ideas culling

NUF Testing to Narrow Down a Long List of Ideas

It was an absolute privilege to speak at Brighton SEO last week. It’s always such a fantastic conference and Kelvin Newman and the rest of the team at Rough Agenda work tirelessly to put on a diverse group of speakers and arrange networking and social events to rival any in the industry.

I spoke on the Habits that Land You Links. My slides are below:

NUF testing cull ideas

Image credit.

I’ve written before about how we use the 6-3-5 method of brainwriting to help with the first stage of ideation for content marketing projects. But I talked briefly at BrightonSEO about the next step in our process – narrowing that long list of ideas down through NUF testing. So I thought I would delve into that in a little more detail here to explain exactly how it works for us and what we do.

Following our brainwriting sessions, we often end up with a long list of ideas. Once we’ve consolidated ideas that are very similar from the 108 we have, we almost always still have around 100. It’s imperative for us that we don’t waste time taking substandard ideas to the second stage in our process. It’s easy to get caught up developing ideas that aren’t good enough and that can be such a drain on resource. So what we do is use a process called NUF Testing that I first came across at http://creatingminds.org/tools/nuf_test.htm. This helps us to cull the weakest of our ideas and here’s how it works.

NUF Testing

We take each of our initial ideas and we score them out of 10 on each of the following NUF critera:

  • NEW – how new is this idea in the context of your current landscape and what your competitors are doing?
  • USEFUL – how useful is this idea in terms of actually meeting your goals? So if you want to generate social shares, how likely is this idea to generate social shares? Or if your goals are to convert users to customers how likely is the idea to achieve that?
  • FEASIBLE – how feasible is it for you to actually deliver this idea taking into account your budget, resources and time?

If you score each idea out of 10 against each of the above criteria, you’re left with a score out of 30. Our general approach is to cull the ideas that fall short of 20. But you might experiment with different cut off points.

The Rejected Ideas

We don’t totally write our rejected ideas off. Sometimes things change. Perhaps the availability of resources might change or the goals might change and the ideas that fail your NUF testing at this stage might become more useful or feasible if your circumstances change later. So don’t ditch them altogether. Store them and revisit them if things change.

Focussing on the Strongest Ideas

NUF testing is our first port of call to make sure we focus efforts only into our strongest ideas. But this is just the start. We then seek a lot of impartial feedback, crowdsource feedback and so on to shorten our list even further

It always seems somewhat worrying when you start with this long list of 100+ ideas and start culling them. It doesn’t feel good to seemingly write off (even temporarily) a lot of ideas. But, particularly when working agency side, focussing only on the strongest ideas is essential to ensure we remain efficient at content marketing ideation.