I am not sure how you formulate great ideas - mine usually starts with a bit of research on which audience I a creating for. Whether I am creating a new brand platform or writing for television - there is nothing is more inspiring than actually talking to real people. Often research can be time intensive and expensive. If you are bootstrapped and cash poor there are a number of ways you can gather real insights that could lead to inspiring work.
I love to start with an in-home ethonography. It's super easy way to tap into your network and interview and observe how they use a product or feel about a brand. I also advocate doing shopper interiews. Often I will shop with people to understand what drives them to purchase a product. If going into people's home or local grocer to observe them is not your cup of tea there are a number of online resouces that could inspire the right thought. I recently ran across this very useful post via Marketing Profs Daily Fix that outlines a few ways to conduct research on a showstring budget:
1. Monitor Trends - Set up a reader that follows influential blogs and sites in your trade and classification (small biz, consultancy, etc.)
2. Create a Clear Objective - Define exactly what you need to know and why. Craft questions accordingly.
3. Begin with your Base - Query your customers and followers. Often they have the most informed and relevant opinions. Once they're heard, move outside of your circle.
Read more about DIY Research at Marketing Profs Daily Fix
How do you find inspiration for your orginal ideas?