For many organizations, the biggest challenge of sustaining a successful inbound marketing strategy is consistently publishing fresh, relevant content. Many marketers come out of the gate strong and fast when their inbound marketing strategy is initially launched. They have a plethora of ideas that yield a consistent supply of new blog articles, eBooks and white papers.
At some point, though, they seem to “hit the wall.” Life happens. The tyranny of the urgent gets in the way of what’s truly important. Instead of creating content to prime the lead generation pump, their days become consumed with putting out the latest fire and dealing with everyday business. Publishing a couple of new pieces of content per week evolves into publishing one new piece of content every couple of weeks or even months. The publishing gap grows longer and longer until eventually it stops all together. We’ve all seen websites and Twitter profiles that appear to be abandoned. When that occurs my first thought is “I wonder if this company is still in business?” Certainly, not the best first impression you want to make with a new prospect.
Writing, creating, and publishing content falls lower and lower on our to-do lists as we struggle to develop new ideas and topics. When the idea well seems to have run dry, brainstorming can help replenish the reservoir and jump start the publishing process. Below are a few ideas to maximize your brainstorming process.
1. Diversity of Perspective.
Include as many different points-of-view in your brainstorming process as possible. Limiting participants to those that have common job functions, backgrounds, and tenure will confine the flow of ideas and inhibit fresh perspectives. Invite representatives from marketing, sales, operations and finance to share their ideas. Also, include a mix of entry level, middle management, and C-suite personnel. Everyone has a unique perspective that only they can bring to table. More viewpoints will lead to more ideas.
2. Prime the Pump.
To avoid that awkward start of the meeting where everyone is staring blankly at each other, have some questions for the group to get the conversation started. Ask their opinions on industry-related topics, problems their clients are facing, or recent announcements from competitors. One question that seems to work for just about every organization is, “What are the most common questions we are hearing from our clients/prospects?”
3. Ideas Will Grow in the Right Environment.
At this stage of content development, there truly is no such thing as a bad idea. No judging allowed. Record every idea, even those that illicit eye rolls and giggles. Write them where everyone can see them. Even a questionable response may spawn three or four great ideas. Don’t be afraid to allow a “pregnant pause” in the discussion. Silence can be your friend. If it’s quiet, it just means that ideas are percolating.
In-person brainstorm sessions are great, but in today’s business environment it can be a challenge to get everyone gathered in the same place and at the same time. Leverage technology to facilitate a virtual brainstorm meeting. This can be done via email, chat, or even a group text. Full calendars and busy schedules shouldn’t be an excuse for a dearth of content ideas.