Lessons from Advertising for Creators

The 80-20 rule with creating a good video is the title and thumbnail. But what comes before that? The idea. And what industry in the world does nothing but manufacture ideas? Advertising.
Here are the best practices for you to come up with banger video ideas – straight from the mad ad world.

Target Audience

If you’re creating for everyone, you’re creating for no one.

The first rule of making great content is to know exactly who you’re creating for. And we don’t mean just the cursory details that a platform provides you. We mean really get into the specifics-so much so that you can see that you can really see who this person is.

Here are some questions for you to ask. Chalk out your average viewer:- put an age, occupation and location. Then answer these questions the best you can:- What’s their background?
What are their hopes and desires? What are their fears? What are their hobbies? Where do they hang out? (both online and offline)

Think you have that information? Cool. Now describe one character from a TV show/movie that you’ve watched that aptly describes this person. Do this for up to 3 different personas in your audience-these are the 3 people you will be creating for.

Now on, any idea you have you’ll ask yourself- “will persona A, B or C think this valuable/entertaining?” Then cool, you can work with it. Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board.

Competitive Analysis

There are no two ways around it. All 50 million creators in the world are your competition-since everyone’s competing for attention. This is especially true with competition within your own niche-where everyone is largely competing for the same pairs of eyeballs.

The way to turn this in your favor is competitive analysis.

Pick 5 creators in your niche and learn from them. Pick up the things you like about the way they do things and make it your own. From creation skills to distribution strategies to audience engagement – understand why the audience chose to click on their video over yours. Remember keep your friends close and the creators in the same niche, closer. 😉

Find your USP

The Unique Selling Point is an oft-abused phrase in advertising. It’s a product’s edge over its competition-the one benefit it offers over another. Now for a creator, a USP can be resources, a skill, a quality or a combination of these that gives them an advantage.

The biggest creators today have their USP’s down to a science.
For example:-
MrBeast- his insane spending on crazy ideas(resource) + extreme high bar of execution(quality)
David Dobrik- the vlog squad(resource) + ability to tell highly engaging stories from nothing(skill)
Airrack- Setting and completing impossible sounding quests(skill) + okayness with rule-breaking(quality)

Find your unique mish-mash of qualities, skills and resources that can give you your USP. Here are some questions to get you started.

  1. What are a series of experiences you’ve had that most people haven’t?
  2. What’s something you’ve spent 5+ years learning about or getting better at?
  3. What resource do you have that most people would love to have?

If you can’t hit an answer right now, it’s fine. Just experiment and be open to new ideas. And if you constantly come to a dead end with this question, perhaps its time to stop finding a USP. And instead, make one. And now finally, comes the ideation process.

You’ve checked out your competition and analyzed your own audience. You’ve also figured out your USP. All that’s left is to come up with some great ideas. Here are some staple tools from the ad world to cook up some cool stuff.


Arrange all of your inspirations/ideas in a mindmap. Laying out all of the different inspirations you have like this can visually help you put together different associations.

Lateral thinking

What this involves is picking an object that has nothing to do with your niche or even content in general. And then forcing yourself to ideas using the object for your content. Hard limits like this force you to be creative and with it, think of something that hasn’t been thought of yet. Add more than one object to really get your gears turning.

Let’s say you’re creating videos on how to play the guitar. The first step is to define your sandbox-the resources available to you. This might include a room, a phone camera, your guitar and a friend-these are tools in your sandbox. The random object that you pick to generate ideas with could be … a watermelon. Now an idea with these resources could be➖

Songs that you can learn in the time it takes to make watermelon juice.

Introduce some more randomness

To make the process of generating random ideas easier, try this. Go to the random page on Wikipedia and access a random article on any topic. Again, force yourself to come up with as many ideas as you can by combining info from the random article and your niche. If you want another way of combining random ideas, here’s MrBeast talking about his version of the same process.


Question the advantages/disadvantages of your limitations.For example, Ryan Trahan turned the MrBeast formula of doing crazy-expensive challenges on its head… by doing crazily inexpensive challenges. Find your limitations and ask yourself…

Is there a way you can turn your limitations into a strength?

Show bad ideas the door

Those are 3 classic creative thinking tools.

But remember, generating ideas is only half the battle. The second half is being patient enough to let the bad ideas pass. And there will be a lot of them. Your best ideas will come after at least 100 mediocre ideas. You’ll need to tough it out.

And there you have it. There’s the ad-man’s process to generating great ideas. Use it to find uncharted territory for your content. Go forth and claim your content treasure-the advertising Gods smile upon you.

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