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6 effective content brainstorming methods to super-charge your marketing

Sophie Thompson
12th January 2021

As a marketer, coming up with weeks, or even months' worth of content in one sitting can quickly drain your creativity. If you’re the sole person responsible for doing so, it can make mental blocks even more difficult to overcome.

Content brainstorming can be a great way to come up with new ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise tapped into, and setting aside time to let your creativity flow onto paper is a proven technique.

Particularly in larger businesses, however, brainstorming can often end being done in groups or teams, which is where it falls flat and everyone leaves feeling unproductive and unmotivated.

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Unbalanced conversation and awkward silence are ultimately the two biggest downfalls of a group brainstorming session. They often end with meetings being cut short without a lot of progress made, and can quickly descend into chaos, even with some kind of agenda at the start.

However, there are plenty of content brainstorming methods out there that work both alone and in groups, to help reignite your productivity and bring the fun back into coming up with amazing marketing campaigns.

Let’s take a look…

Contributions

Some of the greatest ideas often come from outside of your marketing team, surprisingly. Having everyone in the company on board and transparent about marketing launches, as well as giving them the opportunity to give their own ideas and feedback about projects is one of the main reasons we launched brainstorming tool Contributions here at ContentCal.

It allows everyone to have a say, and for all of their responses collected in one place, rather than between 50 (or worse) back-and-forth emails.

Contributions is essentially a way of creating custom-made forms that can be sent either to clients or fellow team members to collect ideas or information. This allows you to easily curate content suggestions while maintaining control over the overall content plan.

Contributions

For example, an idea for a form could be: “What’s your favorite shade of blue?”. You’d then be able to see exactly who had submitted what response, and curate all of your answers to help you guide your content decisions.

The beauty of Contributions is that it can be used for things such as daily social media posts, right through to meaty marketing campaigns.

In fact, we’re so confident in the feature, we even used Contributions to market the launch of Contributions, encouraging colleagues from around ContentCal to submit their ideas of how we could raise awareness with our users.

Rapid ideation

A commonly used method of content brainstorming, rapid ideation is a very simple, but effective concept, especially if in a big group. Simply set a timer (we’d recommend 5-10 minutes), and ask everyone to write down as many ideas as possible in that timeframe.

Having a strict time constraint creates a sense of urgency, and also allows everyone to have all of their ideas heard - without talking themselves out of suggesting it or using the “I’m not sure if this is right” excuse. Everything is laid bare.

Once the timer is up, that’s your chance to discuss. None of the ideas will be fleshed out so it’s a great chance to discuss the pros and cons of ideas before building them out, and means the team can bounce off each other to come up with something epic.

Round-robin

If there’s an imbalance between contributing members of the team, it’s worth using a round-robin to make sure everyone gets a say. Particularly good if there are quieter colleagues or those who love to command a room.

A round-robin means that every person in the team is forced to bring an idea. When you go round discussing your ideas, no one is allowed to criticize, elaborate on, or submit a second idea until every single person has had their say. Should you find yourself in a situation where you’ve brought an idea that someone’s already said, it’s bad luck. You have to think of something else before the round-robin is complete!

Once you’ve been round the room, that’s when the critiquing phase can begin.

Brainstorming methods

6-3-5 brainwriting

Brainwriting is a great way of collaborating on ideas because everyone gets to build on other people’s ideas. This is one to use if you’re in a larger team with a lot of people to get through.

A brainwriting session is usually split into several “rounds”. In each round, six people write down three ideas each within five minutes.

Then, when those five minutes are up, everyone swaps their paper with someone else - and that person then has five minutes to either build-on or add to the list of ideas on that piece of paper.

Once this has been done six times, you’ll be left with a plethora of ideas to discuss. Of course, if you have more or less than six people you can tailor it accordingly too.

This is a good technique to use if you are building out a bigger marketing campaign and need a fully-formed idea to take shape by the end of the session.

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Stepladder method

The step-ladder method of brainstorming allows everyone to form their own opinions and ideas before being influenced by anyone else.

After discussing the problem as a group, everyone except two people should leave the room. Those two remaining people will then be left to discuss the problem and their ideas around it.

You’ll then let a third member back into the room to discuss their own thoughts, before hearing what the two others have just discussed when they were alone. Keep adding more and more members of the team until everyone is back in the room and a solid idea has come together.

It’s a great method of getting everyone involved, and building an idea based on everyone’s thoughts, as it can be easy to get lost amongst the crowd if you’re not someone that likes to speak out.

How to brainstorm

Starbursting

If you’re looking for social media content ideas (check out ours if you haven’t already!), starbursting is a method of looking for the reasons behind your actions.

It’s all about asking questions, and really ironing out the nitty-gritty details of your ideas. For every idea you have, you should be asking the questions: “What? Where? Why? When? How?”.

The central star is your idea. Then the bursts are those questions and the answers to those questions, helping to adapt your idea with logical reasoning. To make this effective, it’s best to think of as many questions as you can and try to cover all bases. You can then form new ideas based on the answers to these questions, thus forming an even bigger, and more thought-out idea.

Like the sound of these ideas? All of these brainstorming methods are centralized using ContentCal Contributions. Collaboration and curation just got a whole lot easier, and we created the feature with the needs of businesses in mind.

Our goal (as ever) is to ease the pressure on your marketing department, encourage content suggestions from across the entire business, as well as make it easier to collect these ideas and add them to the content plan.

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Note: Try Contributions and watch it transform the way you do content marketing. Sign up for a trial with ContentCal for free.


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