In our previous blogs we’ve covered how to use content to populate your marketing funnel, how to research your content plan, and how to plan a content ideation session. Now, we look at how to run a successful content ideation session, encourage open discussion, and finish with the beginnings of a content calendar.
The aim of the Content Ideation Session is to exchange ideas. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad idea. Allow ideas to flow during your session and ensure that everyone has a chance to have their say.
Consider having a chairperson/someone to prompt quieter people and stop more outgoing characters (or more senior attendees) dominating the session. You may want to let various team members chair different parts of the meeting, as they report back on their part of the research process.
The aim is to break down hierarchy and ensure everyone has their say. All ideas are worthy, but some voices are harder to hear than others. Why not consider letting the most junior person in the room “chair” the meeting? You might be surprised by how well this works out.
Allow half an hour to talk through your current marketing situation and objectives. This is a chance to make sure everyone is clear on where you are and where you want to be – and how they can contribute to this.
Consider having your objectives displayed large and easily viewable so you can keep referring to them throughout the session.
Hopefully, you already have a bank of previous content that has been pulled during the research stage. Get this out on the table and consider what worked, what didn’t, what can be reworked, and what can be used to spark further ideas or spin-off content.
Be ruthless – if you find your training manual dull then no amount of fancy design work is going to help repackage it for a web audience. However, look for golden nuggets – maybe one chapter out of 20 holds some audience traction.
Remember, there will be plenty of quick wins to be gained from this. Before you know it you will have some tried and tested ideas ready to slot into your content calendar.
OK, it’s a calendar. We all have notable dates or seasons we can slot into this – Christmas, Easter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day etc. The list goes on.
Every product or service has something they can tap into here, so zoom in on the easy ones.
For example, a chocolatier will want Valentine’s Day content, perhaps with a message about the recipe for love.
A company offering accountancy software might want to home in on the April 5 tax year-end, or the various deadlines for filing accounts.
A company making Santa suits…. well, you get the picture!
This is a powerful exercise as it truly gets you off the starting grid and will give the team momentum.
You already have a host of great ideas. Get the marketing funnel up on a flipchart and start populating it with your ideas on post-its.
Get everyone involved. Get people moving around the room. Why not use multiple flipcharts, each one showing various parts of the funnel. Then, let the team decide what content ideas belong where. This is great for reinvigorating minds, and will bring some social interaction to the meeting. More importantly, it shows you where the gaps are in your marketing funnel, at a glance. These are the critical areas you now need to focus on. Let’s complete the funnel.
You are already a long way on your content ideation journey, so now is the time to ramp up the creativity levels a gear:
Think fast – have a 15-minute brain dump. Get everyone to write down as many ideas as they can on a piece of paper.
Ask for the worst idea possible – Watch as your team then competes to deliver the worst idea possible. Suddenly, everyone is ready to share new ideas. You already have the worst idea so everything from this point on will be amazing.
Be the brand - If your product is portable bring it to the table, let the team explore what it is you are trying to promote. We understand that your product range may run to the 100s or even the 1000s, so focus in on flagship products. The idea is to get the team truly in touch with what you offer. Ask the team to consider what role the product or service would play in their lives. How would they use it? Consider the five Ws of journalism to start to build out stories.
Play – Yes, play. If your product is not portable or is something more intangible, then why not recreate it… using Lego or Play-Doh.
Be visual – Bring in images of the product or service in action and talk through what is happening in these images.
Bring in the buyer personas – During your research and planning stage you mapped out who your key personas were. Bring each one to life with on-screen images, then ask the team what they think this person wants to learn or discover about the product you are selling - the product that they are looking at, holding (or modelling out of Play-Doh).
Make sure you have a way to record ideas as they come up throughout the session. Use flipcharts, take photos, and have a method for collating all the ideas together at the end of the session. You’ll need these for the final stage in your content ideation journey.
You may want an on-screen Excel worksheet that you can populate as the session goes on. This will also let the team see the progress they are making and the gaps still left to fill.
Again, as with the chairperson, get various people involved in populating this as the session moves forward. This is a team effort so get everyone involved.
Now, you are ready to start populating your content calendar. More on that next time.
This post is adapted and abridged from our FREE eBook – The Best Practice Guide to Content Ideation.
Download your copy now to learn best practice advice on how to use content to improve the quantity and quality of traffic and leads to your website.