Ideas have value: How to run a brainstorming session for marketing and sales teams

2 October 2018

How to run a brainstorming session for marketing and sales teams

In the face of changing landscapes–digital transformation and changing customer behaviours–the value of an original idea to support your sales, marketing or even strategic functions is very real and increasingly important.

As a digital and creative agency, we understand the real value generating ideas can have on business. It’s what we do. For our friends in the B2B marketing and NFP world, collaborating with different areas of the business can often make things a little more complicated.

So, how exactly can you avoid those awkward silences we all despise and encourage creative ideas and conversation?


Tips to run a great brainstorming session for marketing and sales teams


1) Set the tone

Invite members of your teams and really set the tone for what is expected. Keep it light, warm, fun and inviting. If there are any key questions or themes that you would like participants to think about beforehand, include this in the body of the email. Together with the 3 key things you are hoping to achieve in the session. That will set a clear intention, and helps participants know what to expect ahead of time.

2) Find a creative space

Try and find a space that differs from the usual office setting. A change in environment will encourage a shift away from ‘same old, same old’ thinking. While you want ideas that support the essence of your organisation you don’t want the office environment to promote rigidity. Move away from current thinking and processes – The key is to explore!

3) Encourage wild ideas

Fear can really hold participants back from making suggestions. Frame the session with an all ideas are welcome approach, nothing is too far fetched. No right or wrong answer. You would be surprised at what can come off the back of a seemingly ridiculous and ‘far out’ concept. One of the ways you can facilitate inclusion (to ease the wallflowers into conversation) is to start with a contribution of anonymous ideas – like an ideas box or unnamed post-it suggestions. This is a handy way to separate the idea from the person who has thought of it – something someone more introverted might appreciate, especially at the beginning.

4) No hierarchy

The brainstorming session is a place of equals. If you feel that having the presence of a senior member might stifle the conversation, consider whether they are needed for the entirety of the session. Perhaps they can join the conversation at a later time, once the key ideas are already on the table.

5) There’s no ‘No’. Build up on other people’s ideas 

This is where the popular ‘yes, and…’ approach comes in handy. If you are not familiar, it’s a concept that stems from improvisational comedy, where each person is required to build on the idea of the person before him/herself. There are no censors or ‘buts’, instead by saying ‘and’ you can add to the idea or take it in a newer, further aligned direction.

6) Get the juices flowing with an activity

Try to start with something that encourages creative flow, something non-business related. Something like: ’10 things Trump would never say’, ’10 reasons why you deserve a holiday’, ‘What we’d do with a million dollars?’

7) Use creative tools

Create an environment that eases the flow of energy. For example play music during reflection time, use colourful paper, pens and other craft materials to encourage creativity.

8) Room set up

Open spaces encourage connection, flow and conversation. You might like to include some alternative options such as cushions, beanbags and other break out spaces. Natural light is great too if it’s an option.

9) A mixture of owning ideas and anonymity

There will always be members of a group who are more introverted. They may have great ideas but are too afraid to speak up! Employing a variety of ways to get ideas out (including note cards, a whiteboard, using stickers to vote for ideas etc.) can really help. They key is to get the ideas out.

10) Set a clear goal

It’s helpful to quantify the number of ideas you require to reach your goal. Do you need 10 – 50 new ideas? This can help with the allocation of time for each key question.


Happy idea harvesting! Everyone is creative. And while some people have an easier access to their creative faculties, you will be surprised at what your team can come up with when given the right environment, facilitation and tools. Talk to us at B2B agency Make it Happen for additional help bringing brand, digital and campaign ideas to life.



Related Posts:

Join the MIH Newsletter

Sign up and we'll bring you the latest on industry trends, news, tips and opinions.




Job Title



I'm most interested in... (tick all that apply):
BrandDemandDigitalB2B Lead GenerationChannel MarketingNot For Profit


Get the latest B2B, NFP AND MarkEting insights from our complimentary resource library