issues for agencies. They will help you work in a more streamlined manner and effectively solve problems.

    1. Key decisions. The main enemy of productive work is miscommunication. To avoid misunderstandings, we determine at the beginning who will make the main decisions on behalf of the client. This person can transmit the wishes of the team and make edits. From our side, the project manager is appointed as responsible. 

    2. Working with edits. We prepare all the content in advance and put in corrections from one to three working days. We wait for feedback so we can better understand the brand and learn how to avoid too many edits in the future. Experience shows that in the first three edits, all issues can be resolved. If no comments are received within three working days, we consider that the work has been accepted. 

    3. Prioritise Introductory Information. We are for teamwork, so we ask our clients to provide all information on time, from logos to guidelines. 

    4. Resolving Issues. We discuss all questions in the corporate email chain. This is very convenient as the dialogue is available to everyone and the information is not lost. If the manager communicates with the customer by phone or in a messenger, then he writes down all the main points and sends them to the client by email. 

    5. Force majeure. We, like most office employees, work on weekdays from 09:00 to 18:00, but we understand that sometimes unplanned situations arise. If the issue really cannot be closed during business hours, the team tries to help the client as quickly as possible. However, this is an exception, not a rule. Our employees like to spend their free time with family, friends or outside the city—and we do not want to deprive them of this pleasure. 

     

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    How to write great copy

    How to write great copy

    There’s writing, then there’s copywriting. We’ve got a three point check list of what you need to remember when you’re writing copy—and you’d be crazy not to read it.

    When we find ourselves explaining the concept of copy-writing to the curious few that ask, we always end up making the same statement; “Copywriting is writing that sells.”

    In a more literal sense, any text that makes up marketing or promotional literature is a piece of copywriting, and you can bet it’s been disassembled and dissected time and time again by a dedicated copywriter.

    Copywriting is the art of taking a 3 word phrase and loading it with enough meaning to send stock flying off the shelves. It’s the art of connecting to swathes of the population at a time, in the tightest of character counts and without alienation. If that’s what copywriting is then there’s one thing it isn’t—and that’s easy. 

    We’ve put together the Three Golden Rules of Copy; so sit back, scroll down, and watch it get a little easier. 

    Keep it Real.

    This tip is all about letting your writing embody the approachable, conversational tone that copy often has to take. Sounding overly preachy can alienate your audience and leave them feeling as though you ‘know better’ than them. Although it’s easy to list the countless benefits of your services, that doesn’t mean the people reading it will believe you. Be mindful of the tone your copywriting takes—sarcasm carries risk.  

    Look at the copy you’ve written and say it aloud—it is awkward? Would someone really talk like that? Would they understand the words and phrases you’re using? If they wouldn’t, fix it. 

    Get Ruthless.

    An old english teacher of mine used to refer to pointless and wordy sections in essays as ‘waffle’. Waffle is the undeniable enemy of great copywriting. 

    Get ruthless when you edit. If a phrase can’t be justified, don’t use it. If the first word that springs to mind doesn’t click with your customer base, don’t use that either. The flow and shape of your sentences themselves are just as important too—if you overload your copy with long, unfamiliar words it’ll all get thrown out of whack. 

    Don’t let personal fondness for a particularly satisfying phrase overrule the requirement to keep copywriting simple and sharp; if you’re not writing for your customer, you’re not writing copy.

    Know your Customer.

    Before you start to write, get to know your customer. There’s a few techniques for this, such as building character diamonds and writing customer profiles. 

    The customer that you’re writing for should be at the heart of every decision you make. Picture them sitting across from you—would they connect to what you’re saying? Would they feel valued, and feel as though your expertise had value too? An old copywriting tip is to push the benefits of a service as opposed to the features. It’s about going beyond what something does and understanding how it makes us feel.

    There you have it. Three simple tips to help you understand the strategy that goes into writing copy. Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg. The morphing face of marketing and advertising throws up new challenges for copywriters every day, and in truth no amount of ‘tips’ will make you as good a copywriter as writing as much copy as you can will. 

    Although, there’s one piece of advice that cannot be ignored. 

    If you want to write great copy; you need to be reading it!

    Don’t forget to check:

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    Sophie Grosvenor about working in an international team, the Kickstart Scheme, and curating content

    Sophie Grosvenor about working in an international team, the Kickstart Scheme, and curating content

    Why flexibility is the key and why you need to be ready to make mistakes in order to find success. All that in our interview with Sophie about her journey from Edinburgh Napier to NoFrames Social Media Manager.

    – Where did you study? Why did you choose this profession?

    I studied at Edinburgh Napier, and my degree was in Digital Media and Interaction Design. I also studied Audio/Visual Media at the Hochschule Der Medien—which is Stuttgarts media school. I had been lucky enough to spend some work experience time at both Kerrang magazine and Equator, a digital marketing agency based in Glasgow. 

    – How did you come to NoFrames? Was it a vacancy?

    I applied to NoFrames through the Kickstart Scheme. After graduating in 2020, like a lot of recent graduates I found myself at a loss for opportunities and really quite dejected. It was difficult to picture a positive future. Since my time at NoFrames, I’ve felt incredibly supported by Irina and Ana and I feel my confidence growing every day.

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    I applied to NoFrames through the Kickstart Scheme. After graduating in 2020, like a lot of recent graduates I found myself at a loss for opportunities and really quite dejected.

    – NoFrames was your first job placement after university. Tell us why you chose this company and what exactly do you do during your working days?

    Before NoFrames I worked throughout university in the hospitality industry, while pursuing my own projects—such as co-directing a multimedia play at Stuttgart’s TheaterHaus. I chose the role at NoFrames for two stand out reasons. Firstly, I was completely in love with the idea of working in a small company, where my impact and work would really mean something. Secondly, both Ana and Irina handled my application with the utmost professionalism and speed. It was very clear to me after speaking to them that they were two ambitious and driven people that I would love to work for.

    – Social Media Management is now your main job. Could you tell us what SMM professionals do? How is this job different from a Content Creator position?

    Social Media Management has got to be one of the biggest buzzword job titles in 2021—and yet no-one seems to know exactly what we do. In truth, to be a Social Media Manager you need a bit of everything. I spend time creating content, curating content, planning & strategizing content—as well as liaising with clients and setting briefs for content creators. I analyse data for our clients and set goals and metrics for their marketing campaigns.

    – How do you understand that you are leading the client’s brand and content creators in the right direction? What will be the marker for you that you are doing everything right?

    With everything we do, we have to check the data, if we’re hitting the targets we set, then we know if we’re onto a good course. I also believe that the owners and CEO’s of the brands we work with have to know that their company is in good hands—it’s important to make them feel both represented and appreciated. Finally, I’ve found flexibility to be the key. In order to find success, you need to be ready to make mistakes and learn from them.

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    Finally, I’ve found flexibility to be the key. In order to find success, you need to be ready to make mistakes and learn from them.

    – A few months ago you wrote yourself a career plan. How is it going?

    My ultimate goal in terms of my career plan, was to gain both confidence and experience. I know that without a doubt, I’ve gained both! I really believe that the work I’m doing at NoFrames will be beneficial to me for the rest of my career. I feel like I’m getting all the building blocks I need to build a strong foundation of skills, and to reach my long term goals.

    – You are constantly learning and the concept of lifelong learning is close to you. What is important for you in the long term?

    Looking further into the future, I know it’s a dream of mine to travel and to live and work abroad. After my time in Germany, I knew that working in an international team was the best way for me to release my creativity and feel less restricted. When I look back at my career, I want it to be filled with work and relationships I’m proud of.

    – Let’s remember Sophie five years ago. Why would you praise her and what would you scold her for?

    I’d praise her for getting into university, and I wouldn’t scold her whatsoever. She was doing exactly what she wanted and I’m in a great place now, so she did a pretty sound job.

    What advice would you give this Sophie?

    I’d tell her to enjoy things and to know there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it.

    What would you advise to read to those who want to learn more about SMM?

    Honestly, I’ve found all of Hubspot‘s resources to be really useful. I also believe that without  great copy, you don’t have anything at all—so read ‘Ogilvy On Advertising’.

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