Top tips for generating effective content marketing ideas

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where good content marketing ideas come from. It’s not an exact science by any means. Waiting for them to pop into your mind can be a long process. But there are ways to encourage them into existence.

It’s about finding what works for you, or for your business, and allowing your mind the freedom to work within the space you have created, using the best insights, to come up with great ideas for great content.

Right so how do you get started. Well, there are two ways you can approach this; on your own, or in a group.

Creating ideas on your own…

When working by yourself to generate great content ideas, there are several things you need to keep in mind:

The reading habits of your buyer personas

The creative efforts of your closest competitors

Relevant topics and issues in your field

Relevant insights and lessons learnt from your efforts in SEO

First up, understanding reading habits…

To do this, you need to look at the world from the eyes of your audience. What issues are they facing? What are they searching for online? Which sites are they visiting?

For the best insights, you can try to interview some of your best (and most engaged) customers over the phone or via email to find out what they like or dislike about your content, and ultimately, what kind of content they would like to see from you.

Be aware of what your competitors are doing…

A quick way to generate content ideas is to look at what kind of content your competitors are putting out, looking specifically for which pieces are getting the most attention.

Your audience is probably similar to theirs, so a bit of research in this area can paint a detailed picture of what resonates well with your buyer personas.

Keywords keywords keywords…

You can build on this understanding by identifying relevant keywords, then searching online to pick out specific (and current) problems that your audience are facing. Using sites such as Quora, which offer high quality discussion boards dealing a wide range of subjects, you can quickly gather insights that will help you generate helpful content for that audience.

Finally, be sure to look over and analyse your SEO efforts…

By using tools such as Google Search Console (and even their autocomplete and ‘related search’ functions ), you can see which queries visitors typed into Google to lead them to your site, as well as topics you’re ranking for.

This insight is a creative goldmine (and potentially a money goldmine), as you can see first-hand what people are typing in, and thus how they’re thinking about, and approaching the issues you’re concerned with.

These methods are by no means just for when you’re working on your own, the insights you can gather from these approaches can provide great jumping off points for any group creative sessions. So keep them in mind for group work too.

Creating ideas with others…

Everyone has great ideas, not just creatives. And oftentimes, the best ideas can come from the least expected places.It’s important to pool together the insight and thought-processes from all round your business, to cover every possible angle of approach.The best way to do this is through structured brainstorming.

Here’s how you can get the most out of your content marketing brainstorms…

Bring together people whose job isn’t to create content, their ideas can be a great way to kick off the process and get you thinking in a different way.

Again, there’s no proper science to this. But there are a few ways to make your brainstorming sessions run smoothly and effectively:

Have someone in charge – otherwise things can quickly get messy

Set a direction & time limit – having an end in sight will keep you on track

Identify early the problem you’re trying to solve

Remember, there’s no such thing as a bad idea!

It’s crucial to set up an atmosphere where people feel comfortable sharing, and discussing their ideas.

One way to do this is with ice-breakers…

A good ice-breaker will get people feeling comfortable with each other and the topic. Once everyone is settled, engaged and feeling creative, you should instigate a briandump.

Time for a brain dump everyone…

In a braindump, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. A relevant topic should be set, then it should be a short uninterrupted spell where any and all ideas are noted down or shared with the group. Ultimately in a braindump, the goal is quantity, not quality.

Get visual…

Using post-it notes, colourful pens, mind-maps, or any other fun visual aids you can think of is a great way to boost engagement and keep track of your ideas as you go.  It’s important to display everyone’s ideas, not just your favourites, to maintain a positive atmosphere and keep everyone engaged.

There’s no time like a set time…

It’s often said that constraint breeds creativity, and this is very true. By setting and keeping to a time limit for your content marketing brainstorms, and specific sections within it, you will pull out the best ideas. People often need a bit of encouragement to get into it, so this can be an effective way to pull people in.

Ultimately, you’re not running these sessions to come away with polished content ideas. If you leave with lots of little seeds, that’s a good result. The aim is to generate new, unexpected ideas that you can then take away and developed into great content marketing ideas.