by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Blogging, Communication, Make It Happen TipsheetTagged as: Content Marketing, Copywriting, Creativity, Digital Strategy, Productivity
Have you ever spent time staring at your blank screen, wondering what your next blog post should be about, then staring at the clock, stressing about the looming deadline. While it’s tempting to think of this problem as writer’s block, it is really a question of process gone wrong. (Or rather, gone missing.)
Idea seeding can help. It is a process for content idea generation that is both relevant, and efficient. While this technique won’t work if you’re writing literature or a movie, it will work for almost every professional blog. Here’s the formula:
1) Choose a seed idea. This is usually stated as a challenge that your target audience may face.
Example: We need to become more profitable.
2) Brainstorm five ways to solve that problem, and recast the seed as a headline and blog outline. (And then write the post.)
Example headline and outline: Five ways to improve profitability
1) Increase the number of sales
2) Increase price per unit
3) Reduce overhead expenses
4) Cross-sell related services and products
5) Reduce the cost of sales
This one idea seed has generated one blog post, that simply needs some fleshing out.
3) Explore each concept in detail. Take one of the Five ways, and write about the item in greater depth.
Example: Write a step-by-step blog post specifically on how to increase the price per unit.
Doing this for each of the Five ways will generate five in-depth blog posts.
4) Generate more seeds. Alternatively, each of these Five ways can be used as a new “seed” for another cycle of posts.
Example seed ideas:
1) Three ways sales pros can increase their sales volume.
2) Six pitfalls when raising your prices.
3) The four most overlooked overhead line items – and how to move this cash to the bottom line.
4) When cross-selling goes wrong: five customer service recovery techniques.
5) The three keys to using CRM to cut the cost of sales.
Each seed sprouts an idea with many flowers, which then generate more seeds for even more posts. From this one example alone, there are 22 additional blog posts. No writer’s block here.
5) Diversify across media. Many of these same ideas can also be re-cast in multiple formats: infographics, podcasts, and videos to name a few. Using the idea seed of raising prices but executing it using video yields the following additional video-based content ideas:
While this technique is great if you have the right seed, where can you find that first idea seed? Here are five places to start:
1) Ask your prospects, clients, members, and friends of your organization for their toughest challenges. The answer to each challenge is both a blog seed, and the subject of a coffee or lunch meeting.
2) Ask for ideas from the public social web: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, as well as your blog.
3) Review LinkedIn groups that focus on one of your target audiences. Look for questions that aren’t answered fully to your satisfaction, and take these as seeds. Answer the questions fully within LinkedIn, and then edit your answers into a blog post.
4) Ask during your real-world events. If you deliver webinars, workshops, or keynote presentations, this is highly effective. If you don’t speak often, the technique works just as well during regular networking events. Not only will the seed ideas be relevant, but you will have a ready audience for your answers.
5) Market research: If you are asking your target audience a series of questions anyway, why not tack on a few questions that might generate idea seed ideas?
Look through your existing blog posts: how many qualify as great idea seeds? Choose a few, and then build your list of great topics. You’ll never look at a blank screen again.
Marketing Insight: Did you notice that the last part of this blog contained five ideas? Is it possible that each of these is an idea seed for another blog post? (Yes.) Check back on my next blog post, and see how I handle the topic of Market research. Hint – I contrast Traditional market research with two very different approaches: Do it yourself, and Agile crowdsourcing.
Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group. (More presentation topics)
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