Top Tips on How to Brainstorm Your Way to Winning Content
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By John Alexander Adam
‘Content is King’, right? The coronation of content as the monarch of online marketing has been, while not without a faction of rebels, widely accepted for some time now. Top quality on-trend, educational and well written content is a cornerstone of most companies’ online marketing strategy. But with everyone doing it, how do content marketers keep coming up with innovative, winning content that stands out from the crowd?
Companies put particular effort into marketing targeted at the Middle East, viewed as a lucrative geography where both individuals and companies have stronger buying power than elsewhere in the world. As such, content marketers in the Middle East have as stiff a challenge as any when it comes to coming up with content themes and structures that will not only compete with the competition but stand out.
Brainstorming is one great way of combining creative talent in the pursuit of quality content. After all, if two heads are better than one, three, four or more should have even more potential. However, too fling another old saying into the mix, it is also crucial to avoid a scenario of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. So here are some top tips on effective brainstorming for content marketers in their pursuit of harnessing greater combined potential while carefully avoiding the wrong mix of ingredients leading to a time-wasting disaster:
While the whole point of a brainstorming session is a free flow of ideas, it is also important to maintain the direction of that flow or it can quickly lose focus and go off track. Another danger is not everyone in the group buying into the concept of ‘brainstorming’ and criticizing ideas, leading to a hostile or unproductive atmosphere.
It is always a good idea to appoint a moderator to any brainstorming session who can ensure focus is maintained and the atmosphere supportive, explorative and productive. This should be someone familiar enough with the project who is also able to maintain discipline in a social, non-authoritative manner.
At the outset it is a must to define the desired outcome of the brainstorming session. Even if everyone in the group is familiar with the project, a brief summary helps to focus thought. A few specific and realistic goals can then be set. ‘The best content idea we’ve ever had’, is not an example of a specific, realistic goal. ‘Identify 3 ways we can improve our content’, would be.
The human mind tends to work better under at least a little bit of pressure. Setting a specific time period for the duration of the brainstorming session will help prevent meandering and keep everyone with their eyes on the goal. Exactly how long the time limit should be will vary and very much depends on the particular goal, or scope of the project. However, as a general rule of thumb half an hour is probably a good timeframe for brainstorming and you should try to avoid sessions of over an hour. If the subject matter is bigger and you feel more time is required, you can always split the brainstorming over more than one session or break the group down into separate teams, each addressing different questions.
Whether it is writing on a whiteboard, putting post-its on a wall, or any other technique, getting all the brainstorming ideas in front of the group is a must. It makes sure nothing is forgotten and shows all input is valued. Visual representation of ideas also helps consideration and looking at ideas up there on the wall can help make some stand out as the most impressive or bring their potential weaknesses to mind.
It can often be very useful to include an outsider in any brainstorming session. What constitutes an ‘outsider’, can differ. It could be one person not directly involved in the project. Or, if you are a group of marketing experts, include a programmer, an accountant or a designer. The ‘outsider’ lends a different perspective, can highlight that something may not be as obvious as those ‘inside’ the project think it is, like an end user will experience things, and can help avoid ‘group think’.
There are of course many other tips and guidelines that can help ensure content marketing brainstorming sessions are as effective as possible. If you want to take your content marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East.