“Think outside the box.”


Is there a more cliche, over-used phrase in the business world? It becomes increasingly more agitating when you hear those words after spending hours on a project that you’ve become quite proud of.

“It’s great, but not quite what I was thinking.”


Odds are about ten to one that if you were to ask what that means, you’d get, “I can’t really describe it.”

So, assuming that more clarification is not on its way, how does one address this issue?

Communication is key. Again, another cliche and over-used phrase, but it is absolutely true. If the project manager or client can’t adequately express their expectations, it is up to you to ask the correct questions to gain a better understanding.


Some key questions to ask may include:

  • Are there parts of this campaign that do coincide with your expectations, or should I start over?
  • Does your idea for this project stem from an example? Did you see a competitor do something similar?
  • Who is your target audience and what action do you expect them to take upon seeing this project?
  • Is there a secondary message that I should attempt to portray?
  • How will you measure the success of this project?

Once your questions have been answered, utilize any and every tool at your disposal to gain inspiration. Several companies have strict parameters for their marketing and communications pieces. This makes it even harder to “think outside the box” when you’re literally boxed in by corporate standards.


Three tips for inspirational sources:

  1. Pinterest.
    Yes, Pinterest! It’s not just for recipes and home decor. Businesses are utilizing Pinterest more and more every day to advertise their own products and services, which in turn provides you with inspiration on layouts, designs, graphs, verbiage, and even entire marketing strategies. Users will also find links to tutorials and white papers which can prove to be invaluable.
  2. Research your competition.
    How will this help you think outside the box? When you see what the competition is doing, think about how you would do it better. Don’t copy their campaigns. Just use their campaigns as idea starters for your own brainstorming session.
  3. Ask for help.
    You and your coworkers are on the same team. They want the company to succeed just as much as you do. Call together a quick brainstorming session among your team mates. Sometimes it just takes a fresh set of eyes to look at what you’ve created and make some adjustments to better fit the client’s needs.


There’s no doubt every person in marketing will hear the dreaded phrase, “Think outside of the box.” However, being prepared with productive questions and resources for inspiration will help you get past the issue and deliver fantastic and unique results.



Renee Schneider
Trio Marketing
p. 515.259.0577
c. 316.644.7029
e. renee@trioagency.com

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A little more about us:
TRIO is a full-service marketing communications company providing a wide array of integrated marketing services to meet all of your business and marketing needs.  At TRIO, we understand that each client is unique; therefore we provide customized solutions based on your goals and growth objectives. All of our recommendations are made specifically for you and your business. TRIO Marketing, Branding and Advertising delivers an effective blend of creative talent and strategic thinking, delivering results that increase the bottom line of our client partners. We utilize our network of local experts in the community to execute the campaigns on the basis of design, printing and mailing.

Our Services include:

  • Marketing, Branding, Public Relations and Advertising Consulting
  • Strategic Annual Marketing Plan Development
  • Integrated and Interactive Marketing Services including E-mail and SMS Marketing
  • Promotional Products
  • Media Negotiation, Placement & Spot Traffic Management Print Design & Production
  • Web Development & Search Engine Optimization
  • Direct Mail Services
  • One-on-One Sales Team Development

At TRIO, we work hard to combine marketing talent and technology with outstanding customer service to build long-term partnerships with you and your business. Our strategies are delivered on time and in a cost-effective manner to achieve maximum response and grow your business.

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