how to brainstorm content ideas

Content is the cornerstone to any customer acquisition program. To have a successful program content must engage and inform your buyer to motivate them to purchase. But what are the best ways to come up with fresh, share-worthy and on-strategy ideas for your content?

Here are 3 tips to get started:

Tip #1: Review touchpoints across the journey map for opportunities

One of the best places to start is to explore each of the buyer’s touchpoints. Touchpoints are any of the moments in which a buyer comes into contact with your brand. These touchpoints span across the awareness, consideration and decision stages of their journey with you.

Examples of touchpoints include: hearing about your company (word of mouth), interaction with you on social media, contact with your company at a tradeshow, receiving your blogs each week, reading about you in a trade publication, or engaging with your website by using an ROI calculator on a landing page. All of these examples are distinct interactions a buyer has with your company. If you’re stuck at this point, bring your sales and marketing teams together and ask how your buyer is interacting with your company today offline.

Each of these touchpoints give you the ability to shape and influence how a buyer perceives your brand. Together with your team (and ideally across disciplines) you can start brainstorming about what content can be most impactful for the buyer at that stage.

A few things to consider as you develop your content building blocks:

  • What do you want the buyer to know at this stage?
  • Does the buyer have any challenges at this stage? And if so, what can we do to help?
  • What is the buyer thinking at this stage—and what do we want him/her to be thinking?
  • What kind of information must the buyer know at this stage to continue down the path towards a purchase decision?

Having empathy for what the buyer is thinking/feeling and doing at each stage will help you come up with compelling new ways to provide relevant information to your buyers.

PRO TIP: Look for personalization and data gathering opportunities. Identify any ways you can personalize or collect data when shaping these touchpoints:

Personalization: Based on what you know about an individual (data in your database such as title, interests, previous information they have viewed or downloaded) create a more relevant experience to better fulfill and/or accelerate their journey to purchase.

Data gathering: When possible, gather more information about the buyer to further shape the persona and personalize the experience to better fulfill and/or accelerate their journey to purchase.

Tip #2: Get inspired

Don’t hesitate to use brands and companies outside your industry to give you inspiration. If you feel that coming up with engaging content is difficult for your industry, this can be particularly useful to spur innovative ideas.

Be systematic about how you collect inspiration: Use Evernote, Wunderlist or another content aggregator to start saving examples of content that you believe is fresh, engaging and well executed. Regularly come back to your collection of articles, and ideate on how your company could take a similar angle or approach, given your brand and industry.

You aren’t using other companies’ specific ideas, but you are using their ideas as inspiration to inform the content you create.

Next, think about all the different media your buyer is consuming (as it relates to your brand). It may even help to ask customers or sales people what content they are reading. Consider using an RSS reader to organize all the content you uncover. The benefit of using an RSS reader is that all the content—from websites, digital publications, blogs, etc.—is all pulled to one place. This means instead of having to individually visit dozens of separate websites, you can see all the latest content, all in one place.

It’s a huge time-saver, it keeps you inspired, and it allows you to efficiently know what your buyer is consuming. Not only does it help with content curation, but it will help inspire fresh ideas for your content efforts.

Here are 3 other tools that can be used for further social digging to help spur new ideas:

  1. Quora: As a question and answer site, you’d be surprised just how many sources of inspiration you can find here. Just like with Google Answers, Quora helps to see what people are thinking, and what kind of content they are craving to deal with their challenges or uncertainties.
  2. Google Keyword Planner: Use Google’s tool, or another tool such as Spyfu or SEMRush to do keyword research. What you uncover—combined with what you already know about your buyer—can hopefully inspire you to think of new ways you are equipped to educate and inform them.
  3. Buzzsumo: Using social search, Buzzsumo allows you to search any topic or domain. The search results show the best performing, most shared pieces of content. Not only can you see what’s trending in real-time, but you can look back and even see influencers for certain topics and themes.

PRO TIP: These sources can inspire some unique ideas, but be sure that the content is always focused on helping your buyer achieve his or her goals. It’s not about you—it’s about them. At the same time, the content you eventually produce also needs to be reflective of the underlying value proposition for your company. That’s why your competition could go through the same process and yield different content.

Tip #3: Conduct a content audit

One of the biggest mistakes that brands make is that they forget about the content that they already have—or it’s just not shared across departments so that it can be fully leveraged in the customer acquisition process. This is where you really need to pull in other teams such as sales or your implementation/account managers.

Identify any resources that can support the buyer’s journey. What articles or videos does the sales team send to prospects? Are there specific emails that seem to work well? What is currently being used when meeting face-to-face with prospective buyers?

This should help to uncover materials that can be re-purposed and re-used. It may take a mindset shift to realize that “old” materials can be refreshed and used again.

Once you have an inventory of your available content, ask yourself these questions to determine if and how it could be re-used:

  • Does this support the buyer’s journey? For which touchpoint?
  • How has this content engaged your target audience historically? Have they read it and/or shared it?
  • Would the content help the buyer achieve their goals or overcome their challenges?

PRO TIP: Once you start to add on to your inventory, you’ll see all new ways you can refresh and repurpose existing materials you’ve been using. Remember that quality content that engages your customers and moves them through the buyer’s journey requires resources to produce.

It’s important to consider how each content asset could be leveraged or re-purposed to serve multiple touchpoints across the buyer’s journey.

This is where most companies fall short, but it’s one of the most effective ways you can maximize the ROI on your efforts.

Get the Greatest ROI On Your Content 

Repurposing your content allows you to maximize your highest quality content, and can be especially helpful if you have limited resources. In the infographic below, see examples of how a single piece of content can be repurposed and recycled in multiple ways. Not sure where to begin? Use the decision tree that’s included to help guide you as you leverage the resources you have available in your content creation process.

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