Alan Rosenspan's "Improve Your Response
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Happy New Year. I hope the coming year brings you continued success, good health, peace and prosperity.
And I hope you beat your control - whatever you conceive that to be. (When's the last time you read that on a holiday card?)
The last two months have been remarkably busy and productive ones. We did speeches and seminars in Ireland, Montreal, Chicago (twice), Orlando, and New York. And we're completing direct marketing programs for several new clients, including Anchorsilk, the Boston Celtics, The Reader's Digest and Sybase.
This issue of the Newsletter is going to focus on Creativity.
Let me start by asking you a question...
Too many people answer, "No - I'm the most uncreative person in the world." The truth is that everyone is a creative person. But it's not your fault, you were born that way.
Picasso said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist after you grow up."
Sometimes people confuse creativity with a specific skill - like writing or drawing. But those are just techniques that can be learned. Creativity is the process of solving problems; of seeing things in a new way; of coming up with ideas; and of connecting things.
Let me prove to you that you're creative:
Have you ever solved a problem in your business?
Have you ever come up with a new or better way of doing something?
Have you ever come up with an excuse?
Have you ever written a resume?
The answer is that you are creative - but you may not have as many opportunities to be creative as you could have. I'll talk about that in a moment, but first let me share some things from my Creativity Seminar. I'll start with a quick story...
" So I'm in my office on a Monday morning, the telephone rings and the following conversation takes place.
"Hello, this is Chris Fitzgerald at the Wall Street Journal, and..."
"Sorry, I'm not interested..."
"Please don't ever call me again!" (It sounds harsh, but this is the only way to make sure that the telemarketer will put you on the "Do Not Call" list.)
"Wait! WE WANT TO HIRE YOU!"
Well, maybe it didn't happen exactly that way, but I was called by the Wall Street Journal and ended up doing a Creativity Seminar for their sales and marketing teams in December.
The three-hour seminar was designed to help them tap into their creativity to solve problems, improve sales, and serve as the kick-off to two days of meetings. It taught them how to brainstorm more effectively, and learn how to use their creativity to accomplish their goals.
The results were terrific. Evaluations included, "Wonderful presentation. I wanted to keep it going." " People were motivated and walked out of the meeting feeling better about themselves and their job" "I learned a lot about how to improve my creativity."
During the breaks, I handed out a creativity "test" that was originally
published in Games magazine, called The Equation Analysis Test. People
had a great deal of fun with it, and I'd like to share a few of them with
Each equation contains the initials of words that make it correct. For example, the first one is 26 = L of the A.
As you've probably guessed, 26 = Letters of the Alphabet. But they get harder. In fact, I'll offer a prize to the first person who gets all the answers and e-mails them back to me at Arosenspan@aol.com.
They are reprinted below:
The seminar went so well - we've decided to begin marketing it more in 2001. So if you are aware of any company who might be interested, I would be grateful if you could let me know.
And of course, we're also scheduling seminars on "How to Improve Your Direct Mail in One Day." that have been so successful. We've done them for Kessler Financial Services, Household Credit, Moore Response Marketing and Sybase in the last two months.
My Creativity Seminar also focuses on brainstorming - often used, and also very often mis-used.
Does your company do brainstorming? Do you know the mistakes to avoid, and how to ensure success?
I just wrote an article called, "The Perfect Brainstorm" that includes some of the lessons I've learned in leading and attending hundreds of brainstorms over the years.
Here are some things to remember:
1. Invite the right people. You may have assembled a bright and creative group of people - but they may have little experience with the actual problem or issue to be solved. This often results in "pie in the sky" ideas that can never realistically be implemented.
When I conduct brainstorms about advertising or direct marketing issues, I always try to include people who actually speak to prospects or customers, such as telemarketers and salespeople.
2. Feed 'em and reap. The presence of Snicker's bars or bags of M&M's serve a number of important purposes. They stimulate people; they improve the energy of the group; plus they make sure that people will always be eager to attend your brainstorms - particularly in the afternoon.
3. Don't invite the boss. Brainstorms work best when every attendee is about the same level. If you have to worry about what your boss is going to think about the next thing you suggest - you might not be so quick to venture that far-out idea.
4. Clearly define the problem. Brainstorms are most effective when they are trying to solve a specific problem - not just to "come up with an idea." The problem should be written out and prominently displayed before anyone starts their thinking.
5. Pave paradise (Put up a parking lot). Every brainstorm creates ancillary ideas that may not be relevant to the problem at hand. But they may be the best ideas.
Don't ignore them. Capture them on Post-it notes and put them in a "Parking Lot" on the other side of the room.
6. Don't evaluate the ideas at the same meeting. Your creativity hat is a lot different from your critical thinking hat. Of course, you'll need to prioritize the ideas, and winnow out the weaker ones, but don't do it at the brainstorm. It's sure to slow the flow.
7. Manage group dynamics. There's no faster way to kill the creativity of a group of people than by having one person dominate the brainstorm. You need to make sure everyone feels comfortable contributing.
That's why many companies use an outside resource - a person who doesn't work for the company - to lead the brainstorm.
8. Share information. Not everyone attending the brainstorm has the same facts or background. I've found that an excellent way to begin a brainstorm is to have every member give a brief overview of what they know that's relevant to the problem at hand.
9. Follow-up is essential. Some of the best ideas come up after the brainstorm. You need to share the notes as soon as possible, while they're fresh in people's minds, and then have a process for them to keep thinking.
Schedule a follow-up meeting with a smaller group of people who attended the original brainstorm. So they can evaluate ideas, build on them, and decide next steps. This can often be even more productive than the original brainstorm. If you'd like to see the entire article, just let me know and I'll he happy to send it to you.
I was at Brandeis University recently, and I ate at the student cafeteria. They do something terrific (but not with the food) that I want to start using for some of my clients.
Like many places, they have a form you can fill out that says, "How do we rate?" It has a couple of questions about the food and service, and also an area for comments. Sounds pretty typical. But Brandeis does something more innovative.
The manager of the cafeteria actually responds to every question and comment, and then posts them on a bulletin board right in front of the cafeteria line.
So when a student complains, "How come you stopped serving fried eggs in the morning?" the manager writes in, "You were using them as Frisbees, and we got tired of cleaning them off the ceilings. But we'll try it again"
Again, many companies ask their customers and prospects, "How do we rate?" But how many provide feedback that shows they actually listen and respond? This may be an idea you can use in your company.
As you may know, I have a number of articles on Creativity that are posted on my website at www.alanrosenspan.com. If you haven't seen them, I'd like to invite you to read them. You can also print them out and share them with colleagues. They include:
"Creativity for the Rest of Us"
"How to be Insanely Creative"
And a new one, not yet posted, called "Letter to a New Copywriter" which I'll be happy to send you.
Our articles now appear in 7 different countries, and we've just started negotiating with several Eastern European marketing magazines to allow them to reprint them as well.
Do you want to improve your website? David Schiffer of DLS Design - an award-winning designer who did my website - just came up with "10 Ways to Improve Your Website." Very good information, and it's available through his website at www.dlsdesign.com .
Moore Response Marketing is one of the largest and most sophisticated direct marketing companies in the country. They specialize in in-line production, where the entire piece - letter, envelope, brochure - is printed at the same time, and allows for terrific personalization.
I did a seminar for them out in Chicago, and they shared an interesting fact. Their research shows that -- the larger the direct mail package, the higher the response. In fact, they know exactly how much more response they'll gain from each incremental inch.
Now there are exceptions, and you may not always be able to afford a larger format, but you might want to take that into consideration in your next direct mail program.
...has nothing to do with writing, drawing, music or even brainstorming,
It's just this - you can decide to be more creative.
You can decide to let your mind roam, and explore different ideas, and take chances and make connections and not worry about what anyone else thinks of you.
And when you make that decision, you'll not only come up with more ideas - but you'll have more fun and be more successful than ever.
Go for it !
LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK
Thank you all for the feedback on our first issue. Please feel free to forward me your comments and suggestions on the newsletter or any of the topics I've touched on here.
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