The #1 Key to Generating Profitable Ideas (alt. title: What's with the Couch?)


Boy, do we feel the pain! Generating new ideas is intimidating enough, let alone trying to ensure that the ideas you come up with will appeal to your ideal customers + inspire them to take action. After all, it’s not a business if it’s not putting food on the table.  

Wondering where you even begin? How to start? Where to find inspiration? You’re not alone... there are an overwhelming amount of businesses out there asking the same questions about idea generation.

What products + services should our business offer? What stories should our marketing + communications tell? What content should we create? Or even, what should we blog about?

Today, we want to relieve your fears + inspire confidence by sharing the #1 thing that we do to ensure that our ideas will resonate with our ideal customers + inspire them to take action (and put food on our tables). This idea is so simple that it may appear obvious on the surface but hear us out. It may be a little deeper than you expect.

The #1 Key To Generating Profitable Ideas: LISTENING. (Like, REALLY listening).

We’re not talking about superficial listening. We’re not talking about listening to speak next. We’re not even talking about listening to what’s said out loud.  We are talking about listening to what’s underneath. Listening to curiosities, questions, fears and dreams. Listening to what’s being said (or asked) and then having the courage to go deeper. To understand WHY what’s being said is being said. After-all if you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that WHY drives everything we do.

Inspired by WHY

Once you really understand what is making your ideal client tick… those curiosities, questions, fears and dreams, then it’s time to start talking about them and using them as inspiration for your ideas. Take this post as an example; not once has anyone asked me how I generate ideas. Never. Here are the questions + comments that I have heard, though:

How did you come up with the idea about the couch in your branding?

Wow! You and Cearagh really do a great job of highlighting your differences.

Thanks for writing that blog post. It really helped me understand topic XYZ.

I don’t have time to write thoughtful captions or blog posts online.

How do you come up with blog topics?

While none of the comments and questions above specifically ask me how to generate ideas, I can identify a pattern by answering each question/statement.

What’s with the couch in your branding?

What are they really asking here? How we came up with an idea (the couch).

Wow! You and Cearagh really do a great job of highlighting your differences.

What are they really saying here? They like our idea (of highlighting our differences).

Thanks for writing that blog post. It really helped me understand Facebook Ads.

What are they really saying here? They like our idea (of describing Facebook Ads)

I don’t have time to write thoughtful captions or blog posts online.

What are they really saying here? They’re struggling to come up with ideas quickly.

How do you come up with blog topics?

What are they really saying here? They don’t know how how to consistently generate ideas.


See a pattern yet?

As  businesses, we win when we can truly understand our client and answer the questions that they may not have the insight (or courage) to ask yet. Regardless of your industry, it’s time to start listening to what’s said and digging deeper for what isn’t.

Having trouble understanding what matter to your ideal client? Try our buyer persona template to dig deeper.

Don’t Miss A Thing

It’s so important to capture what IS said so that you can refer to it later when you’re ready to analyze and go deeper with your listening. At a recent workshop on Instagram for Business, we actually recorded every participant questions so that we can refer to them later for inspiration, insight + intelligence.

Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em

The questions that we’ve recorded from workshops, client calls, comments on social media and blogs -everywhere + anywhere- are later compiled and used in the following ways:

  1. Direct Content Topics: We often use questions as blog topics to build out “how-to” or guide posts. This post on the difference between a Facebook Ad or a boosted post was inspired by a workshop participant who asked us that question on her way out the door. If one of your ideal clients has a question, chances are pretty good they’re not alone.

  2. Indirect Content Topics: Just as I described above, the questions and comments that your ideal clients share with you can + should serve as insight into what’s on their mind and ultimately inspire you to create content for those curiosities, fears and inspirations that are sometimes left unsaid.

  3. Product or Service Offerings: Really listening to what’s going on in the lives of your ideal customer allows you to take a step back and evaluate whether your product or service is truly offering them the best solution for their situation. Since launching Marrow, we’ve had overwhelming demand for training + coaching services. The problem though is that our schedules wouldn’t accommodate many 1:1 clients. By asking more questions from of our audience and getting to the real heart of the matter, we were able to develop an 8-week group curriculum that will allow us to work with our most engaged audience in a way that is best for both the clients AND for Marrow. At no time however, did anyone specifically ask us to launch an 8 week curriculum. That was unsaid.

(If you’re interested in learning more about the Marrow Marketing Lab, the 8 week curriculum mentioned above, you should check it out below....)

The good news is that we are all capable of being better listeners! When it comes to generating ideas, don’t fall victim to analysis paralysis or let fear take over. At the end of the day, you should know your client best! If you don’t, no problem… just LISTEN!