Every business faces unique roadblocks when coming up with ideas for content. The strategies that work for your team may not work for your content marketing peers at other organizations.
But, regardless of your industry or unique corporate structure, there are several steps in the ideation process that every content marketer needs to tackle.
The most important? Ensuring there’s always a place for great ideas to be submitted, considered, transitioned into production, then turned into applicable content.
Don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed if you’re having trouble creating a seamless flow of ideas. Most marketers are in a similar position.
To help you visualize an ideation strategy, I’ve compiled a list of different idea-generating strategies real content marketers employ. I encourage you to pick and choose as you see fit.
Buffer: Debate, Consensus, Action
When trying to come up with ideas for content, Belle Beth Cooper talks about coming to a consensus as a group and some common pitfalls to avoid. In this model, decision makers spend time alone thinking about ideas, forming their own vision for the content, and then sharing those ideas with fellow decision makers.
Once this stakeholder group convenes, it is time to debate and vet ideas internally to make sure the best ones stick. Sometimes, the discussion generates better ideas from the original kernel proposed.
Once topics are selected, it’s time to act on them as quickly as possible by assigning roles and responsibilities. This fast-paced strategy keeps creative inspiration alive, and capitalizes on the energy of the brainstorm versus putting ideas aside to be created by someone else at a later date (which might never happen).
Jonathan Mildenhall, Coke’s VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Content Excellence has talked about how content marketers need to be comfortable with a little bit of chaos. Even if they have an established method of ideating and brainstorming for potential content ideas, everyone needs to keep an open mind and be flexible as ideas come across the table for consideration. This ensures that content remains fresh and relevant to target audiences, and avoids wasting time on old news, played-out concepts, or stale topics.
Autodesk: User-Generated Content
Instead of relying solely on internal resources for content ideas, Autodesk uses user-generated content from their community. By having specific editorial goals and standards in their content marketing plan, Autodesk can essentially put out a call for a certain type of content, or just cherry pick from the best artistic concepts that bubble up from their community.
Another great way to source content ideas is to tap into the creative energy of other departments. Sales, for example, might have some great ideas for content that will help them sell better.
Fractl: Campaign Alignment
Kelsey Libert, Director of Promotions at Fractl talks about how some of the most successful content marketers don’t let one-off ideas separate too far from their core campaign-based strategies. Ideas are vetted based on how unique they are and how closely they align with the objectives of a campaign. This makes the ideation feedback loop tighter and more efficient over time.
Kapost: Combining Tactics
Because each business is different, methods can be tweaked or combined to fit the needs of your organization. For example, Kapost relies on consensus, flexibility, and campaign alignment.
We start with a content campaign-based strategy for generating ideas. First, important themes and topics are established for the quarter. Then, content pillars (large content assets) that support those topics are brainstormed, debated, and decided upon. From there, ideas for smaller assets are assessed based on their alignment with the campaign. We also keep an eye on trending topics and news, which can be written and published quickly to leverage the popularity of timely topics.
Take a look at your team and your organization’s structure. How can concepts transition from ideas to completed assets? What roadblocks do you currently face, and how can the above strategies help you remove them?
And remember, process is often a work in progress. The best way to find what works for your organization is to test new strategies, then tweak and refine as you go along.