How to train your brain to come up with marketing ideas

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This morning, I saw an article with this headline: “Arby’s will offer a vegetarian menu for 1 day only this leap year”. I’m not a vegetarian, and I don’t eat at Arby’s, but the story caught my eye because it is an unusual and creative marketing promotion.

The promotion allows Arby’s to remind the public of their meat-centric menu by extending an olive branch to those who don’t eat meat, and thus, don’t usually visit Arby’s. It uses leap year to underscore that this is a one day special promotion.

(In case you’re wondering, the vegetarian sandwiches are simply regular sandwiches without the meat, sold at the same price.)

So Arby’s gets publicity and, I’m sure, more traffic to their stores. I’m betting that most of that traffic won’t be vegetarians, and that’s probably the point. However this plays out for the company, we have to agree that this promotion is well-played.

Okay, why am I telling you this?

I pay attention to stories about unusual promotions (and regular ones, too) to see if I can find ideas I can share with you or use in my own marketing. When I saw this story, I thought, “How could a lawyer do a “one day” promotion or an “opposite” promotion?

I came up with. . . nothing.

Okay, I suppose a divorce lawyer who represents “men only” could, for one day, accept women clients. An estate planning firm that represents wealthy clients could, for a week or a month, open their doors to “anyone”.

The point isn’t necessarily whether or not you can come up with a suitable promotion for your practice, it is that by thinking about how you might do that, you will stimulate (and train) your brain to be on the lookout for marketing ideas.

The next time you see a business running a promotion, it might cause you to think of a way you could use that idea, or one like it. You will become more observant about how businesses and professionals market their products and services, with or without promotions, and thus become more creative in marketing yours.

It’s the difference between seeing the Arby’s story and saying, “that’s clever” (and perhaps, “I’m hungry”) and asking, “How can I use an idea like that?”

Train yourself to ask “how could I use this idea?” because you won’t get answers to questions you never ask.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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