Are you overwhelmed with constantly brainstorming new content ideas? Most leading food brands have a research and development (R and D) department. These R and D specialists spend hours trying to figure out the next best product that consumers will love. It takes months, maybe even years, or experimenting and testing with focus groups. This is probably the motivation behind Lay’s annual “Do Us a Flavor” competition; having customers suggest and sample possible flavors makes finding new products much easier.
A content creator is the R and D officer for a brand. Consistently creating fresh content that your audience will love is challenging. It isn’t enough to throw it into the hands of the customers (although this is a strategy that has worked for many brands). Here are 10 ways you can up your R and D game and produce content that resonates.
10 Ways to Brainstorm Content Ideas
Read the Latest Industry News
What are the latest things happening in your industry that are creating a buzz? How does your brand fit in with the latest trends? People who are interested in your industry want answers to these questions. These topics are great content ideas.
You can only provide these answers if you’re keeping abreast with industry news. Subscribe to industry blogs and magazines. Watch the news. Spend less time scrolling on social media and more time following what’s happening in the industry.
Here are some of the best magazines blogs and newsletters to follow in the life coaching business:
- International Coaching News
- Life Coaching Press
- Life Coach Training Institute
- International Coach Federation
Verbal conversations unearth new ideas and build relationships. Recently, a magazine creator and editor we know had a conversation with one of the entrepreneurs she was featuring. Her magazine focuses on helping readers start a business in her home country. This entrepreneur highlighted how difficult it is for locals to find everything they need to successfully start a business.
Eureka! The editor instantly came up with a series of videos that could simplify the process and attract more readers. That conversation helped her identify a real need and create a content solution to fill the gap.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the insight you glean from face-to-face and telephone conversations with customers. Viewing and responding to social media comments is great but nothing beats that personalized conversation.
Leverage Social Media
It isn’t realistic to assume that you can have verbal conversations with everyone interested in your brand. Sure, your life coaching business thrives on the personalization that your small team offers. Client consultations also provide perfect opportunities for you to learn more about what your direct customers want to learn.
However, there is a sea of potential clients that you are trying to reach daily. You need to know the right content to produce for them so that they will be guided through your sales funnel and become paying customers. Some possible ways to get this information include:
- Posting a poll on your social media pages
- Viewing the conversations on your posts
- Identifying the posts that get the most engagement
- Responding to private messages that followers send
- Asking probing questions to stimulate further discussion on an active post
Sometimes it isn’t worthwhile teaching an old dog new tricks. Some of the content you posted months ago can be repurposed and posted as new content. There are many ways to repurpose content. Some possibilities include:
- Transforming popular blog articles into podcasts. Chandan Kumar describes how to convert an article into a podcast in this article.
- Combining popular posts on the same topic to create a pillar page. For instance, the Virtual A team posted an article entitled, “How to Cultivate Your Network on LinkedIn”. This article could segue into a series of articles on cultivating a network on each type of social media platform. All of these articles can be combined to create a pillar page like this. It could be called, “The Ultimate Guide for Growing Your Network on Social Media”.
- Expand on the points made in a list-style article to create individual posts. For instance, this list-style article from Virtual A Team identifies 6 virtual services that can be outsourced. An article can be created to further describe each item on the list.
- Create a SlideShare post on LinkedIn. It would be unwise for a life coach to not have a LinkedIn profile. This social media site for professionals is a great way to meet potential clients. Slide Share is a Power-Point style post unique to Linked In that allows users to succinctly share information on important concepts.
- Create an infographic. People are highly visual and hardly have time to read large blocks of text. Infographics summarize blogs in a highly visual, easily digestible, way.
- Add up-to-date content to an existing post and repost it. This works best when at least 3 months have passed since the post was published.
Repurposing old content saves you from having to come up with new ideas.
Plan a Team Brainstorming Session
You may be blessed to work with a small but capable team. Even if you aren’t, there is a group of people who you turn to for advice. Arrange a content ideas brainst
orming meeting with your team or core group.
Apply caution, however, because a brainstorming session can go off track. Some tips for having an effective brainstorming session include:
- Determine the problem question you’re trying to answer. A possible question is, “What type of content can we use to retain high-value customers?” Everyone should be aware of this question at least a week before the meeting so that they can come with fresh ideas.
- Lay some ground rules. There should be some structure so that each person has an equal opportunity to share an opinion. Respect is paramount; no one should feel stupid for sharing an idea. This doesn’t mean that clear bad ideas shouldn’t be respectfully squashed. You don’t want to spend too much time discussing bad ideas.
- Appoint a facilitator. This doesn’t necessarily have to be you. However, you do need someone who will guide the discussion.
- Choose the right location. You may choose to have a virtual or in-person brainstorming session. If you choose a virtual session, ensure that everyone has a good internet connection and good sound equipment.
- Keep the meeting short. It doesn’t need to be more than 30 minutes.
- Determine whether an in-person meeting is necessary. Sometimes it may be more feasible to get ideas through anonymous submissions or electronically through live software such as Google Docs.
Pay Attention to Your Competitors
Waging war against your competitors can be counterproductive. Oftentimes, your competitors can teach you valuable lessons and be great for collaborations or partnerships. Visit your competitor’s social media pages and website and answer the following questions:
- What is this brand doing well?
- What is this brand not so good at?
- Is it possible for your brand to collaborate with this brand to create new content?
- What distinguishes my brand from this one?
- Which posts do well on this brand’s platform? What special features does the post have that makes it do well?
- What type of content are the top brands in your niche writing?
Look at Topics from Another Angle
Writer’s block can be a real issue especially when you’ve been churning out a high volume of articles consistently covering the same theme. For instance, you may be selling a unique life planner that you’ve designed. You’ve already written 3 articles about the benefits of life planners and feel like you have exhausted the topic.
It helps to break the topic down to its bare bones and then working your way up from there. Let’s look at the life planner example. Instead of focusing on a life planner, it may help to look at the broader topic of life goals. What content ideas can you create with this broad topic? How can you incorporate your life planner into these new articles?
Create Buyer Personas
Understanding who your buyers are is really the first step for creating good content. It helps to be highly specific about the groups of buyers you are trying to target and what each group needs. Focusing solely on a broad target audience won’t provide this detailed perspective. This article sheds more light on this important point.
For instance, you may be a life coach who focuses on women with newborns. Within that group, however, there are many subgroups. Some possible groups are:
- New mothers who have a child with a disability
- Female executives struggling to balance motherhood with corporate life
- Female entrepreneurs with newborns
- New mothers considering furthering their education
...the list is endless.
It’s imperative for you to identify your preferred sub-niches and think about the type of content that would appeal to them. A female executive who has a newborn will have different needs and interests from a female entrepreneur with a newborn. Sure there are some commonalities but there also are some stark differences.
Quora is the leading question and answer site where people can ask any question and get answers. It’s a great way to see the types of questions people in your industry are asking. You can answer the questions on Quora and include links to content on your website that further elaborates. This helps build the backlinks to your site.
You could also answer these questions directly on your website. Doing this allows you to provide an even more extensive answer to the question. It helps position you as an expert in the field.
Use Social Media Discussion Groups
Each social media site has a community of users with similar interests. LinkedIn has LinkedIn groups, Facebook has Facebook Groups, Instagram has community hashtags and the list continues. Find a group that relates to your industry and become an active member.
Just like Quora, you’ll see the questions people are asking. You’ll also see the content that interests them and the content they post on their own websites. Essentially, these discussion groups are a gold mine of information.
Some of the top LinkedIn groups for life coaches include:
- International Coach Federation
- International Coaching Network
- Professional Life Coaches Network
- Coaching Zone
- Find a Coach
The I-N-K Strategy for Identifying High-Quality Content
Searching for content ideas is one thing. Ensuring that you consistently post high-quality content based on these ideas is another. The I-N-K strategy can help you determine if the content you’ve created is high value.
It helps to get a second opinion on the content you create before you post it. A key question to ask the observer is, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does this pique your interest?” Although this is just one opinion, it helps you gauge how your audience may respond to the post. Feel free to get more than one opinion if you can.
N- Nail It
The feedback will help you refine and improve the content. You want to hit the nail on the head and keep your audience intrigued. Get it right at least 80% of the time and you’ll have a loyal lifelong following.
K- Keep Up
Each post provides an opportunity to identify what really interests your audience. Pay keen attention to how your followers and website visitors respond to each post. Their responses, or lack thereof, speak volumes. Keep up with their demands and you’ll consistently produce the right content.
You may be the sole content creator for your business. The task may not be as simple as experienced content creators make it seem. The pressure is high to regularly produce content that your audience will love and it’s often difficult to come up with fresh ideas.
We’ve shown you how to find fresh content ideas. With this knowledge, you can create solid content marketing plans that help you win new customers and retain high-value customers. It’ll take some work but the effort is ultimately worthwhile.
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