How to Turn Tiny Ideas into High-Performance Content
Every once in a while a marketer will come up with a great idea. Most of the time though, we just take ideas that we already know really well and apply them to different situations. For instance, I'm kind of a regular at a gourmet popsicle shop near my house.
Every time I go in there, I think of ways to improve their marketing.
A change of wording here, a clever way to collect email addresses there...the list goes on.
It's nothing new, just the same old knowledge applied to a different situation. But it's still a good idea. And if it's a good idea, it's usually worth turning it into a piece of content. But I can't just write about marketing for gourmet popsicle shops.
The market's too small and that popsicle shop is doing just fine without my help. It has to be relevant for my audience. To write a solid piece of content from a simple idea, you need to overcome 4 basic hurdles. I promise they're not hard to get over. All it takes is a little jump. Get good at jumping fast, and you'll have content coming out your eyeballs (in a good way)!
Hurdle #1: Recognizing Good Ideas
Good ideas are the result of solving problems. As humans, we probably solve hundreds of millions of tiny problems every day. The majority of those are solved unconsciously. When we're walking down the street, we have the problem of knowing which foot to move next. We solve it by moving the foot that's furthest back. If you think about it, it's a great idea! But we don't think about it. The same thing happens on a more dramatic scale with marketing ideas.
When we think of little ways people can solve marketing problems, we tend to take it for granted. When I want to re-word a sign outside of a shop, it doesn't automatically hit me that I can use that small solution for a piece of content. The truth is, you CAN turn it into a piece of content.
This first hurdle is probably the one that takes the most practice. It's hard to change the way you think. The only suggestion I have here is to try to catch the more conscious solutions you come up with and work your way down. You're not stupid. T
he ideas are there, you're just not noticing them. Get good at recognizing those trivial solutions to trivial marketing problems and there's no end to the amount of content you can produce if you can get over hurdle #2...
Hurdle #2: Turning Particular Ideas Into General Principles
Writing an article about the wording on a particular sign isn't going to be a hit with anyone unless you can talk about the principles behind your tiny solution. Getting over this hurdle is easy if you ask yourself some simple journalist-like questions:
- Why is that solution effective?
- How is it effective?
- When is it effective?
- Where is it effective?
Once you've got your answers, see if you can draw a conclusion. General principles usually look like this: In situations like X, Y is the best solution. It's a best practice. While we've come a long way from a simple idea, best practices don't make for good content.
Best practices are for people who know they have a particular problem but can't solve it. If you've been in the marketing business for more than a day, you know that most of the time your clients don't even know they have a problem! That brings us to hurdle #3...
Hurdle #3: Applying General Principles To Your Target Audience
To write valuable content for your clients, you need benefits. Your clients need to know how those best practices can help them in their particular situations. To figure this out, you need to ask another set of similar questions:
- Why is this best practice effective for your clients?
- How is it effective for your clients?
- When is it effective for your clients?
- Where is it effective for your clients?
Simple enough right? On to #4...
Hurdle #4: Writing It Down
So you've gotten past hurdles 1,2, and 3, but now we come to the biggest and most intimidating hurdle of all...writing it. Fortunately, if you've written down your answers for the earlier hurdles, you've already got the bulk of the work done for your article.
All you need to do now is put it all together. I don't know why, but articles work best if you go back the way you came. In other words, start with the benefits, move on to the facts (best practices) behind those benefits, and finish with some specific ideas for how your clients can apply it. At this point, you should have a brand new piece of content that's ready to bring hungry clients your way.
If you do, congratulations! If you don't, keep trying. Being able to make tiny ideas into colossal content takes practice. But just like any hurdle jumper knows, it gets easier with momentum. If you're stuck, tell me some tiny ideas that you think you could turn into great content. I'll try to help in the comments...