Most great accomplishments begin with a great idea. That may give a distinct edge to the world's certifiable geniuses, but it's likely to drive the rest of us, well, certifiable, especially when it comes to creating fresh, original blog posts and other forms of marketing content. Nothing can cause more frustration and mental agony that ransacking every resource you possess for that insanely great topic idea that's somehow escaped you in scores or hundreds of previous articles. If you're a business owner not in the habit of creating marketing content, you may find this aspect of the process overwhelming; if you're tasked with hammering out tons of client content for a marketing agency, you're probably aghast at the amount of time it's taking you. Here are some smart strategies for more effective ideation.
Ask Yourself What the Reader Needs
Inbound marketing is all about getting your content in front of people in response to their demonstrated needs and interests. You want your brilliant, entertaining article to pop up when a prospective buyer searches online for help with a specific challenge or question. So it's not enough simply to populate the Web with general-purpose explanations of your products and services -- you have to ask yourself, "What is my reader likely to need some help with right now?" For instance, many of you probably reached this article because you had questions or concerns about ideation for your blog posts. (And here we are, examining that specific challenges and its possible solutions. Mission accomplished!) Focusing on specific issues will help you identify focused, relevant ideas to write on.
Expand Your Scope
Sometimes your ideation process actually needs to become less focused to generate fresh results. This was the case when I was ghost-blogging for a company that sold metric screws and bolts. We discovered very quickly that discussing the various features of the products themselves was a fast track to boredom, not to mention the fact that there were a finite number of products to discuss. So I expanded the ideation focus outward to include applications for these different items. What do screws and bolts go into? Boats! Motorcycles and bicycles! Sports cars! Cutting-edge computing devices! Cool stuff that pertains directly to users' everyday needs. (See above.) We even got into the history of screws and bolts, metric versus Imperial measurements and other "fringe" topics that nevertheless fed real-world interests.
A famous comedian once held his audience spellbound for several minutes -- only to say, "I told you that story to tell you this one," at which point he began telling the anecdote that actually contained the joke. Do major news events, customer success stories, famous fables or other existing tales hold the kernel of your next great article? Is it analogous to some specific aspect of what you do? Does it illustrate a point that you want your audience to absorb and respond to? Amazing developments are floating in the air (or on your browser's news feeds) all the time. Grab one and run with it.
Compelling, unusual, specific topics can take your inbound marketing content to a whole new level, whether you're coming up with them yourself or getting help from the experienced creative mind of a professional marketing copywriter. Don't shy away from the challenges of ideation -- conquer them!