Lateral thinking refers to solving problems by a creative approach, typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light.
The digital space is filled with ads, organic promotions and brand owners pushing the same offers over and over again.
Do you remember the last time an ad stuck with you for an entire day? An ad that was so amazing you couldn’t stop thinking about it?
I do. It was a long time ago and it only happens once a year, maybe.
Maybe it’s a flaw of mine. Constantly being present in the digital space and dealing with digital marketing, I am used to dissecting each piece of an ad I am seeing online, and asking myself the same questions over and over again.
What’s the difference between that blue t-shirt from “Company X” and the other blue t-shirt from “Company Y”? It might be that one of them donates part of their profits to a charity. Maybe the blue shirt from Company X has a rather different tint of blue. What stops you, the customer, from heading to the closest boutique shop and spending 5 bucks on another blue t-shirt? Absolutely nothing.
That’s where lateral thinking comes into play – and it’s something that so few brand owners take into consideration.
Lateral thinking in marketing refers to approaching problems, issues and solutions from an entirely different and unique perspective than your competitors. It doesn’t mean that you create a t-shirt with a different blue tint, but rather that you promote that t-shirt using different words, different stories and evoke different emotions.
In digital marketing, it is important to use lateral thinking by:
- Challenging assumptions about a situation. My customers want to buy a t-shirt just to wear it every day, right? Wrong. They need a much bigger reason to do so, or else they’d head over to their local boutique. My customers adore my t-shirt because my ads show 25-year old girls wearing it while going to the beach and that t-shirt just looks beautiful under the sun rays, blending with the sea.
- Asking basic questions and approaching the answers in a different way. My t-shirt is just like any other t-shirt, why do I need to impose a different view to my audience? Because you are not targeting the entire population, even if it seems like that. When you are not as established as the big brands, the success lies in targeting a specific kind of person, that is more likely to buy your product.
Now, what are some lateral thinking techniques you can explore?
Edward de Bono, one of the greatest creative thinkers of our time, explored the idea of lateral thinking and created one of the most efficient methods of coming up with new ideas. He created a product, which he called his “Think Tank”. It helped and encouraged people to think more laterally.
It was as basic as an eight-inch sphere on a platform. Through a little window, you could see 14,000 words printed on plastic pieces. The idea was to shake the “Think Tank” and mention the first three words you would see.
Let’s say the words were ocean, parrot and green light. Let us say that I wanted to sell my brand new blue t-shirt. The idea was to come up with a fresh perspective towards marketing my new product by using these three words. This process would cause me to put my brain to work and try to market it from a different angle.
It’s just like shower thoughts. Now my t-shirt did not appeal to the entire population, but rather to a specific audience. One that loves the color of the ocean, adores tropical destinations and feels absolutely amazing in their blue t-shirt that has a unique tint even if you’re in a room full of green led lights.