As online marketing becomes more and more popular, one type of marketing effort that’s emerged as a powerful tool is content marketing. Content marketing is the process of creating content – usually for online platforms, like blogs, websites, and social media sites – that’s designed to increase traffic and attract consumers to a brand or business.
While content marketing can be an extremely effective tool for growing a business, content marketing can also be rendered ineffective, if not harmful to a business, when the content isn’t high quality. One thing that is essential to high-quality content is creative article and content topics. Unfortunately, thinking of a variety of creative topics week after week can be extremely challenging and time-consuming for business marketers.
One thing that your marketing team can do to aid in the process of generating creative content topics is to engage in a powerful and effective brainstorming session. For tips and rules for brainstorming for creative content ideas, the following can help:
The Set Up – Before You Start
While you’re welcome to brainstorm ideas on your own, brainstorming as a team can be more successful, as putting more heads together can generate more ideas. As such, before you start your brainstorming session, you need to decide who will be participating. Working with multiple different departments within your company, like PR, SEO, and social, can help to produce more ideas. However, remember that the larger the group, the more off-topic things can get, and the more disagreements that may arise.
In addition to choosing your brainstorming team, you should also have some decisions made in advance. For example, since you’re brainstorming about content topics, you should know how often you want to create new content. The frequency with which you plan to post new content may determine the type of content that you will create.
Finally, decide on a space that is conducive to effective brainstorming. When you brainstorm, your brain needs to loosen up to get the creative juices flowing. In other words, you shouldn’t hold the brainstorming session in a room or area that’s associated with mundane or stressful tasks. Instead, think about brainstorming in a fun new location, such as outdoors in a park, in a quaint coffee shop, a local bar, or even in an art museum. New areas can help to stimulate the areas of your brain that help with creativity, imagination, and attention. If you can brainstorm in an unfamiliar location (that’s relaxing and quiet enough to think and converse), go for it.
Establish Some Ground Brainstorming Rules
When brainstorming as a team, it’s important to establish some brainstorming rules from the get-go that will encourage active participation and discourage negativity or the immediate dismissal of an idea. Important ground rules that your team should establish upfront include eliminating criticism, adding to others’ ideas, and waiting until the brainstorming session is concluded to evaluate ideas. By setting up these standards for brainstorming, you’ll encourage team members to share all ideas, regardless of how crazy or “out there” they may seem; create constructive participation that’s fun and innovative, and allow your team to speak freely and openly about their ideas without fear of rejection.
If your brainstorming session includes only sticking to “logical” ideas, immediate dismissal of certain ideas, or evaluation of an idea on the spot, it will not be nearly as effective as it could be otherwise. In addition to establishing ground rules, you should also assign a moderator and set time limits.
Many people are visual learners, but even for those who aren’t, using visual means when brainstorming can be extremely effective in generating new ideas. To implement a visual strategy, assign one person to be in charge of creating a mind map, idea board, or list while everyone brainstorms. The mind map/idea board/list should be big enough for everyone to see and should be done in front of the whole group using a whiteboard or large poster board. As more and more ideas are generated, use the whiteboard to connect ideas with arrows or lines, create similar ideas, and make word associations.
In fact, visual word associations can be a fantastic way to brainstorm ideas for creative content. For example, choose a word or concept that resonates with your business goals or purpose. Write the word or phrase in the center of the whiteboard and underline it. Then, ask creative brainstorming team members to shout out the first related words that come to mind when thinking about your chosen word or phrase, and write them down on the whiteboard. Using the generated associated words, try to think of content ideas based on those words.
Act Like Your Customer
Regardless of whether or not you’re a customer of your particular business, you are a customer in life; everyone purchases something. As such, you should have a basic idea of what it feels like to be a customer, and the fundamentals of what a customer’s needs are (to be treated well, a worthwhile product, etc.). However, you might not have any idea – nor may anyone who’s part of your creative brainstorming team – what it’s like to be a customer of your own business or product. Therefore, to get the innovative ideas flowing, one brainstorming tip that you should absolutely take to heart is the idea that should you act like your customer.
To really stimulate some ideas, grab your brainstorming team and for an hour, and encourage them to act like your customers. If you own a software program for children’s online learning, use the software; if you own a restaurant, go to another restaurant and pay attention to what’s working and what’s not; if you are in the business of home repair, visit your website or call your store to see how easy it is to discover relevant information from the customer’s viewpoint. By putting yourself in the customer’s shoes for a day, you’ll have a whole new perspective from which to generate ideas and make suggestions.
After a Creative Brainstorming Experience
Once you and your team have generated a plethora of great ideas, you’ll need to evaluate those ideas to decide which ones require more brainstorming or development, which ones are ready to move forward, and which ones should be thrown out. Depending on your personal management preferences, this can be a team effort or an individual one.