Content ideation turns the trends and topics on buyers’ minds into impactful stories that capture their imagination. This is where you turn your understanding of buyer needs and preferences into sketches of the stories you should tell and how to tell them. That includes not just the words you use, but the images and formats you employ to breathe life into the story.
Your content ideation blends your brand’s campaign goals, messaging and buyer needs to develop engaging, buyer-focused content. You might use ideation to align to a particular audience, a solution group or even to address a stage of the buyer’s journey. Whether you use ideation to develop a comprehensive campaign or to bridge gaps in your content library, it’s a productive step toward focusing your attention on the best ideas to connect with buyers. In the end, you’re likely to emerge with a bounty of content ideas to convey your message to the right buyers at the right time.
Here are seven things to know before your next ideation session.
Know Your Target Audience
You might tell the same story to a CFO and a customer service representative, but you’d tell it in two very different ways that take into account what they need, how they think and what they care about. To make your content story relevant to your audience, you must know who they are. Personas are one path to understanding your target, but there are other options. Even things as simple as their job titles and roles are helpful indicators of what they do on a typical workday and what their biggest challenges might be.
Know Your Demand Type
Your demand type can serve as a helpful guide when you’re exploring unique storytelling approaches or trying to nail the right tone. Will readers recognize what you offer right away, or do they need to learn some basics before they recognize a need? Mature products with lots of competitors may not need lengthy explanations about the solution; instead, you focus on the benefits they’ll access by selecting yours. You can—and probably should—be more creative to capture their attention. If it’s a brand-new concept or technology, you’ll take a different tack and may decide to deliver more straightforward information.
Know Your Messaging
Messaging is what connects your buyers to the story you’re telling with content. Wrap your head around buyers’ challenges, buying triggers and priorities to see what matters most to them. Develop keystone messaging that speaks in language that resonates with your buyer. This foundational messaging embodies their goals and their mindset. Only with clear messaging can you ideate targeted content assets that will engage your prospects and align with the goals and challenges that are top of mind for them at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Know Their Content Preferences
As you begin to image the storytelling possibilities for each of your content ideas, it helps to have insight into the best ways to reach and engage your audience. Are they digitally savvy or slow to adapt to new technologies? Are the likely to access your content on a desktop computer or a mobile device? Do they have time to dig into the details, or are they after a quick overview? The answers to these questions will help you decide whether to invest your time in, say, a video series or a comprehensive white paper. Consult the 2021 Content Preferences Survey from Demand Gen Report for recent data to guide your choices.
Know Your Creative Limits
Some brands and industries are able to let their hair down and push creative limits with quirky themes and pop culture references. Others like financial services and healthcare are typically more constrained. Keep these parameters in mind as you develop your creative themes and decide how far you can comfortably push boundaries.
Know Who You Know
Don’t create content in a vacuum; lean on the experts and resources who can share industry insights, product knowledge or valuable trends. Tap a few key clients to test your ideas. Ask sales teams and customer service reps what’s top of mind for the audiences you’re trying to reach. Poll your social networks or speak to influencers about the trends that are making the biggest impact in your space. This kind of homework pays off by ensuring the content you’re laboring over will resonate with your buyers.
Know How to Push Your Limits
The ideation phase is a great time for no-holds-barred brainstorming. Push the limits to come up with innovative ways to tell your stories and capture attention with interesting narratives or cutting-edge content formats. You’ll have plenty of time to rein in the most “out there” concepts. But get started with a mindset that there are no bad ideas. Put everything on the table to get started and play with what you have before you decide what stays and what goes.
Know Who Can Help
If you need a fresh set of eyes to see the possibilities, Content4Demand can help. Our clients rely on the new perspectives our content strategists bring to in-depth content ideation. We bring creative ideas together with a deep understanding of the formats and channels that work best with B2B audiences at each stage of the buyer’s journey. We make recommendations for the topic ideas and content formats that help your clients communicate the right messages at the right time to establish and deepen relationships with buyers. Get started by speaking with a content strategist.
Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian.