12 May 2015

10 Content Ideation Techniques to Harness Your Creative Genius

There is a creative genius that lives inside all of us. Sometimes this genius gets lost –but nevertheless—it’s there waiting to be unleashed. Brainstorming original topics to produce content for week after week is challenging enough and creative blocks become inevitable– even for the most seasoned professionals. We have all been a victim of creative burnout at one point or another. These 10 tools and techniques are not only helpful for shaking things up on your blog, but they help lay the foundation for more creative landing pages and other forms of content.

1. Start by going back to the basics

When we hit a creative wall, it’s easy to over-analyze a particular topic and lose site of our content goals. Take a step back and ask, is your goal to:

  • Increase conversions?
  • Answer customer/client questions?
  • Create brand awareness?
  • Drive traffic?

Prioritize your goals to identify how your content is currently supporting your objectives, and recognize areas you are falling short. Ideally, your content should touch on all of these goals, whether your content consists of landing pages, blog articles or product pages. The idea is to incorporate a balance of information, education, and entertainment for your readers. By assessing these things, you are able to quickly spot the direction your content needs to go in order to fulfill this balance.

2. Poll Your Audience

How often do we reach out to our clients and ask them what they want? The answer is: probably not as often as we should—if ever. Send your subscribers a quiz or see what kinds of questions are being asked in the comments section of your blog. Ask straightforward questions to get the answers you need. Your audience holds the key to awesome, untapped ideas—for free—so take advantage of that.

3. Timely Content

Have you checked news sites lately to see what’s happening in your industry? Keeping one ear on the media with tools like Mention and Google Alerts helps you stay up-to-date. These tools automatically send out alerts when any of the specified terms are in the news or mentioned on social sites.

Including timely posts in your content publishing mix makes your clients feel in-touch and well informed. Upcoming industry events or workshops are always a great topic that attracts a wide audience. If you come across an awesome local event or niche tradeshow, keep track of those. Document any idea that comes to mind. Even if the idea is not useful for the time being, later on down the road, it might become more relevant.

4. Topsy

Topsy is a great tool for taking a birds-eye view of a particular topic on Twitter. See who’s tweeting about your industry and sharing links, videos, and photos. Narrow down the time range to see results for the last year or the last week. Topsy also provides a list of influencers in an industry and shows all mentions of the desired search term.

TOPSY business leadership search results

5. Site Search

If you are looking to create more fun, shareable content, doing a site search is great for seeing what’s on some of your favorite sites. One of my favorite go-to sites for entertainment is Buzzfeed. Search the entire site by putting Site: www.buzzfeed.com  “search term” and Google will pull all instances of that search term on Buzzfeed’s website.  This is a technique to try if you are looking to create content for branding purposes and not necessarily answering client questions.

6. Slideshare

Slideshare is another place to find information from individuals and organizations on a variety of topics. They have several umbrella topics like technology, business, and leadership with slideshow presentations from industry leaders. There is a ton of information to dig through to spark new ideas.

7. Competitor Blogs

See what your competitors are talking about. This seems pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget to do this. Check out their blog, product pages, FAQ pages, search boxes. Stay one step ahead and know what your competitors are talking about—and then do it better.

8. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is another great tool for finding key influencers in any industry. Not only does this tool show industry influencers and their social profiles, but it also includes metrics for social shares of any particular piece of content. You can see exactly which pieces are performing in any given niche, which is pretty much a gold mine for ideation. They also have a new feature that shows all trending content in the last 24 hours. Use these tools to generate new topics.

Buzzsumo trending content

9. Internal Resources

Customer service, sales, and account management teams are interacting with clients and customers on a daily basis. They have a wealth of knowledge about what kinds of questions are being asked and what pain points customers are having. Reach out to individuals on these teams and produce content that alleviates these pain points and answers pressing questions from your clients. Keep a shared document for teams to contribute questions they are asked frequently. Then use this information to create topics for a variety of content formats.

10.  Think Out of the Box

Look for opportunities to create content that might not be directly related to your products or services. In other words, think about if you were a customer, what other types of websites would you visit? What questions would you ask? For example: If you are a children’s apparel company, think about questions your target audience would ask. Your target customers are mothers of small children, so think about topics that might interest them like:

  • What kinds of children’s activities are in the area?
  • Which restaurants are best for kids?
  • How do I save for my child’s college fund?

These are not questions directly related to children’s apparel, but they speak to your target audience. They answer questions that your target audience might have and by capturing them with answers that live on your site, you’ve already won.

Do More of What Works

If all of these strategies still leave you at a loss for ideas, then keep it simple. If your website has several list structured Q&A posts and you find that those generate the most traffic, then publish more of those. Look at your top performing content, determine why it’s performing so well, and think about ways to expand upon this content. Add a part two follow up post or turn a shorter post into a thorough guide. Do more of what works for your business.

These are just a few techniques to help pull you out of a rut and harness your inner creative superstar. Keep your content relevant for your audience and address their needs above everything else. Generate new ideas by assessing your current content and use these 10 tools to spark creativity.

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1 Comment

  • Sebastian May 18, 2015

    This is a great list for inspiration when one gets stuck on what to write about. Looking at the competition is something I think more people could take advantage of.

    I saved this article so I can pull it out and review it again in the future…this info will never go stale.