Goals This Month

How Dueling Ideas Can Drive Your Editorial Calendar

Internet branding guru Larry Kim says that great content ideas often hide at the crossroads between what a brand does or offers and what the target audience is interested in. Strong blog ideation involves finding that intersection and figuring out how to create content around it. Asking questions such as “What does yarn have to do with the latest pressure cooking trend?” or “How can the zombie apocalypse sell seltzer water?” leads to compelling intersection content that engages, converts, and convinces more people to share. Learn more about what that means for your editorial calendar in the following content:

Larry Kim’s Inverted Unicorn Method

Kim used this concept of intersecting interests to drive a low-budget Facebook ad campaign test. He started with $400 in ad budget and ended up with more than 1,300 likes, 235 shares, 68 comments, and a Facebook Relevance Score of 7/10 in about two weeks. All from a test ad that he created using two arbitrarily selected audiences. You can read more about his test over at Wordstream.

Kim calls it the Inverted Unicorn Method and says it “makes ads more interesting by appealing to two or more of a user’s different interests.”

Brands can use the same principles to create niche content that’s more attractive to consumers. A florist doesn’t just have to blog about the care and delivery of flowers — a large swath of the target audience is simply not that interested in flowers as a singular topic. Instead, a florist might gain traction with blogs such as “What You Just Said with the Flowers You Sent Her” and “Protocol for Memorializing a Loved One with Greenery.”

Intersection ideation takes that a few steps further with blog posts such as:

  • 7 Ways to an Early Spring in your Living Space (targets those interested in home decor)
  • Is Your Bouquet a Natural Medicine Cabinet? (targets those interested in holistic living)
  • 5 Ways to Turn Old Sports Equipment into Viable Vases (targets sports fans and DIYers)

The best intersection (or niche) content marketing doesn’t just force a secondary idea into the fold for the sake of higher views or comments.

Your audience can sense that kind of fakery, and they will not approve. Instead, follow the tips below for the best results with niche content.

  • Include two concepts that are truly interesting or important for a subsection of your audience. If you don’t know what else your audience is into, you haven’t done enough marketing homework.
  • Integrate those concepts in as natural a way as possible. Don’t shove a trending topic into a blog post just to ride some SEO waves.
  • Ensure content is written by someone able to speak appropriately about both topics. If you’re incorporating the latest season of Stranger Things, work with a writer who has seen the show (even better, a writer who is a fan of the show).
  • Never incorporate content misaligned with your brand, no matter how popular it might be with segments of your audience. It’s not worth boosting engagement with part if you lose the whole in the process.

Tips for Brainstorming Content at the Cross Roads

So, how do you come up with ideas that resonate with niche segments in your audience? Whether you’re going solo with content management or working with a marketing team, playing a few brainstorming games helps you connect the dots between seemingly unrelated concepts.

Start with the Consumer

Put your marketing research to work on this exercise:

  1. Take out a piece of paper (or a whiteboard) and write a word or phrase describing your product. Underline or circle it. That’s your starting point: your target audience is interested in or needs this thing.
  2. What other things might interest large sections (if not all) of your audience? Remember that during brainstorming, no thought is too small, big, tangential, or silly to write down. Write as many things as you can think of in a few minutes.
  3. Consider each item. Ask, “How can this item, coupled with my product, be used in a blog post?”
  4. Write topic ideas down on a separate page or board and use the best ones on your editorial calendar.

You don’t have to start with your product or service; you can start with something you know is relevant to a large portion of your audience. A homeschool supply company knows much of its target audience is parents, for example, which makes parenting tips an obvious topic of interest. Many of today’s parents grew up in the 1980s and are nostalgic for that time; the homeschool brand might create a series of posts tying parenting tips to iconic 80s movies.

Blind Mix and Match

Brands that aren’t sure where to start or marketing teams that have hit creative walls can come up with great ideas by using index cards and pens.

  1. Write words or phrases about your brand, products, services, or customers on cards. Set those cards aside.
  2. Write phrases to describe current events, popular topics, and anything that seems related to your audience on another set of cards.
  3. Shuffle both sets of cards separately and lay them face down on a table.
  4. Choose one card from each stack and challenge the team (or yourself) to come up with a blog topic that incorporates both for your editorial calendar.

Seasonal Topic Surfing

Trending and seasonal topics are always fair game for intersection marketing as long as you connect to them in a relevant way. Consider:

  • Television shows, movies, games, or books that are premiering or trending
  • Current events and newsworthy moments (typically best to stick with those that are apolitical)
  • Holidays and observation days, weeks, or months (such as National Heart Month or National Ice Cream Day)
  • Topics related to the season, such as back to school, snow days, and warm weather activities

Final Thoughts on Ideation for Your Editorial Calendar

Intersection ideation lets you bring new life to your blog and your brand, capturing (or recapturing) the interest of your target audience. Remember to track content performance as you try out various topics so you can capitalize on what works in the future.


Sarah StasikEditor’s note: This post is by nDash community member Sarah Stasik. In her own words, “since 2011, I’ve called freelance writing and editing my full-time job. Before that, I was a manager in Revenue Cycle Management for a national company, and I’ve got plenty of hands-on experience in office management, medical billing, and RCM.” To learn more about Sarah, or to have her write for your brand, check out her nDash profile page.