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How to create an ‘ideas engine’ for your content

Andy16th November 2020

86% of marketers tell us that ‘coming up with new ideas’ is their biggest challenge when it comes to content marketing.

One of the biggest barriers to great content marketing is the amount of time that it takes to come up with content and having done content marketing ourselves for many years, we get it. It’s tough being relentlessly creative on a daily basis.

But that right there is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make when it comes to content marketing. It’s expected that the marketing team are the ones that ‘own’ the ideas for content. In fact, it should be the other way around. Marketing teams should be the ones curating these ideas, not necessarily the ones creating them.

The reality is, for most businesses, marketing teams are one of the most distant from customers. Marketing teams rely on good feedback loops from the rest of the business to define communication plans. This is the part that is often lacking.

These content ideas are locked inside the heads of your customer-facing teams like sales, customer support or leadership teams, and we need to create an ‘ideas engine’ to help us as a marketing team to unlock them.

Great content is the result of brilliant ideas and the best ideas are the result of a wider input from a broader team.

In order to do this, you need a structure around how you curate all of this inspiration.

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Empowerment

The first part of this is to empower the wider organisation to start contributing their ideas. This is one of the most challenging parts because it involves behaviour change. And behaviour change is hard.

Generally, people like to contribute, but people are also busy and don’t like yet another new thing. That means the simpler you can make this process, the better. For example, in ‘Contributions’ from ContentCal, we’ve created it so that people don't need to login or sign up to anything in order to share their ideas. With ContentCal Contributions, all they need is a link.

Want to learn more about our new Contributions feature? Take a look here.

Clarity

The second part of this is about being clear about what you want input and ideas on. Asking people to come up with ideas in general is challenging as it’s too broad and trying to think broadly is hard. Creativity best flourishes within boundaries.

Make sure you have an underlying objective for what you want input on. That could be a customer quote you need for a newsletter, suggestions for ideas of a way to communicate a new product launch or asking the customer service team to share frequently asked questions from customers.

This is why we created the ability to create ‘Contribution Forms’ in ContentCal. This allows you to collect ideas for a specific purpose. This will help get those ideas from the team flowing nicely.

Structure

Having an ‘ideas engine’ is not just about input from a wider team, it's about being able to collect ideas and inspiration wherever they strike. Having a structure and process to organise ideas and inspiration is critical to this part.

There's three ways of doing this:

  1. Using the ContentCal ‘Web Clipper’. Anytime you stumble across an interesting article or something that's relevant, you can go ahead and just press the ContentCal button in Google Chrome and automatically save it to your Content Library. Essentially you are putting a metaphorical ‘pin’ in the idea to allow you to come back to that later.

  2. Secondly, you can use the ContentCal ‘Mobile Web Clipper’. If you are inspired by anything whilst you're browsing on your phone; this may be an article, or something someone sent you in an email. You can simply share that into ContentCal and once again take those ideas at their source and add them in your Content Library to come back to later.

  3. The third approach to this is by connecting ContentCal with other tools that you use day to day for team communication. This might be Slack or Microsoft Teams, for example. Whilst chatting with your team online, you might come up with a really interesting idea. We want to ensure that this idea does not get forgotten and we capture this at the source. This is really important when working remotely.

We don’t want to have to make all content ideas follow a regimented process, we want to collect them organically. Let's say you are having a conversation on Slack with a team member and you come up with something that could be a great idea for your content plan. You can simply ‘save’ the message on Slack and it will then automatically send that to your Content Library on ContentCal.

Creating a content 'funnel'

Through these three steps of ‘Empowerment’, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Structure’ you’ll have the beginnings of your content ‘funnel’. This will enable you to centralise ideation and inspiration into one location whilst giving your wider team simple opportunities to contribute.

Once you have these ideas centralised in one place, the marketing team can focus on what they are the best at: curating ideas and aligning them with a communications plan. With this, you’ll truly have a constantly regenerating engine for your content ideas, ultimately speeding up the content creation process and ensuring content is of the best possible quality.

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Note: Come along to a free social media strategy session where we'll give you inspiration, tool recommendations, and general advice that'll help you get started.


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