Do you look for creative marketing ideas in unusual places? Take, for instance, alumni magazines. The Winter 2009 issue of Stanford Business Magazine has stories about marketing and communications, based on the experiences of alumni working in companies such as Mexico's Grupo Reforma, China's Youku (think YouTube meets Hulu), and America's Ning. Three unusually detailed articles chock full of thought-provoking observations.
The newspapers under the Grupo Reforma umbrella, for instance, have established editorial boards for every section of the paper (food, fashion, etc). Each board has 12 to 14 community leaders who serve for a year (some a bit longer) and meet two or three times a week with editors to discuss what that section of the paper is doing well, what it should improve, and what stories might be covered in future articles.
In all, 18,000 "citizen editors" have served on these boards over the years. Community involvement this intense not only makes the paper better, it seeds readership and gives management first-hand knowledge of who the product serves and what needs must be met. It also makes the paper more responsive as a "product."
Other alumni publications have articles worth a quick look for marketing ideas, so get Googling. For instance, the Brown Alumni Mag has a story about eliminating bottled water on campus--the bottle being the environmental problem to be solved via marketing. Harvard Magazine recently looked back on the campaign to reduce drunk driving by designating a driver, a classic story worth reading. Marketing ideas are everywhere, not just the usual places.