3 unexpected sources for content ideas

Content, content and more content! You’d think that after a few years of content marketing you’d run out of ideas. We’ve found the opposite is true.

We actually have more ideas as every day passes. One of the tricks is to find sources of inspiration, and the more unexpected the source the better. Here are three to get you started.

The magazine stand

In an on-demand world, what’s news today is often irrelevant tomorrow. Blogs, social networks and industry news sites can react to events and trends as they happen. Is it any wonder the future of print looks bleak?

Still, there are a handful magazines that have shown they have staying power, and marketing teams can learn a lot from them. Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, People and Sports Illustrated have all maintained paid circulation bases of more than three million subscribers. That’s huge in a world that largely believes “print is dead” (source, paid circulation data for consumer magazines).

What are these magazines doing right? They each have a very specific audience and they write exactly what that audience wants to read. Because let’s be honest, you’re either the type of person who picks up Good Housekeeping or you’re not.

They also write about evergreen topics that hit home. Content for print magazines is written months ahead of their publication date, and this content can’t be stale by the time the latest issue hits the stands. Same goes for your marketing copy.

Finally, they use solid, informative headlines that aren’t meant to mislead. Yes, we get how and why clickbait works. But it also annoys, because it’s often misleading. Who among us strives to annoy our target audience? We didn’t think so.

Over (virtual) cocktails

It makes sense to find inspiration in industry-specific LinkedIn and Facebook groups, or by following the big thought leaders on Twitter. But don’t overlook your friends’ personal feeds. If your social network is wide, many of your online friends and acquaintances are bound to overlap with the audience you’re trying to reach. And we know they’re smart, savvy consumers.

Listen closely to what those friends are saying, and you’ll pick up plenty of tips on what works and what to avoid in your marketing copy. For example, we’ve learned that our friends are completely over people “reaching out” just to “touch base.” Don’t even get them started on “leveraging” that “value-add.” These are just a handful of phrases we try to avoid, now that we know their power to annoy.

And if social networking isn’t your thing, listen over real cocktails. Or scotch. Or simply coffee. The same principles apply regardless of your drink of choice.

Your front-line staff

We all want to write copy that engages and entices our ideal customers or clients. That’s the job, and we love what we do. But how often are we writing the copy we think our customers and clients want to hear? Have we checked by conducting extensive surveys or focus groups? These are both good ideas, by the way, but maybe a bit time consuming for every project.

Instead, have a conversation with your front-line staff. Your receptionists, call centre staff, sales team or anyone who has daily contact with customers. Ask your staff what questions they’re hearing over and over again, and write content that answers those questions. Or put something together that addresses common complaints or highlights what your customers love about working with you.

Learn to look at employees in every department as potential sources of inspiration, and start writing.

Need more help generating fresh content ideas? You can reach us at 416.925.1700 or info@ext-marketing.com.