Sh*t out of ideas for content marketing? Sick of your usual methods? Unsure where to start to generate some fresh nuggets or new items of value?
Whichever it is, here are some methods that work for me (and sometimes I generate 40 ideas at a time, so I know what I’m talking about).
Let’s start with my №1 rule for content marketing ideation: Either say what no one else is saying, or say something similar in a completely different way.
To achieve this, you may want to:
1. Create topic lists in bunches.
When you’re ready to write new content, you shouldn’t be sitting down to decide what you’ll write about. This wastes time and is inefficient. I like to create long lists of potential topics all at once; to spend a few hours researching subjects.
Here’s a sample:
Blog Post Ideas for Service Businesses
1. Find out why the founders decided to start your business.
2. Share a step-by-step guide to a typical process or action your clients may use in their business.
3. Share a list of resources that you use in your business, that your clients may find useful.
4. Interview a business that offers a service that complements what you offer.
5. Write about “what not to do” when running a business in your clients’ niche.
6. Think about a typical “myth” relating to your business or your clients’ businesses and bust the myth in a blog post.
7. Share a checklist of things your clients can do to improve an aspect of their business.
8. Write about a recent business book, podcast or webinar you’ve attended.
9. Write about a current news topic relating to your niche.
10. Write a seasonal post. For example, you could write about things your clients should do in their businesses in the lead up to New Year in Israel, Ramadan in the Middle East, etc.
11. Write a comparison post between one aspect of your business, and something totally unrelated (such as a popular TV show, pop culture phenomenon or news story).
12. Ask staff to share a business tip for clients, and do a “direct speech” round-up of their responses.
13. What are your biggest fears in your business and what are you doing to overcome them?
2. Start with your audience.
Content depends on your audience. Obvs. There’s no single topic that talks to everyone. When you know who you’re writing to, and you understand what they like and how they communicate, it’s much easier to share what they want to hear.
3. Understand the user’s intent.
You must pay close attention to what your intended audience is searching for; specifically how they’re searching for it and the search volume of each topic. Be aware that they’re usually looking for one of the following four things:
- To know/find out something
- To do something (informational queries)
- To go somewhere
- To be entertained in some way
4. Create a list of keyphrases.
Once you understand your audience and understand their user intent, you can start building a list of keywords and phrases to use in your content.
When searching for keywords, think about two things:
- What are you ‘selling’?
- What problem are you solving for your audience?
Something that has helped me a lot when it comes to content strategy and keyword research is using a keyword planner. I’ve used different ones in the past, like:
- SEMrush. This platform is paid. The topic research tool inside the platform will show you which searches are being made, in real time, about a specific keyword or topic. You can find thousands of questions that can work as content ideas.
- Answerthepublic.com is free. This tool is designed to show you relevant searches and questions that people are asking on a specific topic.
- Google Search Console. If you have access to Google Search Console and it is properly linked and verified to your domain, you should be able to see queries used to find your website. It will also show you current topics you’re ranking for.
- Then, there’s Google’s own search bar.
5. Speak to your sales team.
Marketing and sales alignment is a win for everyone. In pursuit of that unification, ask each of your sales reps to email you the top three questions they receive from prospects, and then write content based on those questions.
6. Speak to customer service.
As the frontline of your organisation, customer service reps hear the good and the bad. These interactions are often heartfelt, demanding and insightful. They provide additional context and shape to conversations you could be having in the marketing space. Find out: What’s the most frequently asked question? What’s the top pain point? What triggers customers to repeat-purchase?
7. Look at company learning.
A little self-reflection is a great thing. It shows your brand’s humanity, expresses its openness to new experiences, and provides a roadmap for others to follow (or avoid). For instance, what did your organisation learn in 2020? Write about it. What does your CEO say in every company meeting? Share it. Personalising your content (and humanising your brand) is excellent fodder for content marketing.
8. Conduct audience interviews.
How do you know what type of content your audience wants to see? Ask them to tell you. Conduct interviews and send surveys. Phone them. Engage with them.
9. Send out a network survey.
User-generated content can be an efficient and painless method for churning out new ideas and offering fresh perspectives on industry issues. All you have to do is leverage your own networks, associations, communities or industry groups.
10. Read industry newsletters.
They’ll keep you up to date with trending topics, news and events. You can even sign up for competitors’ mailers, to see what they’re discussing with their customers.
11. Share industry data.
Seen a recent study related to your industry? Write about it. You don’t have to be the one conducting the research — although that would make the content even better.
12. Tackle the ‘opposites’.
Pros and cons. What to do and what not to do. To-dos and don’t-dos. Using opposites allows you to double the number of content ideas you have.
For instance, if you’re a home loan provider, you might post an article titled “6 reasons why a fixed-rate home loan could be ideal for younger buyers.” You could then write an opposing one titled “6 reasons why an adjustable-rate home loan could be ideal for younger buyers.” See where I’m going with this?
13. Bust prevailing myths.
Taking a stance, no matter how controversial, is a good way to shape industry conversations. Now, you’d better have the chops to back up what you say, but the point is that there’s a definite market for content that forces people to rethink previously held beliefs — or at least engage with you to offer up their own rebuttals.
For instance, we’ve all been told that the average human swallows eight spiders a year while sleeping. False. Can you apply this sort of myth-busting to your industry?
Tiffany Markman gives good advice on words and writing. Want some?
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