All posts in idea generation


Yes, the notion of tricking search engines via keyword stacking and other tricks
is over.

Now Google has changed its search algorithms, you must now be genuinely engaging your audience to ensure a good ranking.

In the digital advertising hinterland, there is an eternal struggle between the storytellers and the inventors, the content makers and the platform builders. It seems the storytellers and makers might have won – thank God.

This, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any specific courses on writing for digital and social media because it changes so quickly, has sparked this short course/workshop I’m conducting for AWARD.

It’s a field guide on how to formulate engaging ideas in digital and social media – and techniques and strategies you can use to make emerging technology and platforms relevant to your work.

It’s also going to be fun. I love this area, and am as obsessed by unpacking and teaching it as I am about working in it.

Please join us Friday week, there are still a couple of places left.


Creative on demand: A Workshop for World Vision.

Yes, that is me impersonating a wildebeest to get my point across during a Creative Workshop I ran for the very nice folks of World Vision Australia.

 In this particular slide, I’m pointing out the particular peculiarity of the creative process which is being ok with not having the answer for as long as possible. This goes against our natural instinct which is to make decisions instantly, so as a result we get flustered and frustrated. But the reality is you need to learn to be ok with dwelling in this vague space long enough for the truly original thoughts to arrive. When you don’t this, all you come up with are “first thoughts” – obvious ways to solve the problem.

The workshop itself is something I’ve been working on for a couple of years now. It’s a mix of myth debunking, me exposing how I go about coming up with ideas,  and field tested techniques that can help people make the most of their scarce thinking time.

It was a great afternoon with some really nice and talented folks doing very vital and worthy work.

Suffice to say, some great ideas came out of the sessions too.

Thank you to Pet and Andrew for inviting me along.



What is stopping you from coming up with better ideas?

I just read this article in Fast Company.

How do you get past “the everything’s been done trap and generate new ideas”.

In it, many creatives and entrepreneurs share their techniques on how to get to original thoughts.

Most share my hunch – you need a means to keep you moving.

Here are my five steps for generating better ideas.

1. Get the question right.

Before you consider the possibilities, you need to knuckle down and articulate the problem you are trying to solve in a single sentence. A problem well stated is a problem half solved.

2. Stop yourself from trying to solve things right away.

Years of rote education has drilled the question answer response into all of us.

You need to suppress that part of you that wants recognition and reward, and consider all the ways into the problem. Fill a page full of little boxes and try and put a thought in every box. Not an idea, but a thought, anything and everything that might solve the problem. Your goal is to fill the page, not answer the question.

3. Things are going to get weird and that is perfectly normal.

We are not wired to consider possibilities when confronted with a problem, we are wired to jump out of harms way, that’s why the creative process makes you feel flustered, and like you aren’t getting anywhere. Understanding this helps you push through it and just keep going, it’s only after things stop making sense that the really interesting thoughts arrive.

4. Go do something else.

After you’ve a had a burst for an hour or two, go do an expense report, your time sheets, something that requires your full concentration. While you are applying conscious thought to this task, your subconscious will be sifting through all knowledge you’ve offloaded about the problem.

5. Keep a pen and paper handy.

Once your subconscious has done its job,  the answers will come to you thick and fast. Usually, if we are not having any luck on a solution, I’ll just go at it for an hour or so at night, sleep on it, and an idea will come to me while I’m on my way into work the next morning. We all do this without realising we do it, it’s why your best ideas often happen in the shower.



Is there a formula to being funny?

This article talks about how incongruity ( a fancy word for being absurd) seems to be bang on formula to get laughs in the world if improv theatre. Especially if your absurd addition to a scene points out an undelying unspoken truth.

But here’s another theme I’ve noticed in things that I find particularly funny.

Firstly, here is the funniest dirty joke in the world delivered in tandem by Drew Carey and Robin Williams. WARNING NSFW!

Because we all understand stories, jokes and how narratives flow, on hearing them we are naturally trying to predict the ending and ‘see the punchline coming’.  If you can lead the audience in one direction, then snap them back with a punchline from an unexpected place, the size of that tension is going to increase how funny the joke is.

If I was a complete nerd, I could explain it in simple graph like this.

Now if you look at the Man You Man Could Smell Like ad…

This is arguably one of the funniest ads in recent times, you’ll notice it does exactly the same thing. It takes what we think we know about ads with aspirational spokespeople and twists the cliche tremendously. And the best gag is saved for the end, instead of the product ID and the tagline, you are hit with the incongruity of “I’m on a horse”.




How to come up with digital ideas. approaches + techniques.

How to come up with digital ideas.

View more presentations from Ben Keenan.
Here is the talk I did last night for Melbourne Award School on how to come up with digital solutions – and not ads to solve marketing problems.Thanks again to David De Ponce de Leon for having me along.
This is a part of a talk/workshop that I do which is constantly evolving. Any/all feedback welcome.