Content Marketing: generating ideas

Content marketing is not a new concept, per se. For decades copywriters have been feeding off material produced internally by companies. But it has taken on a life of its own now for a number of good reasons.

  • it is a great way to give a precise and rounded idea of who you are and what you do
  • it shows you understand the issues that your prospects face
  • it can demonstrate in what areas you are strong
  • it can build affinity
  • it’s a great way to bring someone on the customer journey
  • It is relatively inexpensive compared to the production and media costs of an advertising campaign.

If you have done this already, however, you’ll know how challenging it can be to produce consistently interesting content. Here are a few ways I try to keep ahead of the game.

* KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

This is not new. What is new is the amount of information you can find these days. Check your website’s analytics. What age group are we talking about? What keywords do they use to reach you? What sort of items are they reading on your site? What sort of affinities do the analytics reveal? How are you or your competitors’ products being rated on Amazon or Ali Baba? What are people doing with your products on Pinterest? Where does keyword search lead you? Sources such as these provide great insights.

* BRAINSTORM YOUR WAY TO GREAT IDEAS

I have found brainstorming to be a great way to increase the range and number of ideas.  Get the team around the table, break open the biscuits and start spilling ideas. Consider and take note of them all and pay particular attention to ideas that leapfrog from a first idea. From experience, they can be the most useful. Make sure the sessions are light and fun. Don’t get too bogged down with details at this stage. The idea is to have LOTS of ideas and to edit them later.

* USE SWIPE FILES TO BOOKMARK IDEAS

Get into the habit of bookmarking ideas in a swipe file. These days, this is usually a bookmark folder on your browser. In the old days, it used to consist of articles and ads ripped from magazines. It could be notes spoken into a phone – any variation of that. The trick is to systematically note the idea one way or another. Get into that habit.

* CHECK THE COMPETITION

I always love checking the competition. There are times when they are inspiring, and there are times when they simply help define our own work more clearly. But be very careful about running campaigns that just counter the competition. If you do that, you are dancing to their tune – even if you do it cleverly. Try always to be the one that is leading the conversation. Just remember at all times that your clients don’t care about your competitor’s new baseline or claim; they care about their own day-to-day much more! So always use that as your guideline.

* STAY CURIOUS

“Smart” is the buzzword of the noughties. What it means in the context of generating content marketing ideas is being able to identify trends and where you fit in. This could be a fashion trend, a new management concept or societal change (lockdown, anyone?). Get back into reading the industry trade magazines. Most companies subscribe to a few, but only very few people read them. Yet they contain interviews with suppliers and new producers that can contain pearls of wisdom.

One big takeaway from this should be that generating ideas for content marketing is a process much more than it is a goal. The idea is to churn out ideas that will subsequently be reviewed and analysed for feasibility. Check also how ideas can be used in different formats. A customer interview can be turned into a case story which might be suitable to become a pictograph or micro-video for LinkedIn or Facebook.  

The closer you are to what really interests people – and in the appropriate format – the better the results will be.

If you want help in developing content marketing ideas, call me on +32/496/62 68 43

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