For many entrepreneurs who deal with designing products for the public, the biggest roadblock many seem to encounter is finding the next creative idea. Perhaps you have had a few good ideas, they have sold really well, but now you want to branch out and find other ideas to expand your business. Or, conversely, maybe the ideas and designs you have had thus far have been total bombs and you are desperate to find a winner! Either way, many merchers struggle to be creative. Let’s face it, it is hard to come up with ideas and even harder to come up with ideas that no one else has come up with already! So, here is the second installment of this topic – and hopefully this will help you spark your creative side!
Hone in on hobbies: People take their hobbies EXTREMELY seriously. Hobbies can be anything from reading to horseback riding to crafing to fishing to hunting. A person who is serious about their hobby will naturally be drawn to merchandise that showcases that hobby. For example, a fisherman who is serious about his fishing may find a shirt that reads: MILF – Man, I Love Fishing, to be a real hoot! Not to mention those who love this fisherman in their life may find this to be the perfect gift for him as well. Some things you may not even find to be a “hobby” like going to the beach, but for some people this is a huge part of their lives, so it becomes a hobby. Then, how do you find what hobbies are new, popular or up and coming? Google of course! If you search for “popular hobbies” you can search these sites which list them:
There are countless others, and you can search by gender (hobbies for women) or by age (hobbies for retired people). The idea is to find ideas for things that are popular and then gear your products to fit those criteria.
Know your niche: Perhaps you have a particular niche in which you know a lot about the subject and can craft designs specific to that niche. For example, if you are a crocheter you may understand the lingo and and puns that go along with this niche. Yes, this is a hobby, but when you take a hobby and hone in one specific lingo it makes it more specific to that group of persons who share the niche. A great niche is people who share a certain career or academic following. A literary niche, for example, will provide quotes and plays on words that are related to the specific niche of those who are knowledgeable in this area. Or, may have the imagery of a favorite author or book, twisted around in a funny way. For example, Edgar Allan Poe, a very popular author with a lot of devote followers, may find a shirt that has Poe saying: “I’m just a Poe boy and nobody loves me” while his iconic raven responds, “He’s just a Poe boy from a Poe family.” (which is, already, Trademarked of course) This is a hilarious little pun for anyone who loves literature and Poe specifically. So, if you have a niche use that to your fullest potential and advantage and play off of it. If you do not have a niche, then perhaps employ the ideas of someone who does. For example, if you have a favorite aunt who is a math professor, perhaps ask her about some equations or clever math-related sayings that would appeal to her and those in her niche. Think about Googling things like “Literary Quotes” or “Literary Puns” or “Things Mechanics Say” and see what a wealth of ideas will pop up:
Thinking Trade shows: All of these categories (hobbies, niches, trades) are very closely related, but yet different enough to offer you a wealth of resources for searching out ideas. Trade shows are like a mixture of niche and hobby in that the people who attend can be in the profession or interested in the profession. Trade shows cater to people in a particular field (such as funeral and burial, food service, computers, tattoo artists, electronics, video games) and they have products for those fields. This would not only be a great place to find ideas, but also a great place to either do product research on what these people find interesting or amusing or to eventually sell your products which are specific to this genre. In order to find these trade shows we turn to our friend Google once again. Here is a basic list (and you can hone this in more by putting in specific keywords for the industry such as ‘food service trade shows.’
Attending these trade shows will give you many ideas and definitely help spark creativity. There are endless market possibilities here for sure. In the final installment of our creative ideas series I will discuss verticals. Now, aren’t you intrigued?