Content marketing is hard work! We have to devise strategies and campaigns, break those larger plans into smaller steps, then execute by creating amazing content that will attract our ideal audience, build authority, and, ultimately, convert.
On top of that, most content marketers are writers first. Sitting down at that laptop, word processor, or notebook and pen (whatever works best for you; we don't judge) and crafting out awesome words--that's our cup of tea.
But what about the first steps in the process? What about perfecting your strategy? What about planning out the very best campaign for your brand's needs?
Is that part more difficult for you? Do you feel that your marketing team is stuck in a rut, always handling matters in the same way? Do you want to spice up your marketing strategy?
You may be in need of a brainstorming session, and pronto!
In this article, we're going to talk about some of the best practices when it comes to brainstorming. Maybe you're already using some of these suggestions, and maybe there are some points here that can help you spice things up and get to a whole new level of ideation and strategy.
So let's start with some brainstorming ground rules.
What are the Four Rules of Brainstorming?
Many different rules and sets of rules have been put forth when it comes to brainstorming. We at Concured really like the four rules presented by Miha Matlievski on Medium. They are:
Many heads are better than one.
Let's take a moment to break down each of these great ideas.
No Judgement or Criticism
When you're brainstorming, no idea is a bad idea.
This doesn't mean that every idea is a good idea, and many ideas will be left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak. But a brainstorming session has to have an accepting atmosphere.
Let's say you're brainstorming with your team. But one guy, Chuck, is in the corner critiquing and judging everyone else's ideas. With that negative influence, people will be afraid to speak up, and the brainstorming magic will break down quickly.
So kick Chuck out of the room and remind everyone that, while the brainstorming session is in progress, all ideas are welcome!
Think Freely and Make Crazy Connections
When you're brainstorming, the whole point is to think outside of the box, to look beyond the obvious.
The first few ideas thrown out may be the simplest ones. Your goal is to get them out of the way as quickly as possible and start thinking more freely.
Ask questions like this:
How would a firefighter approach this problem?
What about a military general? Or a Tibetan monk?
How would our competition view this issue? How can we do better than them?
How would you explain this problem to a small child?
The whole point is to get the juices flowing and start thinking outside the box. Sometimes the silliest idea said, while maybe not the best idea on its own, leads to a more imaginative and innovative solution.
Big Numbers: Tons of Ideas
Related to the previous rules, remember that brainstorming isn't about thinking up one or two ideas and choosing the best one. Often time, the best brainstorming sessions involve dozens of ideas.
So when it comes to ideas, think in terms of big numbers. Set a session goal, such as 20 ideas, or even 50. No one goes to lunch until we meet our idea quota!
You may be surprised that, while the third idea seemed like the best one, the 12th is superior in every way!
Even if you go back to idea #3 after all, at least you'll feel confident that there probably isn't a better one out there.
Many Heads are Better than One
A brainstorming session with two or three people may do in a pinch, but, when it comes to ideation, the more the merrier!
So invite as many from the team as possible, and remember to listen respectfully to everyone, even if they’re the junior member of the team. Sometimes the youngest of the group will have the freshest idea.
Bonus Rule: Combine Ideas and Make New Connections
When brainstorming, don't think of each idea as its own package, something you have to take or leave wholesale.
Ideas can be broken apart and combined with other ideas, as well. And those connections may produce a completely new idea that no one could have expected.
Let's say the team is divided between two great solutions to a problem. Ask: What do we like about each idea? Can aspects of one be combined with the other? The combination isn't always possible, but you never know until you entertain the possibility!
Some Top-Notch Brainstorming Techniques
There are many different brainstorming methods out there. Here are five of our favorite techniques to try at your next meeting.
Ah, the trusty, old mind map. It's famous because it works. Try starting with your goal in the middle and start connecting in things that can lead you to your goal.
Or you can start with a problem in the middle of your map and connect ideas that may be solutions.
Speaking of starting with problems, you may want to try reverse brainstorming to find new and interesting solutions. Start with a problem and brainstorm all the things that cause or lead to the problem.
Sometimes, it's only after you truly understand a problem that you can start working on a solution.
The round-robin strategy is simple: Everyone has to contribute an idea, and only after everyone has put in an idea can we start critiquing ideas or throw in a second idea.
This is a great way to get everyone involved and force the whole team to listen respectfully and avoid criticizing.
Make it Collaborative
Sometimes a brainstorming session should be applied to a more public forum. Try posting a problem or goal on a message board in the office (or digitally) and have everyone post ideas to the board throughout the week.
When you sleep on a problem, you often come up with better ideas, so have your entire team of company sleep on something all week, and you may be surprised at the solutions provided.
To get the juices flowing, assign some team members to be ideal customers and respond to ideas "in character." Sometimes, new thoughts or obstacles can grow from the conversation.
In conclusion, there are so many different ways to brainstorm. There is no limit to the number of rules and techniques you can use with your team. Try one of these methods out during your next team meeting and see if something magical grows from it.
Of course, Concured offers a wonderful suite of tools for ideation and strategy design. But our cutting-edge AI tools won't just produce a ready-made content strategy for you. With these brainstorming techniques, you can take the keywords, suggestions, and topics Concured can provide for you and craft them into a strategy specific to your brand and company goals!