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5 Findings About Idea Generation for Content Marketing

5 Findings About Idea Generation for Content Marketing
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How do marketers come up with ideas for content? How many ideas do they invest in achieving their marketing goals? And what are the processes B2B marketers use (or don't use) to siphon ideas into creative pipelines?

Related: What's the Big Idea? 10 Qualities That Set Big Ideas Apart

In an original research project I recently completed, I found answers. The project surveyed 377 marketers across the United States, primarily in B2B industries (76 percent). And while the results underscored some existing hypotheses about ideas and ideation, they also revealed new insights about what marketers need to be successful. Here are some of the fundamental findings:

1. A constant, steady stream of ideas is crucial to content marketing, 99 percent of marketers agree.

Marketing has long been a creative craft. Despite the growing need for data-backed strategies, success still demands clever, thought-out messaging and brand positioning. Certainly, CMOs are getting wildly excited over the prospect of quantifiable evidence backing up marketing's impact on larger business goals. But that doesn't mean that marketing managers or content creators can ignore the industry's creative demands. It's not an either-or scenario. It's a "both" scenario. 

However, marketers today are held accountable for 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent of the sales funnel. This growing area of responsibility translates to an increased demand for content to fuel each of those stages and prospect conversations. This is probably why . . .

2. One in two marketers lack enough ideas to fuel their content marketing.

The study showed that while almost every marketer surveyed said that new ideas were crucial to success, only half felt "idea rich." The other half were "idea poor." In fact, on average . . . 

Related: Top 10 Successful Marketing Stunts 

3. Marketers need one new idea per working day to fuel their marketing efforts. That’s 251 ideas per year.

This number seems easy enough if you're not the person responsible for both coming up with each idea and executing it. Thinking up 251 ideas is already a monumental task, but executing each one is a whole different ball game. The continual demand for new idea-generation depletes the time teams have to create quality marketing assets from each of those ideas. Lacking enough time, bandwidth, staff or resources mars these marketers' ability to produce assets that support the original project proposal.

What's worse is that many ideas that do graduate from the infantile stage to a fully matured content asset get used just once -- and then get tossed. 

3. Some 75 percent of ideas are turned into a content asset, published once, then never reused or repurposed again.

This content "waste" is a commonly understood problem for B2B marketers actively doing content marketing. A seemingly massive content-black hole sucks most of the marketers' creative work. Content is produced, gets attention for one day, then is forgotten and lost, with no way to find or retrieve it. 

Marketers know their processes aren't perfect. But that doesn't mean that the sheer volume of original ideas needed wanes in the slightest. One of the most prevalent tactics companies use for combating "idea fatigue" is tapping into internal thought leaders and subject-matter experts within their own staffs.

This is known as "crowd-sourcing ideas," and marketers want in on the game. In fact . . . 

4. Almost 70 percent of marketers want to be able to “crowd-source” ideas more easily from internal workers.

By fishing in a bigger pond, so to speak, there are a great deal more fish to catch. But it's not just about quantity; it's also about the quality of ideas. By asking subject experts -- say, the DevOps guy, the product manager or the logistics coordinator -- about their unique focuses and perspectives on a product, the marketing team opens the door to new and relevant topics that haven't yet been addressed. Subject experts can even help execute ideas, providing primary resources for marketing materials and first-person insights on various components of a product. 

5. It's important to develop a strategy before marketers get too far down the rabbit hole.

There's an overarching lesson to be gleaned from these five findings: Marketers need to establish a process by which ideation lives and breathes, before they get too far down the rabbit hole.

Marketers must identify:

  • How ideas will be brainstormed
  • Where those ideas will live until they move into production
  • Other internal sources they can tap for additional marketing ideas
  • A process by which each of those ideas gets vetted

If nearly 100 percent of marketers in the survey said that a steady stream of ideas is crucial to marketing success, it must be true. But only those who can manage the onslaught of demand will navigate these waters successfully.

Related: How to Set Marketing Goals You Can Actually Achieve