From blogs and e-books to widespread content marketing campaigns, we’re all familiar with the importance of generating fresh, inspired content that’s on brand and of value.
Coming up with ideas is just the beginning of this often lengthy process, yet burnout at this stage is common. 47% of marketers don’t have a formal structure in place to manage the planning, creation and delivery of new content. As a result, producing a seamless flow of engaging content that benefits your business can be a significant drain on time and resources.
Regardless of your industry, there’s limitless potential to come up with great content ideas that work for you and your brand. More often than not, the key is refining the process of idea generation and assuming a fresh perspective. With that in mind, here are a few ways to produce content ideas that are both unique and effective.
What defines ‘great content’?
Content comes in many different forms, however, the most effective tends to adopt the same few traits:
– Gives genuine value to its target audience
– Offers something fresh and unique – either in topic or perspective
– Aligns closely with your existing brand identity
Actively engage in competitor research
Often one of the best ways to better understand your own content strategy is to analyse that of your closest competitors. What are they doing well that you could improve upon? And where are the most significant content gaps that your own website has the ability to fill?
Effective competitor analysis takes many forms and can cover everything from keyword ranking comparisons to in-depth audits of past campaigns and on-page content. Directly mimicking the content put out by your competitors will do little for your brand or SEO strategy, yet building and improving on what’s already out there can be a great starting point when ideas are running low.
Embrace opportunities to co-work
Working as part of a team gives you the opportunity to bounce ideas off your co-workers, so it’s vital to embrace the potential for activities like brainstorming sessions. Encouraging members of the team to share inspirational content they’ve found elsewhere on the web – or even just throw a few topics that interest them into the hat – can also allow you to step away from your own creative block and see idea generation from a completely different perspective.
Keep a log of inspiration
It can be all too easy to push any thoughts of idea generation to the back of your mind until the pressure is on at the end of the month. Even if your business model requires you to only spend a specified amount of time on brainstorming content ideas, however, it can be hugely beneficial to make even a brief note of inspiration as and when it strikes.
Everything from reading industry-related articles to having an interesting discussion with a colleague over the water filter has the potential to spark inspiration. Storing these thoughts in one place will ensure that you already have a pool of ideas to draw from when it’s time to come up with something new. Known within the industry as a ‘swipe file’, there are countless apps and plugins that encourage users to save inspiring web content in one place, and even go as far as suggesting other content relevant to your niche. Pocket and Pinterest are great places to start.
Better communicate with your audience
Opening the lines of communication between brand and audience is one of the best ways to ensure the content you produce is not only works from a business perspective but also meets the more specific needs of your audience. There are many ways to do this, from utilising your email database to keeping an eye on what’s trending elsewhere with users that fit your target demographic. Surveys and feedback questionnaires can go far in establishing common needs that your audience share – which may just prove an effective launchpad to build your own branded content ideas from.
– Before you start generating ideas for your content strategy, first establish who you’re creating the content for. Building audience personas can really add focus to your brainstorming process and guide you in the right direction from the off.
– Don’t spend time trying to force an idea that doesn’t feel right. Keep an open mind when it comes to fresh ideas and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone if that’s what’s needed to ensure you stay one step ahead of your competition.
– Utilise the audience that your brand has already built. Keeping the lines of communication open is not only helpful with regard to generating fresh content ideas but can help to build loyal relationships with past consumers.
While every content strategy is likely to take a slightly different approach to idea generation, there’s no denying that it’s a pivotal part of the process.