How many marketing articles have you seen around the idea that “content is king?” You’ve probably seen dozens of them, all following the same basic structure, sharing the same statistics, and basically saying the same thing over and over. Hundreds of these articles exist on hundreds of different marketing sites.
Coming up with new ideas is hard, so it becomes easy to see what other people are writing about and do the same thing. While not a bad idea, if enough people do this, then everybody is just rewriting the same article. That floods the market, and unless you are one of the first few people to cover it, means most articles are left unread.
So, instead of just looking up what other people are writing, you need to come up with new and fresh ideas for your content marketing. That means effective brainstorming, researching new topics you might not be familiar with, and discovering what needs customers have that aren’t being met.
Brainstorming: More Than Just Chatting With Coworkers
Any marketer worth their salt knows that brainstorming is essential to effective content marketing. If only one person is coming up with all of your ideas, you will likely have some pretty big gaps in your marketing.
If you are going to take time to run a brainstorm with your coworkers, you need to make it as effective as possible. You want to get as many good ideas out of the meeting as you can and avoid wasting your co-workers time. There are tons of tips for having an effective brainstorm, but here are a few essential ones:
Location Plays a Huge Role
Holding your brainstorm in the right place is very important to staying productive. Do it in a public place like a coffeehouse or park, and people will get distracted. Hold it in a public area of your office and people might be nervous speaking up or suggesting new ideas in fear of judgement.
Prime locations typically need a way to write down ideas for everybody to read (like a whiteboard), are relatively distraction free, have enough space and seating for everybody to be comfortable, and is separate from the rest of the office so that people can speak freely.
Have a Variety of People
Who comes to your brainstorm plays a big part in your end results. Deciding who to invite to the brainstorm is essential to getting the ideas you want. If you are wanting highly specific article ideas that only experts can provide, then you need to invite industry or business experts. On the other hand, if you want more of a top-level style of content, invite people who won’t focus too much on specifics but have a general understanding.
Diversity in your brainstorm also means different experiences and ideas. These people might interpret your target market differently and see barriers or problems you didn’t notice.
Finally, be careful who you invite and consider how each person might impact the brainstorm. Inviting a boss into a brainstorm might lead to certain employees not offering up their ideas, while others might try to dominate and show off.
Have Them Come Prepared
Before people walk into a brainstorm, they need to know the purpose of it. At least a day in advance, let them know what the focus of the brainstorm will be and give them whatever info they need. Give them time to ponder on the topic, come up with ideas on their own, research any data you can provide, and get in the right mindset for a brainstorm. That way, you can hit the ground running, not waste time explaining the situation and avoid idle chit chat.
Pulling Ideas From Data and Research
Marketing decisions based off of data are more likely to succeed. As you work on coming up with content ideas, turn to different data sources for inspiration.
A good place to start is the analytics from your website. What content performed the best, and why? High-performing content shows an interest from people on the subject matter, and maybe you need to go more in-depth on it.
The next place to go is keyword research. What keywords are you trying to rank for, how much progress have you made, and what keywords are too hard to go for. Many short tail keywords or head terms are often dominated by major industries, so it behooves you to pursue long tail keywords. Often, long tail keywords are in the form of a question that needs answering, perfect forideas of what content to make. By answering their question, you’ll get a more qualified lead and hopefully can lead them into your marketing funnel.
If possible, use your data and external sources (like Google Trends) to find upcoming trends you can talk about. If a topic is becoming popular, try to find a way it can apply to your industry. That way, you can attract traffic to your site by either bringing your own spin on a hot topic or being one of the first to cover it.
Interview Your Target Market
Content marketing can sometimes feel like throwing ideas at a wall until something sticks. Instead of working in the dark, you can directly ask your target market what kind of content they want from you.
Ask to interview a few recent customers about their experience. Find out what information they got from your site, where else they went when searching for information, what info they wished they could find, and what difficulties they encountered. This is a great way to find gaps in the buyer’s process that aren’t being filled by your business or your competitors. By interviewing a few different customers, you can get a good sense of the strengths and weaknesses your strategy has and work to fix it.
Be Unique, But Stay on Strategy
It’s easy when coming up with new ideas to get sidetracked. You might come up with an amazing and fresh article idea, but remember to refer back to your content marketing strategy. If your idea doesn’t fit, or won’t be conducive to pushing customers down your marketing funnel, move on. Whether you come up with ideas through brainstorming, interview, or from data, make sure those ideas stay in line with your purpose.