A Road Map for Smart, New Ideas (A Content Ideation Guide Sneak Peek)

Over the past two weeks we have been working on a big project for CopyPress — developing a guide that teaches people how to come up with good ideas for content.

This project wasn’t easy.

raubi3.8memeBreaking down the creative process is complicated and developing a road map to a golden idea is difficult, but through a lot of research, exploring, and understanding, we were able to develop directions controlled enough to keep you on the road – but loose enough to let your creativity lead you. These are the cliff notes for the CopyPress Content Ideation Guide.

(Sign up for CopyPress Community so you will be the first to know when the complete Content Ideation Guide is published.)

Step 1: Define What A Good Content Idea Is

There is a definition for an idea (a concept or mental impression), but there isn’t a simple definition for a good idea.

This is especially true when it comes to defining good ideas for online content such as:

  • Copy Content (blog posts, white papers, eBooks)
  • Image Graphics (infographics, memes)
  • Motion Graphics (videos, interactive infographics)
  • Presentations (webinars, podcasts)

It is difficult to define good content ideas because most of the judgment relies heavily on personal bias and opinion.

So in order to objectively define what good content ideas are, we must find an objective judgment scale. I found that the best way to identify a good idea was by looking at the measure of its success.

Some good ideas are defined by the success of the product that it created (FaceBook, Post-its, Social Security). Other good ideas are defined by the stickiness of the idea (This Is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Drugs,” “Just Do It,” and, “Keep Calm, Carry On”).

In the case of online content, good ideas are defined by their ability to grow legs.

If an idea is widely shared and spread to a large group, it is a good content idea.

Step 2: Identify the Basic Element of a Good Idea

ideationraubi3.10

In general, I believe that all good ideas – whether they are for content or anything else – are built by connections.

The inception of an idea is often described as a spark. That spark is what happens when two separate concepts in the mind run into each other creating a new relationship, a new connections, a brand new idea.

That spark happens when a person looks at an old freight shipping container…

raubifreight3.10…and sees a fully functional building.

ruabihotel3.10Connections are at the root of all ideas. But for this guide, we are focusing on content ideas, so we need to identify the type of connections that work best in content ideas.

I call these Content Connection Hooks. Each hook is a different way of building connections to concepts related to the client’s industry or content topics.

  • Education – Connects Deep Concepts and the Mind
  • Topical – Connects Concepts and the News
  • Fresh Spin – Connects Concepts and Unrelated/Abstract Concepts
  • Self Interest – Connects Concepts and Personal Identity
  • True Story – Connects Concepts and Real Life
  • Curation – Connect Concepts and More Concepts

Now that we can identify good ideas and understand what makes them good, we can bring in the client.

Step 3:  Analyze the Client, Objectives, and Audience

Before we can start creating ideas for a client or campaign, we have to:

  • learn about the client in order to understand who they are
  • learn about the client objectives in order to understand how we can reach their goals
  • learn about the audience in order to understand what they like

We can figure this out by asking a few questions.

  • What does the client do?
  • How does the company do this?
  • Why do they do this?
  • What is the main purpose of the content?
  • What content does the client like?
  • Why do they like it?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What does the audience like?
  • Why do they like it?

The answers are useful because they allow you to get inside the mind of the client and the audience. You can identify with their perspective, values, and goals and develop a plan to direct your research of the industry.

Step 4: Collect Valuable Inspiration and Resources

raubistockman3.10Before ideation, collect a ton of information, resources, and concepts that pertain to the client and their industry.

Some useful ways to research include using tools and sites like:

(The CopyPress Content Ideation Guide includes step by step ways to get the most out of using these sites and tools.)

You should collect all of the information that you find while researching and compile it in a Concept Bank. Collect:

  • Client Information: important information about the client, client preferences, unique project requirements and audience
  • Client Content: information from the client’s website including the titles, URLs and defining characteristics of popular posts
  • External Blog Posts: inspirational and resourceful posts from other websites and blogs (within the client’s industry or not) including the titles, URLs and defining characteristics
  • Social Sites: social media profiles or online communities that relate to the topic or industry
  • Quotes/Stats: quotes and stats (and their sources) that may be used as inspiration or details of content
  • Visuals: URLs for images, videos, charts, Infographics, or any other visual that could be added to content
  • Buzz: list of buzz words, topics and categories that pertain to an industry or client (terms may be unfamiliar to you, but known to a specific industry or group of people)
  • Ideas: lists of content ideas (may include fully flushed out ideas or brief notes)

Step 5: Start Simple and Choose a Direction

Now that you have a large Concept Bank, start brainstorming.

Pick Out Concepts with High Audience Engagement.

From your Bank, pull out concepts that have a high audience engagement by looking at high social shares and commenting.

Tie One or More of those Concepts to a Connection Hook.

Here they are again:

  • Education – Connects Deep Concepts and the Mind
  • Topical – Connects Concepts and the News
  • Fresh Spin – Connects Concepts and Unrelated/Abstract Concepts
  • Self Interest – Connects Concepts and Personal Identity
  • True Story – Connects Concepts and Real Life
  • Curation – Connect Concepts and More Concepts

Add an Emotional Appeal to Your Idea.

Find a way to tie your concept and connection to a strong emotion. Emotional appeals always increase the interest level of an idea. The higher the level of emotion, the higher the level of sharability.

  • Serenity —> Joy —> Ecstasy
  • Pensiveness —> Sadness —> Grief
  • Anticipation —> Interest —> Vigilance
  • Distraction —> Surprise —> Amazement
  • Acceptance —> Trust —> Admiration
  • Boredom —> Disgust —> Loathing
  • Annoyance —> Anger —> Rage
  • Apprehension —> Fear —> Terror

Develop a simple core idea based off of your choices and concepts.

Step 6: Tell a Story and Add Details

raubipaintclouds3.10Having a strong core idea is not enough to make an overall good content idea.

You have to back up the idea by including credible, concrete support. Always remember: You can’t tell the reader something. You have to show them.

Develop the idea by adding in credible, concrete details.

  • Use examples and stats.
  • Share stories.
  • Connect to something that people already know.
  • Appeal to the senses.
  • Keep the reader’s previous knowledge in your mind.
  • Refer back to credible, well-known sources.

Awesome content ideas include both a concrete core idea and concrete supporting details so don’t come up with a great idea, then ruin it by leaving out solid support.

Get the Whole Story

As you can see, there are many elements to coming up with a compelling content idea.

This is just a brief overview of the full ideation road map. So don’t get stuck with bad ideas and check out the CopyPress Content Ideation Guide so you can leave your confusion in the dust.

Sign up for CopyPress Community so that you are the first to know when the Ideation Guide is available for free.

About the author

Raubi Marie Perilli

Raubi Marie Perilli is the founder of Simply Stated Media. She regularly writes about freelancing, writing, and marketing on her blog and around the internet. Learn more by following her on Twitter or signing up for her free training, How to Get Your Freelance Business Off the Ground Without Wasting Time.