Lateral thinking and a doughnut

Lateral thinking is two words that pretty much means ‘thinking outside the box’ or ‘thinking creatively’.

Solving problems through an indirect and creative approach often leads to innovative and different results. One thing we do is challenge perception and create the unexpected. Sometimes it’s hard to think of a mundane or tactical issue in a creative way.  This is where lateral thinking techniques can be helpful and fun.

I’m gonna pick a random scenario.  Let’s say you run a car repair place, doing servicing and getting all greasy for money.  A problem your business has is that people don’t bring their cars in for servicing right away. They think about it, ignore the service letters or calls.  They need to do it eventually otherwise they might void their warranty or shit will start to go wrong.  But nonetheless, they will keep trying to avoid going as long as they can.

There’s a bunch of ways you could tackle this issue using conventional means.  For example, you could setup a process for the receptionist and call them every week until they book, or send additional letters.

We want to stand out from our competitors who are probably doing the same thing, and also create a memorable call to action.

So now let’s think about this issue a bit differently.  Lateral thinking involved picking a random non-associated object. For this example let’s use a doughnut. How can we come up with a solution involving a doughnut?

I’ve spent fuck all time (1 minute) and already I have something that could work.  How about if the car repair company issues their repair notices, and accompanying it is a doughnut-shaped flyer. It could say ‘call to schedule your service within 1 week or receiving this notice to claim your free box of a dozen doughnuts‘. For each day that passes, a doughnut is deducted from the box.  So it’s either book now and get a whole box, or lose a doughnut each day!   Okay so it might not work because doughnuts aren’t healthy and not everyone likes them.  But it’s certainly memorable and different to what the customer would expect.  Could it have a positive effect on the business and inspire services being booked faster?  Sure!  It could be something to try for a few months and monitor the results. If it works well, you could change it for something more healthy eg. a fruit basket.  Or maybe movie tickets or some other reward for speedy action.

There’s a whole other method for evaluating these creative ideas and putting the best one into action.  We love thinking about things differently and helping our clients turn ideas to be a positive force on their business.