great content ideas

Generating Great Ideas for Great Content

Last month we talked about what makes solid content. In other articles, we’ve talked about how to create content that improves your content marketing. Both are integral to an efficient and effective content marketing program. But it’s hard to apply those important concepts if you can’t come up with ideas for great content in the first place. 

Knowing that we want to create content that solves a problem your target audience is experiencing while demonstrating your expertise is a start. As is understanding that we need to write from the audience’s perspective – they’re the hero, not you.

But how do you come up with content ideas that you can fit into the framework we’ve created? 

The Germs of Ideas

Consume more than you create. Listen more than you speak. 

I’m not sure there’s more valuable advice I can share than that when it comes to creating content, or to marketing in general. Listening intently will tell you everything you need to know about each of your audience segments and what you need to provide in order to catch and hold their attention. 

I hope it’s fairly self-evident that you should be listening to your prospects to determine their pain points. Beyond that audience, you should be listening to what your current clients love about the work you do for them and what gaps they wish you would fill, as well. 

Internally, you should be listening to your customer service team and your product development team and anyone else who has a different (non-marketing) perspective about your clients and prospects and what their needs are. 

Industry trends matter, too, so you should be paying attention to how the landscape is changing. This is true for your own industry and the industries of your main audience segments. 

Brainstorm regularly. Pose “what if” questions. Do everything you can to avoid getting complacent and falling into the “this is how we’ve always done it” trap. There’s no reason your marketing team can’t help push for innovation, rather than settling for working with what they are provided.

Understanding Who You’re Appealing To

Who your audience segments are should be fairly well known to you and your marketing team, though you certainly want to dig deep enough to understand where the interests and pain points of various segments overlap and where they diverge. 

You also need to think about where your prospects are in their buying process. You’ll create different kind of content for different stages of the buying process. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need entirely separate sets of content. You will, though, need to present your content in different ways and focus on different parts of the client problem depending on where they are. 

Your prospect’s role is critical, as well. There’s a big difference between a boots-on-the-ground employee with day-to-day concerns and a more senior executive with a broader more strategic perspective on the same problem. Thinking about the things that keeps each of these people up at night will help you generate great content ideas. 

Thinking About Format

This might sound like something you’d consider after coming up with your idea and in some ways, it is a secondary step in the process. But as you consider content ideas you should be evaluating how they can be presented – the impact of a short-form video is quite different than a long-form blog article, a presentation or webinar, an email or a social media post. 

You can come at this issue from a number of angles – how can we best present this topic as a [video / slide deck / postcard / etc.] is one way. You can also come at it from the other direction. What topics are we covering that would be most appropriate as a [video / slide deck / postcard / etc.]? 

Think Bigger Picture

While you’re thinking about formats, you should also be thinking about your bigger marketing picture. Are there topics that lend themselves to being serialized? How can you cover a topic at varying degrees of depth, from Intro/101-level content to graduate seminar style deep dives. Part of this goes back to my earlier point about where your prospects are in their buying process. But it’s also important to appeal to different kinds of learners and cover as many preferences as you can efficiently. 

Occasional large-scale changes can re-invigorate a marketing plan that’s beginning to falter and can provide a blast of inspiration that ripples out through the rest of your marketing. 
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing some of my podcast and radio appearances, you’ll find a few of them listed on the Andigo website.

Andrew Schulkind - Marketing for Small B2B Businesses

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