Most Ideas Are Already Out There
Do you have an Idea File? Sometimes it’s called a Swipe File.
In my file cabinet I have a thick folder, appropriately labeled “Ideas,” that I started when I was a wee worker at a large insurance company.
Looking through that folder is like a trip back in time. There’s a handwritten note from my then-boss on an article from Insurance Conference Planner magazine that says, “Joe – I thought this was interesting. Jan.” The title of the article is “Where Did You Get That Idea?”
Appropriately, it recommends keeping an idea file.
Some things remain constant. The next photocopied magazine article in the file, “You Can Sell Everything By Mail,” discusses the 40-40-20 rule. As you know, a successful mail campaign is 40% offer, 40% list, and 20% everything else.
Even though I worked in insurance at the time, there’s an envelope package in the folder from no-longer-existent Norwest Banks. The teaser on the back says, “What Norwest Bank Has Packaged For You Is Simply Unbelievable.” It promotes the Norwest Advantage Account (that’s “more than a checking account.”)
It’s no lean, mean envelope package. The outer envelope unfolds, has a die-cut slot for the flap, and is printed on stiff lavender card stock. Inside are a letter and a few enamel paper stock flyers.
Of course, I have other folders and file envelopes filled with more current articles, notes, and samples. I simply pulled out the oldest one when I decided to write this post.
Do you have a file showing what your competition has done? Saved any articles about marketing and good direct mail practices like that 40-40-20-rule piece? If not, reach into your drawer and pull out a heavy file folder or large manila envelope. Label it “Idea File.”
Now, start to fill it.