Have you ever produced marketing content that just completely missed the mark? Maybe certain important elements were left out, or it was just kind of…boring? If this resonates with you, it’s time to reassess a vital step in your content strategy by incorporating best practices during your ideation meetings.
Just like any step in your current content marketing strategy, a successful ideation meeting can be one of the greatest tools you can use to generate engaging and successful content. To do this, you must learn how to construct a diverse team, foster a healthy ideation culture, master time management, utilize advanced tools, and much more.
Here are 13 tips that will help you guide your ideation towards success.
Tip 1: Construct a Diverse Team
The best ideation meetings should include individuals with different perspectives, roles, and areas of expertise.
Have you ever been in a situation where your Product department had issues with something your Marketing department published? Or has your Sales department ever complained that a certain item of content lacked the most up-to-date information, such as the features and specs of a new feature? Don’t set yourself, or your content, up to fail by not including them when you ideate new content. Bring everyone to the table.
By convening this inclusive team, you will gain insight into emerging needs and innovative ideas from multiple departments in your company. Even better, this will help your Marketing department get their content right the first time. The fewer edits needed, the easier life will be.
At the beginning, you may need to mediate between these groups with differing viewpoints. However, as ideas flow and conversations evolve, you will find these ideations will produce high-quality, well-rounded content.
Tip 2: Be Aligned with Your Content Marketing Strategy
Do you remember reading the famous (misquoted) line, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there?” While inspirational for Alice, this is in fact, the kiss of death for content creation. This strategy is often referred to as random acts of marketing and will push you in the opposite direction of where you wish to go.
Keep the end goal in sight. Define the intention for your ideation session. Are you creating content for a specific campaign, addressing a current issue within the industry, or seeking to position your company as a proactive and knowledgeable thought leader?
For example, before ideating an item of content, make sure you have identified
- your target audience or intended persona
- the intended delivery channel, such as your website, LinkedIn, or a newsletter
- the desired impact of your content (thought leadership vs. lead-generation), including KPIs
- any derivative content you can produce from this piece
- how it contributes to your overall content marketing strategy
Tip 3: Do Your Research
Come to the ideation team with data, trends, and relevant information the team can use to get ideas flowing. The more they comprehend the background, the stronger their ideas will be rooted in relevance.
If you know the topic before the meeting, it can be helpful to form a basic outline to guide the process. This does not mean you are married to that structure, but it will give the group at least a place to start. Be prepared to scrap it if the group pivots in a different direction or wishes to arrange things differently.
Tip 4: Build a Comfortable Environment
It is vital to project an atmosphere of respect and openness. People need to leave their egos at the door. Ideation should be a place where free expression is praised and where every thought is valued.
Fostering this is largely due to your encouraging but structured feedback during the meeting. Suppose any idea is wildly off base or moving away from your intended content marketing strategy. In that case, you can simply direct the group back to your content objectives (as described in Tip 2) and shelf that idea for “another time” or “later piece” of content.
Tip 5: Master Time Management
Don’t let the clock become your enemy. Set a specific time frame for your session to avoid your discussion from stagnating or wandering off track. Sometimes this can feel naggy or pushy, but in reality, you are managing the group’s productivity and ensuring the ideation session achieves what you want to achieve.
Tip 6: Use a Variety of Techniques
Try different techniques to reshape the group’s thinking, such as using brain dumps, mind maps, role-playing, or “what if” scenarios. Variety will produce diverse ideas and maintain engagement. If some group members seem less engaged, you can encourage their participation by using techniques that require everyone to talk. This way, no one feels called out, but even quiet voices are heard.
Tip 7: Encourage Building on Ideas
Encourage your team to add layers to each other’s ideas. That tiny suggestion might just evolve into your next BIG idea. Layering ideas from multiple individuals in the ideation call who hold different positions is a great strategy to build the best case for your product or service. Your audience’s problems can be complicated, but you can craft your content to show how your solution is a perfect way to make their lives easier on multiple levels.
Tip 8: Focus on Quantity over Quality (Initially)
The purpose of an initial or first ideation is to consider as many different ideas and topics as possible without fretting over the quality. Perfect is the enemy of good here. Later, a writer guided by a brief from a content strategist or marketing manager will perfect them.
What you should keep in mind is: don’t sweat the small stuff and just get pen to paper. Sometimes, the hardest step is beginning, and once a couple of ideas have formed, you can narrow down to a focus for your content and how it can fit into your perfectly crafted content marketing strategy.
Tip 9: Believe in the Power of Silence
It’s not just for the lambs. Ideation doesn’t always mean incessant discussion. In these types of meetings, many ideas are flying around at once. Sometimes, your team will need a second to process what they are hearing.
Embrace the silence and give team members the space to dive deeper into their thoughts.
Tip 10: Utilize Technology and Tools
Ideation doesn’t have to be sitting in a room with a whiteboard scribbling out ideas to the group. Instead, leverage technology like collaborative platforms, virtual whiteboards, or ideation software to centralize idea sharing and organization. There are some great tools out there that can help you organize everyone’s ideas and allow the team to collaborate directly, allowing the facilitator to focus (a little bit more) on directing the group as a whole.
Tip 11: Keep a Record of Ideas
Make sure to capture every idea that is proposed. Remember, an idea lost is an opportunity wasted. Sometimes, someone will have an idea during the beginning of the meeting that didn’t exactly fit at the time. However, at the end of the ideation, when more ideas are on the table, you may suddenly find a perfect slot where it will fit like a puzzle piece.
Recording ideas not only allows you to circle back on content but also allows you to visually see the roadmap of ideas that lead you to your final destination. This can be a powerful tool as you review your content marketing strategy and make sure you are hitting all the right notes.
Tip 12: Vote on Your Ideas
Once you’ve assembled your list of ideas, utilize democratic voting or a ranking system to single out the strongest contenders. For some groups with individuals with differing opinions, this is the best way to reach a consensus and move your strategy forward. Power to the people.
Tip 13: Form an Action Plan
Finally, after finalizing your ideas, chart an action plan.
Outline responsibilities, deadlines, and next steps that fit within your content marketing strategy for content creation and distribution. Don’t underestimate the importance of diligent planning. No matter how perfect the ideation meeting is, if the execution falls flat, so will your content.
Complete Your Own Ideation Session
If conducted correctly, an ideation session can be the springboard to your most innovative, engaging, and result-driven content yet.
At Content Workshop, we embrace these strategies and navigate successful ideation sessions with our clients on a regular basis. The way we hold our ideations is one of the reasons we’ve been able to consistently deliver engaging and meaningful content to our clients. Want to know more? Start a chat with us today.