Every great piece of content started as a great content idea. Ergo, the more ideas you have, the more likely you are to produce a steady stream of content. It’s not rocket science, but it is somewhat surprising that most marketing organizations haven’t placed a greater emphasis on content idea generation.
Think of all the standards and best practices developed by marketers over the years. Think of all the data we’ve gathered and the experiments we’ve concocted. It seems like we have a plan for everything except idea generation. Speaking from personal experience, each time I ask the question—how do you generate content ideas?—I get a different answer.
The research supports my observations. According to a 2015 report by Kapost, more than half of all marketers said they didn’t have enough ideas to fuel their content operations. Other notable findings:
- Marketers said they needed roughly 67 ideas per quarter to be successful
- Two-thirds of marketers said they don’t have a good process for gathering ideas
- 39% of marketers said it was difficult to come up with ideas on a regular basis
The problem is obvious, but what’s the solution? While every brand is different, there are some best practices that all marketing departments can adopt to generate ideas on a more consistent basis…
#1. Crowdsource Content Ideas
When content ideation is left to a limited number of people, one of two things will eventually happen. They will either run out of ideas, or the ideas they come up with will become stale and repetitive. Usually, both. The more people you have contributing ideas (and ideally, writing content), the more likely you are to maintain a steady pace of content that is diverse in terms of topic, tone, and perspective.
Instead of relying solely on one or two people, expand the roster of idea generators to get a fresh perspective. You can do this by regularly assigning this task to co-workers or by asking people from outside your organization (aka building a content community).
#2. Share Your Content Calendar
The more people who know about your content plans, the more likely they are to suggest new ideas that fit into the chosen themes. Back in the day, this was how large publications operated. They set an editorial calendar (i.e., themes for the next month or the next issue) and solicited pitches from freelance writers and journalists that aligned accordingly. Without this, it’s far more likely that those who contribute ideas will miss the mark. The more direction you can give, the more effective your idea-generation process will become.
#3. Monitor Your Sources & Keywords
Have you set up Google alerts (or a similar tool) to monitor new content related to your space or keywords? By doing so, you not only keep your thumb on the pulse of your industry, you give yourself yet another opportunity to find new content ideas. You’ll find stories that your brand can put its own unique spin on or relate to another topic. You’ll also get a glimpse into how other publications generate ideas and what types of content resonate with you.
#4. Monitor Your Competitors
The battle for market share begins with content. To compete for customers, you must first compete for the attention of a particular audience. This means your content must be more appealing, more engaging, and more frequent than that of your competitors. By monitoring the content of your rivals, you’ll be able to generate ideas that dive deeper into certain topics, cast a wider net in terms of audience, or engage potential prospects in a more effective way.
The success of your content marketing operations ultimately rests on your ability to generate new and compelling ideas on a consistent basis.