Obsessively persistent. That’s how you have to be if you want to deliver good content marketing results. It’s definitely not good enough to throw up a half-rate blog post once a month. You have to be the steady drum-beat of content in your industry. So unless you want to get stuck repurposing old content for marginal returns, you’ll need a stream of new content topics to keep things fresh.
“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” — John Maynard Keynes
At Fractl, I’ve worked with clients to develop editorial calendars that contain slots for 50, 60, even 100 different articles over the course of the year.
To fulfill an SOW of that size, you need to generate and produce content topics en masse. Good content marketers thrive on new ideas, so coming up with fresh content topics is one of the most fun parts of working in content marketing for me. But even so, several months into a client engagement — and after multiple rounds of ideation — it can sometimes feel like the well of topics is about to run dry.
The problem is usually myopia. We get fatigued, or bored, and we unintentionally limit ourselves by thinking too closely to the client’s product or service. Let me give you a real-world example:
One client, a student loan refinancing company, wanted 60 new blog posts this year. So we did some keyword research analysis to identify topics that they weren’t currently ranking for, and developed content around those topics. This got us to 40 articles but it was still 20 shy of what we needed. So we ran an ideation session to fill in the gaps.
This type of ideation can be really tough. The client had been doing some content generation on their own prior to engaging us, and all the student loan-related topics we could think of had been done on the client’s site already. Loan refinancing how-to articles, articles to target long-tail keywords, how-to guides…the low-hanging fruit was picked clean, and the higher branches were looking pretty bare, too. But we were still on the hook for 20 more ideas.
The way we solved that was to realize we were overly limiting ourselves when it came to the subject matter. Instead of racking our brains with the question “what are more topics related to student loans?” we realized that we could tap into a whole lot more ideas by asking ourselves:
“What other topics can this client speak credibly about?”
In other words, what would be believable coming from a student loan company? This opened up a firehose of new topics for us. Now instead of limiting ourselves to student loans, we were able to tackle stuff like personal finance apps, credit card spending, cryptocurrency, even the emojis people use to send each other money on Venmo.
It’s a subtle difference, but it opens up a lot more topics that readers might find interesting. And it provides a 10X boost in terms of outreach opportunities. You might have a limited set of press contacts who cover the student loan space, but with a broader set of topics, you could reach out to more mainstream publications. That gives you the chance to get featured with headlines like this one:
“Millennials say Venmo is replacing credit cards, according to student loan company…”
Not only can this style of ideation inspire content that increases brand awareness in completely new verticals, it’s more fun too. And I think it’s obvious that brands can be more magnetic and attract more customers if it’s clear they are having fun with their brand voice and content.
- For your content strategy to work well, you need lots of ideas
- At some point, you’ll feel like you’re running out of ideas
- That’s because you are. Don’t panic.
- Prepare for this by asking yourself “what other topics can this brand speak credibly about?”
- Don’t be afraid to produce content that’s tangentially-related to the brand.
Tom Dehnel is a Digital Marketing Producer based in West Palm Beach, Florida.