How to make your blog posts as popular as a hit record

Popular as a hit record

One of the biggest roadblocks content marketers face is developing original, relevant and engaging content – content that people actually want to read and most importantly share with associates. Just like song writers, everyone wants their content (song) to be a hit and reach the number one spot on the charts.

According to CMI’s 2015 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research study, creating engaging content is the number one challenge faced by content marketers (60% of respondents). That’s followed very closely (57%) by producing content consistently. Make it good and do it often is the goal!

Cultivate’s recent Milwaukee Area Content Marketing Survey showed a similar pattern: 52% of respondents say they have trouble producing content consistently, while 45% say producing engaging content is their number two challenge.

Who would have thought!? Creating good content is hard work and most people simply don’t have time between everyday meetings and putting out fires to produce engaging content. People can only stare at a blank computer screen so long in hopes of churning out something alluring to read or view.

“Me-too” content is no longer good enough to command attention and connect with the reader. What’s needed are unique, creative approaches, delivered on a consistent, ongoing basis. Sound impossible? Here are seven brainstorming techniques designed to generate content ideas that will break through the noise and command attention:

1. Create a swipe file of remarkable article and blog post headlines

As you do your daily reading, watch out for eye-catching headlines and story concepts. Make a note of them in a paper or online file. Soon, you’ll have a list of inspiring examples that you can adapt to your needs. Another way you can do this is to visually scan a magazine rack in a bookstore. What headlines jump out at you? Make notes of them, and then brainstorm ways to adapt them to your content needs.

Read The Onion and National Enquirer for headlines, and then tone the theme back to your reality. Headlines that get readers to think “WTF??” can be very effective.

2. Challenge a key assumption in your industry or profession by asking, “What if?”

This simple question helps you to imagine different possibilities that are outside of your habitual ways of thinking and the commonly-accepted industry or professional “rules.” For example:

  • “What if our audience viewed us as a trusted publisher, not as a firm that’s always trying to sell them something?”
  • “What if we could predict our audience’s needs with a high degree of precision, and then deliver the information they needed, just in time?”
  • “What if we could get wild monkeys to fly out of our pockets?”

Start repeating “what if” as you walk around the office and something will come to you.

3. Use the “board of directors” creativity technique

Force yourself to think about your audience’s problems or challenges from unique perspectives. One way to do this is to create an imaginary “board of directors.” These people can be anyone, living or dead, famous or obscure, real or imaginary. Your goal is to leverage their unique thinking styles to help you see things differently.

For example, how would Steve Jobs create amazing content? Richard Branson? Gandhi? Gumby? Captain Kirk? Dilbert? Martin Luther King? Imagine you’re standing in front of them; picture in rich detail the answers they would give you.

3. Do a Google search – but with a twist

As you type your query, watch the suggestions that appear. These are similar queries that other people have already made. Some will be unusual and intriguing. Use them as stepping stones to unique content ideas. By the way, this method really does work, especially after a glass or two of Cabernet.

4. What do you wish your audience knew?

Make a list of the knowledge gaps or incorrect assumptions that your audience seems to have. Remember, not all of them are rocket scientists and look to your content to help them figure things out. What’s routine to you may be amazing to them. Brainstorm ways to help them understand each of these topics correctly and completely.

5. Perform a PEST analysis on your profession or industry

PEST analysis is a valuable tool for understanding the external macro-environment in which your business operates. It can help you better understand the range of trends, influences and forces that may represent either threats or opportunities to your audience.

PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. Brainstorm around the mega-trends that are occurring in each area. Explore each one in depth. How can you help your audience capitalize upon these trends in their early stages?

6. Use an online idea generation tool to brainstorm unique content ideas

Our brains are rich “association engines” – they love to connect ideas and concepts together. Brainstorming tools like Free the Genie leverage this capability by presenting you with random stimuli to get your creative juices flowing.

7. Attribute listing

Divide your audience’s problem or challenge into its attributes. Once you’ve done this you can think about each element separately. Think of ways to address each one in the form of content.

It’s time to get creative

If you’re committed to creating original, relevant and engaging content that your target audience finds interesting enough to spend time reading why not give one or more of these techniques a test drive? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

5 Ways to Come Up with Fresh, New Content Marketing Ideas

content marketing ideas

We have a confession

Whipping up fresh, new content marketing ideas? Sometimes it’s HARD.
(Yes, even for us super-duper creative types!)

It’s true. We’ve been in the content marketing biz for years, yet there are still times when we get stuck coming up with new ideas. It’s one thing to write a blog post title, but coming up with great content marketing that sells? That’s a whole other ballgame.

Every piece of content must be created with purpose and meaning—so coming up with the best content marketing ideas is KEY.

We’re going to let you in on our content marketing topic creation secrets—just some of the creative tactics we use to consistently win over the competition. Let’s get started.

#1. We Join Conversations

If you’re not using social media to build community and learn more about your target audience, you’re underutilizing it. Here’s how to use social to find great content marketing ideas:

  • Participate in Twitter Chats

  • You’ll meet a lot of people, and trust us, they ALL have something to say. Listen and engage accordingly. Oftentimes, after just a little social listening, content marketing ideas will furiously flow. Learn these Twitter Chat basics to make the most of your Twitter time.
     

  • Join Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn

    Facebook Groups tend to be more personable than LinkedIn Groups, which naturally lean toward business. Try both to learn more about where your target audience hangs out most. (Hint: It really depends on your market.) Observe conversations in these groups for trends and build relationships with members. You’ll gain tons of great content marketing ideas and insights.

  •  

  • Follow Influencers in your Target Industry

    Who are the influencers in your target market? They’re the people who (in some shape or form) have power (and thus, influence) over others. When they talk, people listen. Identify who the top influencers are in your industry and observe what they’re posting about on social media. See: Post Planner’s Quick Ways to Find Top Influencers on Twitter.

#2. We Slow Down & Look Around

Great content marketing ideas are everywhere! …but we often get too caught up in our busy lives to open our eyes and see what’s right in front of us. When you actually sit down, breathe, and take a moment to see and feel what’s around you, you just might find that inspiration has been sitting near your coffee or by that photo of your children the whole time. Take a look around you and try to see everyday objects in a new light. You’ll be surprised what sparks a fire inside the content marketing machine within you.

#3. We Read, the Old Fashioned Way

We love reading articles online just as much as the next guy, but nothing beats reading ‘the old fashioned way’ to drum up more content marketing ideas. Make it your mission to pop open a new book at least once a month. If you don’t have time to read the entire thing, skip through and take notes on what you like. Choose popular books that resonate with your industry and audience. These books don’t even need to be new. Check out Amazon or eBay for deals on dated reading materials and see what older content marketing ideas you put a modern spin on.

#4. We Keep Scrapbooks, Idea Boxes and Image Stashes

Since you’re now in the habit of being more observant (after reading secret #2 and secret #3), we encourage you invest in a scrapbook or grab an old shoebox to use as an ‘idea’ box. Fill your book or box with anything you find interesting that you pick up along the way. It might be an intricately designed brochure, a paper coaster from your favorite local pub, or even an old movie ticket. When you’re feeling ‘stuck,’ pull out your box or book.

  • Bonus: As noted here on Rewire Me, collecting things we love is good for our brains and our lives. Doing so can help “build observational skills, improve organizational thinking, awaken a desire for knowledge, inspire creativity” and more. Neat.

#5. We Use Awesome Tools for Guidance

We also rely on a bunch of great tools when we’re brainstorming up our next great content marketing ideas. A few we use include:

  1. BuzzSumo – Quickly and easily research and monitor trending topics.
  2. Google Trends – Find out how often a search term is entered in relation to total search volume.
  3. Quora – Search questions to find your target audience’s specific problems. How can your products, services, or company provide the answers they seek?

You don’t need to go crazy racking your brain for fresh content marketing ideas. Inspiration is right around you (and often free of charge). Coming up with great content marketing ideas on the fly starts with being more observant. You might just be amazed at what you’ll discover!

 
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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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