The Easiest Way to Come Up with Innovative Ideas: The Magic Wand

Identifying Stuff That People HATE When Doing Business with You Might Be Your Best Bet to Innovate & Grow Your Business

Imagine being able to wave a magic wand, utter a simple “abracadabra” and get whatever you wanted. It’s everyone’s fantasy, right?

Abracadabra! A huge pile of cash!

Abracadabra! A new Ferrari!

Abracadabra! A beach house in Maui!

Here’s the funny thing: in business, magic wands actually exist, and they actually do bring you huge piles of cash.

Here’s the twist: to get the big pile of cash, you have to put the magic wand in the customer’s’ hand, not yours.

The magic wand is a simple innovation exercise—in fact, it’s the simplest innovation exercise of all. All you have to do is ask this one simple question:

If you could give your prospects and/or customers a magic wand that they could wave over your industry—or your company—and change it however they wanted, what would they conjure up?

It’s a way to help you identify things that PEOPLE hate about doing business with you (or your industry) so you can replace those hate-worthy things with stuff people love. Sounds simple, I know—but the heart of all innovation is GIVING PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. You’d be surprised at how often you do things your customers can’t stand and you don’t even realize it because it’s “just the way you’ve always done it.”

Remove the roadblocks and watch the sales and cash start piling in.

First a few rules:

Brainstorm. Write down magic wand ideas on paper or a whiteboard with reckless abandon. Whatever comes to mind, write it down.

Don’t worry about how outrageous the idea is while you’re brainstorming. If at least 50% of your ideas are not just plain stupid, then you’re doing it wrong. You can throw out the garbage later.

Don’t worry about how much it will cost to implement the idea. You can analyze that later.

Don’t do ANY kind of editing during the brainstorming process—just let the ideas flow. You can edit later.


How about 50 different magazines to choose from instead of just 7 old copies of Highlights and Newsweek? Heaven forbid I should have to look at my phone for 20 minutes.

Or better yet, give me something even more interesting to do while waiting. Like one of those golfing simulators. Or some throwback arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac Man. Or a basketball shooting game. You’d be looking for excuses to go to the dentist.
Some snacks and drinks would be nice. And some big screen TVs.

Or even better than that, find a way to completely eliminate the need to wait in the first place. Guarantee me that I can walk from my car straight to the chair with a waiting hygienist. I’d really like that.


What if those movies were free, instead of having to pay $13 for them? And no, I don’t mean THOSE movies. I mean real, actual movies.

Or at least give me a channel guide on the TV—like I have at home—so I don’t have to wonder what channel is what, wonder what show is currently on, and wonder what is coming on next.

How about a selection of pillows that allow me to closely match the kind I use at home?

Would it be asking too much to make DECENT snacks available at REASONABLE prices?

Does room service really have to cost so much? I mean, really—the menu prices are already high, PLUS 20% for room service, PLUS a delivery charge, PLUS tax, PLUS tip.
It’s like $27.50 for a bowl of ice cream. Ridiculous.

Advertising Sales:

How about guaranteeing my results? The sales rep is always talking about how great they are—put your money where your mouth is.

Give me some kind of exclusivity. There’s nothing worse than seeing my ad, then 5 seconds later seeing my competitors’ ads. It’s infuriating.

Educate me. Most advertisers don’t know that much about advertising—would it be asking too much for medium to give me access to training (online, seminar, blog, ANYTHING!)?

How about a free trial? You say your magazine or website is great? Fine—run my ad and see what happens. This is similar to the guarantee, but requires me to pay zero up front dinero.


I’m terrible at remembering to be romantic to my wife. How about a subscription where once or twice a month the florist just sends my wife something romantic—flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, whatever—so I look like a hero? They could offer different budgets and frequencies—auto-billed to my credit card.

I’m also good at saying stupid things that require a little bribery niceness to overcome. How about an “emergency” button on my personalized website (where I manage my subscription) that I click that automatically launches “I’m sorry” flowers?

While we’re at it, can you please become my personal gift giving concierge? I have no idea what to get my wife for her birthday, or our anniversary, or for Christmas. Can’t somebody else research this for me? Give me a top 20 selection of gifts and let me just click my choice? Why not the florist?

If you won’t do all that, could you at least make buying flowers easier for me by getting one of those cool vans and drive around to places like MY OFFICE and make it super easy for me to buy?

Do you see how this works? Just give your clients the magic wand and let them change whatever they want!

Now let’s move on to to your business—what do people HATE?

And how do you find this out, besides trying to figure it out yourself?

I’m glad you asked. JUST ASK THEM! Survey, survey and survey some more. Become a surveyaholic! The more you survey your customers, the more information you’ll find out about what it is that they need and want.

Do you think if the above businesses I mentioned as examples had actually asked their customers that they might have gotten some rather interesting ideas on how to get more of their money? You bet they would!

I know a lot of you will dismiss a lot of this out of hand and mutter under your breath that I’m an idiot marketing consultant who doesn’t know the realities of running a business.
Some of you might not hold that thought to “under your breath.”

But where do you think I’ve gathered all these ideas? I’ve watched businesses who have ALREADY given their customers the magic wand take loads of cash to the bank.

It’s really simple: When you get rid of roadblocks; when you let people know that you trust them; when you treat people with genuine respect; when you quit stacking the deck IN YOUR FAVOR—people respond very well. They fall in love with you. And they fork over mounds of cash.

Take the magic wand and give it a twirl on your business. You might just witness a miracle.

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