January 27, 2024

Idea generation techniques to help you uncover your next big thing

If you've been reading my content for a while, you know my passion for helping digital business owners turn their experience, expertise, and existing services into digital products. However, almost every week, like clockwork, I still hear from people who 100% totally understand the value of transforming ideas and services into products—but just can't seem to get over the idea generation hump.

In today's article, I'll share some practical tools, methods, and techniques to help you refine your concepts (especially those involving your existing services) and turn them into market-ready digital products. Let's go!

Key takeaways:

  • Utilize SCAMPER and other creative techniques to generate and refine ideas for digital products.
  • Adapt existing services into digital products by understanding their unique value and incorporating customer feedback.
  • Focus on validating ideas and iterative development to evolve concepts into successful digital products.

Techniques for creative idea generation

When exploring various techniques for creative idea generation, I find it's essential to balance creativity with structure. Enter one of my favorite creativity methods: SCAMPER.

SCAMPER is a mnemonic that stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, and Reverse. The technique facilitates a systemic approach to innovation, ensuring that brainstorming is both directed and productive.

Here's how I like to break it down when brainstorming a new product creatively. Let's look at this from the perspective of a design agency owner and how they might use SCAMPER to find new digital product ideas:

(S)ubstitute: This stage is about replacing parts of your service with alternatives.

Example: Switch from custom design services to offering a library of customizable website templates, widening your audience and scaling your business model.

(C)ombine: Combine involves merging different elements to create a unique offering.

Example: Integrate web design with UX design principles to develop a digital toolkit, including templates, UX checklists, and interactive design elements for a diverse range of designers.

(A)dapt: Adaptation is about modifying your service to fit different needs or markets.

Example: Transform custom design services into a modular approach, allowing clients to use customizable elements to build unique websites, catering to a broader audience.

(M)odify: This stage focuses on changing the scale or format of your service.

Example: Shift from offering complete web design services to conducting web design audits and consultations, a more scalable and efficient service model.

(P)ut to another use: Here, the goal is to repurpose your service in an unconventional way.

Example: Use your web design skills to create educational content, such as online courses or webinars, transitioning from a service-based model to an educational product model.

(E)liminate: Elimination is about removing parts of your service to simplify it.

Example: Offer products with limited customization options at a lower price, simplifying your service to reach a wider audience.

(R)everse: The reverse stage is about flipping your approach or perspective.

Example: Develop a platform for critiquing and improving existing websites, shifting from creating designs to providing professional reviews and optimization tools, leveraging design expertise in a subscription-based model.

From concept to viability: The art of idea validation and creating an MVP

Ok—so far, we've used the SCAMPER technique to help define and give a fresh look to our digital product ideas. Now, let's take our raw and untested ideas and do our best to mold them into market-ready offerings. This is usually a multi-stage process that involves defining the problem, validating the idea, and developing a Minimum Viable Product.

Defining the problem: Identifying the market gap

Firstly, I ask myself: "What specific gap in the market am I aiming to fill?" This foundational question guides the entire idea validation and development process, ensuring the product addresses a tangible need.

Validating the idea: Engaging and learning

This step is all about gauging your concept's potential. Look at market trends and research, ensuring the idea's relevance and demand. A tactic that can be super effective at this stage is engaging potential customers or clients on social media for feedback. These conversations can be gold mines of insight, revealing the wants and needs of potential future users.

Creating a Minimum Viable Product: Feedback and iteration

Now that you have a sense of the product you're building and have some validated learnings, it's time to take the next step—creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This step is about creating a stripped-down version of the product that still delivers key features to solve the primary problem. At this stage, the aim should not be just to "launch a product" but to initiate a cycle of feedback and iteration. Each round of user feedback informs the next stage of evolution, making the product more tangible and ideally suited to the market's needs.

Evolving your digital product strategy over time

Having laid the groundwork with the SCAMPER technique and established a foundation through idea validation and MVP creation, it's time to focus on the evolution of your digital product strategy. This continuous process is crucial for staying relevant and competitive in the digital market.

Here are four things you can do once your product starts to gain traction:

1. Stay informed: The digital landscape is constantly changing. Regularly update your knowledge about emerging technologies, design trends, and customer preferences. This ongoing learning can inspire modifications and improvements to your digital products.

2. Feedback loops: Establish robust channels for customer feedback. Whether through social media, direct customer interviews (one of my favorites), or data analytics, understanding how your customers use and perceive your product is invaluable. Use this feedback to iterate and refine your product continuously.

3. Expand your offerings: As your digital product gains traction, consider ways to expand its features or create complementary products. This could mean adding advanced functionalities to an existing app or developing new products that align with your existing portfolio.

4. Diversify revenue streams: More and more, I think this is the key to digital product success. Once you see product market fit, explore other monetization strategies. This might involve introducing subscription models, offering premium features, or leveraging affiliate marketing. Diversification can help stabilize revenue and reduce dependency on a single income source—which is huge for digital business owners.

Wrapping up

Let's circle back to a few key takeaways as we wrap up this exercise on creative idea generation. The SCAMPER technique and other creative methods I mentioned above have helped me transform my existing services into market-ready digital products.

A final note: The gift and curse of this system is that it's constantly evolving. Stay informed, get feedback, expand your offerings, and diversify revenue streams as much as possible while your product gains traction.