Content creation is the process of conjuring up material. Somehow. Some way. When you’re in a constant state of production, you need a constant stream of ideas. Where will those ideas come from, and—maybe more crucial—how do you keep your ideas fresh?As a content marketer in the AV technology industry, staleness is a wolf my teammates and I stare down every darn day. If you’ve ever felt your flow of ideas shut off completely, you’ll come across advice like “sleep on it” or “go for a run” to inspire ideas. As a marketer, you don’t have that luxury. It’s your job to have ideas—like a cook has to make meals for the diners at the restaurant. They can’t just say they’re not feeling inspired. They just do it.
When you find ideas hard to come by, here are some tips to help you through those dry spells:
- Visit industry websites. I log onto audiovisual sites just for the heck of it but especially when creating content calendars. What’s in the news? What events are coming up and what happened at recent ones? If you’re in AV, there are several information sites, as well as non-profit ones like InfoComm’s. Such a search usually generates several ideas.
- Google something. Search for almost anything related to your work. You’ll see news results, blog posts, and images that include infographics and the like. This works great for minor writer’s block—where you just need a nudge to break the dam.
- Ask a customer or someone in the industry. A quick call or email may reveal some fresh insights. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when we’re stuck in our own heads.
- Conduct a poll on Twitter. Twitter lets you create a poll as a tweet. Add a relevant hashtag like #AVTweeps then write about your results.
- Make a random throw at the dartboard. Grab an industry publication and start listing ideas based on the first page you open. Or try “I’m Feeling Lucky” in Google search. (You'll have to turn off instant predictions in your Google settings.)
- The news. Sometimes stories about your topic or industry will pop up on news sites or other publications. They’ll often take a different angle than those you read regularly.
- Refute something. Think of an annoying or common misperception in your field. Or it could be your company has a different view of where your industry is or should be headed. Sometimes writing something with a little bit of an edge is enough to spark a whole slew of ideas.
- Make a list. “Top 10 Best Uses for….” “The 9 Easiest Ways to….” If your list doesn’t work as a content piece, one of your ideas might.
- Make a prediction. This is fun and opens the door to future posts or pieces. If you make a prediction for the year, you can check in mid-year and then end of year and see where you were right and where you were not so right.
- What’s the best move your reader could make right now? Is there a purchase a customer should get in on, or is there a training an industry professional should take to keep up? Answering questions like these is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader.
- Profile someone. Not only can you use your question-and-answer session as a fun content piece, but their answer should provide you with some future ideas.
- Look through old content. There are a few ways you can squeeze some ideas out of this activity. You can rework an old piece by updating an old stat and providing new insights. You can address what’s changed over the years. You can analyze how the industry got from there to here.
- Ask a colleague or a friend or even your mom. Even if they don’t have a clue about your work or what they’re talking about, such a conversation is likely to trigger an idea. Fresh perspectives are always great ways to generate content ideas.
- Post a question to strangers. Websites like Quora let you post questions that anyone can answer. It may be a good way to get insight into why people choose alternative products or what kinds of new products they wish for.
- Check your social media streams. See what’s trending. Check relevant hashtags and follow relevant accounts. For example, if you’re interested in tech or AV marketing, you could follow related accounts (shameless plug alert) like ours, @Pivotslc on Twitter.
If you want to know more about how Pivot creates content for our tech and audiovisual clients, feel free to send us a note here.
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