It’s time to come up with the next big idea.
You know, the one that sets your brand up for unbridled success. The one that blows away the competition. The one that wins you big business, big recognition, big authority.
No pressure, though.
That’s the thing with brainstorming … sometimes the storm feels more like a drizzle. Especially when you’re faced with developing enough compelling ideas to fill an empty editorial calendar or marketing plan.
Need help sparking the next big idea for your content marketing?
Here are some of our favorite brainstorming tips and tactics:
Mix up your team. “We’ve found that putting people together for article brainstorming who write for clients in completely different verticals can be an excellent way of introducing some fresh thinking. Your tech writers might not be too familiar with the hot topics and recurring themes in health care, but the questions they ask might be just the stimulus that your health writers need to come up with some truly original article ideas.” – Adam Barber of Castleford Media via Search Engine Journal
Define the problem, not the solution. “While everyone gets an opportunity to think creatively during a brainstorming session, there should be a practical purpose for your gathering, or else you may end up going nowhere. When the conversation strays, remind everyone about the problem you’re trying to solve, and keep working toward that objective.” – Richard Branson for Virgin – Entrepreneur
Compile more than just a few ideas. “Don’t jump into deep discussion on the first few ideas. The idea here is to amass a big list of ideas. They won’t all be big winners, but sometimes, crazy ideas lead to great things.” – Yvonne Lyons for Right Source Marketing
Resist the urge to reinvent the wheel. “Content marketers often waste time by starting from scratch with a blank screen, rather than looking for models they can use as the basis of their current project. Save time planning your next content marketing project by looking for examples of what’s worked in the past.” – Roger C. Parker for Content Marketing Institute
Keep writing materials on hand. “You always need something to record your thoughts. If you wait and think you will remember later, too late.” – Tim Jones of Cybrix via Inc.
Cube it out. “In [the brainstorming strategy Cubing], a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints, hence the name. Describe the topic (what is it?), compare it (what is it like or unlike?), associate it (what does it make you think of?), analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?), apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?). – Mark Nichol via DailyWritingTips
Encourage uniform participation within a group. “[Brain writing is a strategy] designed to generate lots and lots of ideas in a short amount of time. … Hand out sheets with space for a topic or keyword at the top of the page and space where ideas can be written. It can be a different topic for each person or the same for everyone. Write ideas. Pass the sheet to the next person, who adds more ideas, using the existing ideas to build off where possible. Keep going until you’re done.” – Kaila Strong for Social Media Today
Change perspectives. “Imagine being someone else—such as how your biggest competitor would think about the problem or a completely unrelated industry would think about the problem. How would a 5-year-old solve your problem? What would Picasso do?” – Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends LLC, via OPEN Forum
Mind map it. “Create a mind map – a constellation of main topics and subtopics or of related points – on a large sheet of paper, a whiteboard, or another surface that all participants can see, or simply list suggestions in roster form.” – Mark Nichol via DailyWritingTips
Try brainswarming. “To start brainswarming, write the goal or problem you need to achieve or solve on a big piece of paper and have your team sit silently and write down different ways to tackle it with your company’s resources in mind. Once the right resources are found, you’ve come up with your solution.” – Dr. Tony McCaffrey for Harvard Business Review via 99U
Allow for the incubation of further ideas. “If you’ve had a productive session, ideas will continue to occur to people for hours or days after the session. Ask everyone to write down these ideas and submit them later to record along with the main session notes.” – Dean Rieck for Copyblogger
Remember, just like in the exercise of writing, editing should be saved until the end. Don’t censor your creativity during the brainstorming process – let the ideas flow and save the red pen for later.
What are your favorite brainstorming tips and techniques? Add them to the comments below, or join the conversation on Google+!
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