Ever leave a brainstorming session more confused than when you went in? Follow these guidelines and your next content marketing brainstorms will be more productive than ever.
We’ve already told you that you need a content marketing strategy. “Yes…what’s that again?” you might ask. Your content marketing strategy includes blogging, creating videos and infographics, and sharing eBooks and case studies. This strategy is imperative for nailing your 2017 and 2018 online presence.
But, how do you create a content creation strategy?
Today, we’ll take a deep dive into the process of brainstorming topics for your content marketing. An unstructured brainstorm session can often result in either an unproductive meeting with no tangible results, or a stunt in your team’s creative thinking. To avoid these outcomes, follow these guidelines and use your brainstorming time wisely.
Research broad topics
Before sitting down with your team, check out your competitors’ websites and social media. What are they talking about? What broad subjects and keywords are they using? If your competitors rank well in SEO for certain topics and keywords, you should too.
Invite team members
Have your broad topics ready? It’s time to schedule the brainstorm session! This session should be one of two options:
- 30-min content standup — Schedule a short meeting, knowing it will likely result in only 15-20 minutes of productivity. Choose this option if you need to kick off a few projects to supplement your content marketing strategy.
- 1-hour content brainstorm — Schedule a more formal meeting if you need to develop significant topics ideas. If you have a lot of people at the meeting, split into smaller groups of four to five. Keep the smaller groups together for the first half of the meeting, then regroup with the whole team to share ideas and dive deeper.
Let the ideation be limitless — no budget, no timeline! If you could do anything at all, what would it be? You’ll need to address budget, timeline and other parameters eventually, but not now. After you get a bunch of wild ideas, you can narrow them down and begin to determine scope later. Now is the time for thinking big.
No, setting some parameters will not limit the content brainstorming session. Instead, guidelines will help prevent your team from experiencing “brainstorm block,” as we call it — when there are too many possibilities.
Share the broad topics you researched with your team and then brainstorm specific subjects within each of those creative buckets. If you’ve got an audience full of excited, chatty members, put a sticky note on the whiteboard with a simple reminder for everyone to stay on track.
What if other awesome ideas come out of your brainstorm session? Great! Add them to the “parking lot”— ideas that you can’t flesh out now, but don’t want to forget. This is your long-term idea list!
Brainstorm from topics to titles
To ensure you aren’t brainstorming repeat content, use the following order to narrow down specific topics:
You can use several titles per specific topic — for example, if you come up with the blog post “Five Ways to Quickly Improve Your Marketing,” you can generate more based off that title, like “How to Improve Your Inbound Marketing Right Now” and “Five Marketing Tactics That Actually Work.”
If you have a large group, setting some guidelines will help you effectively use your time to generate solid results. But, the most important component to a content strategy brainstorm is missing from this list.
To get results, make sure you establish an environment that encourages everyone to be creative and share their ideas.
Don’t ask people to brainstorm in the middle of a huge project when everyone is stressed. They won’t be present or ready to let their minds flow. Start with a simple exercise — like a word association — to get everyone’s minds off of their current task list and into a more creative space. Remember, people need a certain environment to be creative and it usually isn’t restricted, pressure-filled or stressful — figure out what gets your team’s creative juices flowing and make it happen!
Also, instead of saying, “Eh, I don’t know. What about…”, after a team member speaks, try “Yes, and…” Don’t use should, use could. It opens up a world of possibility and doesn’t shut your team members down. Use your language carefully to include everyone’s ideas — you’re not competitors, you’re working together!
Have questions? Contact us so we can help with your content marketing strategy!