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Coming up with content ideas for your own business or client can sometimes prove to be a little tricky. The frustration caused by getting stuck for ideas can cause issues, especially if you’re on deadline or content needs to be scrapped and altered at the last minute. So what’s the solution?
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, famously said: “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This quote signifies the importance of planning in advance in order to achieve your goals.
The same principle applies to your business too. Taking time to develop your ideas, either on your own or in a team, will ensure that your content is targeted and will help achieve whatever your goals may be; from increasing traffic and social shares, to strengthening your brand or improving conversions and sales.
So if you need inspiration to help you come up with your own content ideas, take a look at these eight brainstorming methods below.
The first brainstorming method is to list all of the key dates and events throughout the year specific to your industry that are worth creating content around. You may want to start adding these to a calendar, similar to the example below.
Come up with a second list of brainstorming ideas around any products or services that you could push at different times of the year to reflect trends in seasonality.
Once you’re done, it’s worth seeing if you can combine any of the key dates and events with seasonality trends to form the basis of your content ideas.
Start by choosing a key topic or type of content, for example ‘marketing’ or an Infographic.
Once you have your central theme or type of content you can create ideas around it and then sub ideas around the individual ideas too.
Try to generate as many ideas as possible, as you can always refine specific ones and reject any that don’t meet your criteria.
The end result will be much easier to visualise, compared to a static list.
Next up is the 5 Ws and 1 H technique. This method involves asking a series of questions to formulate a number of sustainable ideas and gather further information on a particular topic.
The questions should focus on an idea, product or service and look at the following areas:
Answering all of the questions will give you more in-depth information about your initial idea, before establishing if it’s worth using in your content strategy.
This is a simple but effective method to use if you get stuck for ideas and if you are struggling to remember the questions, just repeat the original concept from Rudyard Kipling’s – The Elephant Child:
“I Keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who”.
This is another simple yet effective method that allows you to think more visually and creatively, compared to writing lists.
Perform an image search for keywords that relate to the industry, topic or theme for which you want to create content.
Once the pictures are on your screen in front of you, think about what initially comes to mind and establish your ideas based on what you can see in front of you.
Think about what the images convey and see if you can work these ideas into your content.
It might sound different to what you’ve tried before, but it could be the winning ticket to finding that killer content idea.
Instead of thinking of new ideas from scratch, use your most valuable business asset to your advantage – your customers.
How do you achieve content ideas with the help of your customers? Simple – all you need to do is ask or keep a record of all the problems/questions they’ve had previously regarding your products and services. You can even brainstorm some of these from past experiences or by putting yourself in the customers’ shoes and looking at potential issue from their perspective.
Once you’re done, aim to offer solutions to each individual problem within the content that you create. One example of this method for a technology company could be as follows:
Problem: Customers don’t know if the company’s software works on their device
Solution: Create an Infographic or blog post that details which software is compatible with which device.
Similar to picture association, this method is a little more on the creative side of the spectrum. However, it does allow you to uncover new connections and insights that you wouldn’t normally think of.
Get started by choosing a word that’s associated with your business. Next, think of as many words associated with the initial word and see if you can make a connection between them that fits in with what your business offers.
It can sometimes be a little tricky to make the connection between the words you’ve selected, but after a few attempts the ideas should start to flow.
So for example you might have made the connection between technology, to hardware, to Apple (brand), to fruit. These associated words can be the inspiration for potential ideas, so take the time to mind map ideas based on such associated words.
You may reject a high number of ideas with this method, although allowing the brain to think less logically can in contrast produce great results.
This concept is built around having six people in a group spending five minutes to come up with three ideas on a piece of paper. However this can be altered, depending on the number of people in your team and the time you wish to dedicate towards your idea creation.
After the time is up, the paper is passed to the person on your right and the process is repeated again in the designated time until the first piece of paper you wrote on comes back to you.
Having to think creatively under pressure is an excellent way to detail all of the initial ideas that come to you, no matter how far-fetched and imaginative they seem.
When you end up with the same piece of paper, take a look at everyone’s ideas collectively and select the best ones to run with.
To get you thinking outside the box in a rational and creative way, try the thinking hats method.
The concept involves coming up with an idea or theme and then applying different thinking hats to refine the initial idea.
So, for example, your concept or idea could be built around ‘clothes’.
With your theme in place, use these hats to analyse areas you could cover in your content:
White hat – looks at facts, data and information already known or needed relating to the theme
Red hat – looks at feelings, initial instinct and intuition
Black hat – looks at potential problems and difficulties
Yellow hat – looks at benefits and values
Green hat – looks at creativity, possibilities, new ideas and alternatives
Blue hat – looks at managing the thinking process – start with a focus, then detail the next steps, actions and plans.
There are quite a lot of areas to look into with this method, but it’s particularly good for coming up with a large list of potential ideas to use.
So now you know how to become more creative, it’s time to put these content brainstorming methods to the test.
Next time you need to come up with a range of content ideas for your own business or your client’s strategy, use some of the eight methods above and see how you get on.
Remember, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail, so avoid this situation by planning and brainstorming your ideas well in advance.
Thanks for reading, if you have any ideas of your own, feel free to add them below or tweet me via @John_Waghorn.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.