I recently witnessed someone do something completely outside the box on her website, and it kind of knocked my socks off.
Last week I was chatting with a friend over coffee and the topic turned to marketing … specifically, website pop-ups. We both agreed that even though they sometimes deliver results, popups on websites are incredibly annoying.
“But you know,” my friend said. “I actually saw a popup the other day that was completely refreshing – totally different from any I’d ever seen.”
Now whenever I hear the words “totally different” during a conversation about websites, my ears perk up BIG TIME. I asked her for the friend’s website address, and later that evening upon returning home, promptly went to my computer and typed it in.
“Huh,” I said aloud. “That IS different.”
So what was so different about it? Well, think about what typical website popups say. Most of the time, they begin with some sort of catchy headline like “Leaving so soon?” followed by a plug to try and get you to enter your name and email address in exchange for free access to a course, PDF download, or some other freebie they claim is positively packed with value.
This woman’s popup? It did NONE of those things. Instead, it was a simple hello from the website owner herself, expressing her gratitude for my stopping by (check out JessicaKilbourn.com to experience her outside-the-box popup firsthand).
And while I LOVE this idea and will definitely keep it in mind as I continue to collaborate with my clients in creating websites that represent them authentically – what feels more at the heart of the matter here is the importance and power of outside-the-box thinking in general.
After all, when we think about the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, almost all of them were experts at creative thinking. Steve Jobs had the crazy notion that every person could own a personal computer. In the 1970s Richard Branson (creator of The Virgin Group) started a mail-order record business, unheard of at that time. Oprah Winfrey, after being demoted from a news anchor position for being too emotionally affected by stories, started a talk show where she connected with guests emotionally instead.
We’ve seen again and again that outside-the-box thinking leads to innovation, creativity, and the potential for new and improved ways of doing things and seeing the world.
So how do we do it? Below are three methods to get you started.
Method #1: Come up with the obvious solutions – then eliminate them.
You’ll find that once you take the most obvious choices off the table and force yourself to continue brainstorming, that’s when some really wacky, creative, and just maybe brilliant ideas will pop up. For example, if you’re planning a fundraiser and you take a gala dinner off the table (pun intended), what else might you come up with?
Method #2: Shoot for quantity over quality.
Quality is a great thing. But sometimes you need to shoot for quantity in order to get there. Can you challenge yourself to come up with fifty or even a hundred ideas during a brainstorming session? It’s often only once you get into those highest numbers when you’ll think of the idea that sticks.
Method #3: Seek advice from people who know nothing.
When you seek advice from someone who is an expert on the subject matter at hand, you’ll certainly get a good, reliable response. But will it be outside the box? Not likely. But what if you ask someone who knows nothing about the subject? What if you even turned to children who, after all, aren’t yet boxed into the conventions of the world? Now that’s a creative approach.
Thinking back to experiences in my life when I encountered true outside-the-box thinking, I recall:
- A science teacher of mine in middle school who put speared tennis balls on the feet of all his classroom chairs, making for an infinitely quieter classroom.
- A vision board process that started with journaling on one’s goals and aspirations with a non-dominant hand.
- Learning about something called an “air fryer” which broke the longtime convention that frying requires a lot of oil. Who knew?!
Never forget that outside-the-box thinking is a muscle like anything else, and it can only be strengthened by using it. So the next time you’re on a search for a great idea, give one of the three above methods a try. I bet you’ll be surprised with what you arrive at as a result.