Whenever I talk about blogging, or marketing in general, I’m asked about ideas. How do you come up with marketing ideas? What should I write in my blog? You get the idea. The truth is that there are lots of ways to come up with new marketing ideas and most of them involve one basic skill; listening.
If you’ve ever struggled for ideas, here’s my guide to conjuring them up.
Now, I know I said that you needed to be able to listen, but sometimes Google is your friend. There are a few different methods you can use so I’m just going to share my favourites. If you’ve already written a few blog posts you can use your own Google analytics to work out what people liked. Which pages got the most hits? Where did your website visitors spend their time? By working out what people read (and what they found in a search) you can identify which topics people are interested in.
I also love using Google Trends and AnswerthePublic.com. On Answer the Public you type in a keyword and it’ll tell you what people searched for. It’s a bit of a blunt instrument as you can’t see what the most popular searches are. For that, use Google Trends. You can find information on topics that are popular now or when a particular keyword gets the most searches so you can choose the best time to post.
Use social media
If you’re in an analytical mood, you can use your social media statistics to find out which topics were popular. However, you can also review your posts in a different way. When you get comments on your posts they’ll often tell you what your readers liked or if they agreed with you. But look a bit more deeply and you can start to identify pain points. What do your audience struggle with? For example, they might agree with something you’ve written about an endless to do list but mention that it all has to fit around their children. If that’s something you can help with, you’ve got another blog post.
It’s a different kind of listening, but you’re still trying to hear what people are really saying when they comment.
Talk to actual humans for new ideas
I know this one can be scary. Believe me, I used to hate networking because it meant standing in a room with lots of people who just wanted to show off. I’d end up talking to people like me who just wanted to hide in a corner. Now I’ve found the right networking group, I love it. I won’t tell you that no-one is ever annoying, because they are. It’s just that there aren’t quite so many of them. Of course, you don’t just have to go networking. You can talk to your customers too. Listen to the questions they ask you and what they tell you about themselves. What problems do they have that you could solve? What are their aspirations?
Ultimately, your marketing needs to show your customers that you understand them. When you listen to what they tell you it enables you to reflect it back at them. Your blogs and social media posts should be designed to hold a mirror up to your customers’ lives and then show them how you can improve things.
How do you come up with ideas? Share in the comments!
This blog from Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media gives you lots of different ways to find topics, including listening! There are also some great details about how to find topics online.
Here’s a blog I wrote about other ways to come up with new ideas.