Published on 8th Jun, 2015 in Content Marketing
How to Brainstorm Content: 6 Tips to Catalyze Ideas
Are you a content writer? If you are, then, we’re offering you a high-five, up top! Why? Because writing content is hard work. Beyond that, if you are writing for the same client consistently, you’re going to need to be able to come up with unique content, whether it’s on landing pages, blogs, email newsletters, or anything else. But if you’re a content writer and a content marketer, you’re also going to have to make sure that your content can be easily found. What does that mean? Having a great strategy for search engine optimization (SEO). But even with a great strategy, it’s hard to constantly be coming up with fresh ideas for the same client and their same target keywords again and again.
So, what can you do? Simple, you brainstorm. Or, is it simple? That’s just the thing. In order to be competitive and create truly good content that is going to have great SEO and result in a fantastic ROI for your client, you’re going to need to become an expert at brainstorming. That’s where Marketing Zen comes in. If you know us, you know our content, social media, and search teams are always working together. That means that our brainstorming abilities are out of this world. We’re going to go over our 6 tips to catalyze the best brainstorming session you’ve ever had (over and over again).
Use Your KeywordsWe put this tip first because it may seem obvious but…we just couldn’t help ourselves. It really is crucial when brainstorming to take into account the target keywords that your team has found highly optimized so that you can incorporate them into new topics. Select a good number of keywords to work with.
What’s that you say? You already do this? That’s good, but you need to go one step further. Since you want your content to be optimized for search engines, then we highly suggest you incorporate those search engines into your brainstorming research. For this example, we’re going to use Google.
Let’s say that you’re doing research for a blog about Weddings. You have no idea what to write about but you know that some of the keywords your search team provided are: “how to prep for my wedding,” “cheap wedding,” “wedding prep,” “save money on wedding.”
Let’s bring those into Google and use suggested search. If we type in the words “how to prep for my wedding” and then add a space, Google assumes the other topics I’m looking for are more specifically preparing for my wedding day, or my wedding night—two topics that may yield very different results, depending on how we angle the post.
If we scroll to the bottom of the page, we see Google’s suggested search which shows related searches:
Here you can see that some other keywords we may rope into our post and its topic are “checklist” or “gifts.” Spark any ideas? Continue with this process until you have a couple blog post topics. Then take them and type those into the search engine. Are you getting good results? Then, your suspicions are confirmed. Get writing! (But consider these other tips first.)
Use Your CustomersYour customers are always a good place to start when brainstorming. Or, in the case of Marketing Zen, since we’re an agency, it’s the customers of our clients. When brainstorming ideas for good content, you are going to want to know what your customers will be engaged with.
Credit: Help Scout (www.helpscout.net)
A good place to start is with what customers are engaged with is social media. Hop on to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or whichever social media platform seems to be the most popular with your audience, and look at what people are talking about. More importantly, focus on what your customers are feeling about what they’re sharing. What problems are they experiencing? Client feedback is extremely important, so it’s important to take what they share and use it; feel free to reach out to a client whose activity on social media raises questions that you can help answer.
Once you have a good idea of the topics that your customers are talking about online, take things one step further and confirm their engagement by checking out the keywords on Google like we showed you above.
Use Your Team
Since we mentioned seeing what your customers are up to on social media, we figured we’d let you know that our best-kept secret to brain storming is our very own social media team. Go to your social media team and ask them what they’re doing to engage with customers. What kind of questions are they asking? What kind of posts on certain platforms are the most effective and why? Ask to take a look at how your own social media strategy has changed for a customer over time and then ask the social media team to show you why they made these changes and how they were implemented.
When you’re really stuck while brainstorming, knowing how the gears work inside your social media’s wheelhouse will be extremely helpful. You know that phrase “wealth of knowledge”? Well, your social media team should be considered a crown jewels (times one hundred) of knowledge.
What’s the Competition Writing?
Your customers are important, sure, but if you’re going to get a leg up on your competition, then—you should check out the competition. What kinds of content are competing companies writing? How are their customers responding? Is their content being viewed and shared often by many people?
If your competition has a lot of blog content on their site, it may even be smart to check back by a year or two and see how they’ve been changing things. Look at the headlines of their blogs. Do they look like they have changed? If so, how? Remember, with Google releasing new algorithms, there is always an opportunity to adapt to optimize for search according to the changes.
Use Another Venue
This seems like the simplest of all tips, but sometimes all you really need to jumpstart your brain is a change of scenery. For some teams, it may be as simple as taking a walk. Or maybe you move your brainstorming session to a park or a nearby coffee shop. Sometimes the inspiration for new ideas comes from new places. We often spend so much time online that we take for granted how great it is to communicate with person face-to-face in a setting.
Write It Down
Brainstorming sessions can be extremely helpful and you should absolutely make them a habit with your team. But really if we’re being honest, we can’t all be idea machines all of the time. That’s why we suggest that if you think of an idea when you’re doing something completely unrelated to work (which, if you’re us and really attached to your work, may be more often than not), write it down. Don’t say “you’ll remember is later,” because if you don’t, you may be disappointed. Instead, write it down in a notebook or your phone—even email it to yourself if you need to, but get down the idea. Then, later on when you’re brainstorming and no one has much to bring to the table to get started, bring up your idea.