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A small business owner’s guide to creating epic content marketing ideas

SkillsCategory
9 min read
Dan Hughes

Whatever your niche or industry, when it comes to marketing your goods or services, ideas are like gold dust.

But while coming up with head-turning content marketing ideas can earn you a very healthy return on investment (ROI) — and plenty of loyal fans — connecting with them isn’t always an easy process. 

But, with the right mindset and a few tricks up your sleeve, you can come up with consistently epic content ideas that will set you apart from the pack.

Conjuring up the best content marketing ideas takes equal parts creativity and discipline.

And, by walking that fine line between the inspirational and the analytical, you’ll find your ideation sweet spot.

Inspired? Great, because I’m going to show you how to come up with consistently epic content marketing ideas for your business.

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Let’s dive in.

Know your content marketing goals

First of all, to create content marketing ideas that offer value and actually get results, it pays to know what you’re trying to achieve.

Whether you’re looking to come up with an original content idea for a single article, an entire multichannel marketing campaign — or anything in between — setting your goals will form the foundations of your success.

So, before you get those creative juices bubbling and start brainstorming ideas, you should get down to the nitty-gritty in terms of the purpose you want your content to serve.

Rather than looking at data or metrics at this point, you should think about what you want your piece of content to do for your business. 

Here are some ideas or angles to consider:

  • Do you want to educate your audience on an emerging industry trend or subject? 
  • Do you want to drive your target toward a specific service or product? 
  • Do you want to skyrocket brand awareness by jumping on an existing news trend?
  • Do you want to answer a particular question or help solve a problem?
  • Do you want to get a conversation started to improve engagement and your brand visibility?
  • Do you want to improve customer loyalty and get more people to sign up to your app or newsletter?

Ask yourself these pressing content marketing questions, seek the right answers, and you’ll give your content ideation process the direction it needs from the very start.

Seek your sources of inspiration

Armed with your main content marketing ideation goals, you should set about seeking your sources of inspiration. By gathering a well-rounded mix of resources, you’ll have plenty of places to gain inspiration when conjuring up your epic content marketing ideas.

Here are some ideas or angles for your consideration:

Your competitors

By spying on your competitor's content marketing efforts, you can get inspiration by improving on existing ideas or finding gaps that you can fill with relevant subject matter or concepts that stand out or offer extra value. So, do a spot of mystery shopping, sign up for some newsletters, read through blog archives, check out branded apps or YouTube content, and explore social media channels.

Your current customers

As you’re looking to create content ideas to impress and inspire your customers, you should take their thoughts, feelings, and opinions into account. By collecting direct feedback or reviews from your customer service department, looking through your brand’s FAQ page, looking at data on your best-performing campaigns or content to date, and setting up polls or surveys on specific subjects, you’ll get plenty of creative juice for new ideas that, well … sell.

Your own business

Brainstorming or content ideation shouldn't be exclusive to you or your marketing department alone. By holding collaborative brainstorming sessions across all of your departments (even if your company is super-small), you’re likely to connect with ideas and concepts that are not only perfect, but also varied and exciting. 

These are the kinds of ideas that will push you ahead of the pack. The main point here: Get plenty of people involved in the brainstorming process and you’re more likely to conjure up the epic content ideas you’ve been looking for.

Industry publications

Be sure to sign up, subscribe to, and check in with blogs, magazines, newsletters, and publications relevant to your niche or industry. This way, you’ll gain more subject knowledge while significantly boosting your chances of connecting with your next big lightbulb moment⁠. 

It’s simple: The more information you absorb, the more inspired you'll become. 

So, start reading, consuming, and subscribing.

Experience

Sometimes, to try something is to really understand it. So, if you’re struggling to find ideas for a certain campaign or subject, ditch your screen and do something relevant to your business niche in real life. 

This includes trying one of your products, visiting a museum, going for a meal, doing an activity — whatever fits. The hands-on experience, coupled with the excitement of trying something new, will give you the inspiration you need for those all-important content ideas.

Related: How to find inspiration from your competitors (without stealing their ideas)

Transforming your content marketing ideas from average to epic

With your content marketing goals decided and your best sources of inspiration in place, you’ll be ready to take your core ideas or concepts and transform them into something that will excite, amaze, and inspire your audience.

Let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

Mind-map and brainstorm your ideation nuggets

First of all, you should take any broad content concepts or ideas you have (the nuggets) and start to refine them by using a mind-mapping or brainstorming tool.

Visual brainstorming or mind-mapping will help you give greater context to your basic ideas and drill down deeper. And, when that happens, epic ideas will start to emerge before you.

In our hyperconnected digital age, there are plenty of digital tools you can use for brainstorming or mind-mapping. 

For this particular example, I’ve used a free and easy-to-use tool called MindMup. There are plenty of others to choose from — and you can find them with a quick Google search.

Mind-map and brainstorm your ideation nuggets

For the purpose of this example, I run an eco-clothing brand. I’ve used a mind-mapping tool to dig a little deeper into the concept of writing content for my shoe products.

In addition to laying out some slightly more specific concepts, I’ve also created a separate section (or “node”) for potential content formats.

With this visual information on hand, I can now narrow down my potential nuggets into ideas — as well as content formats — that could stand out from the crowd:

  • An infographic on the process of producing sustainable eco shoes, along with facts, stats, and insider information
  • A Q&A with one of the team, accompanied by a snappy “behind-the-brand” video
  • A thought-leading editorial storytelling piece based on adventure tales of sustainability advocates or influencers who wear eco-shoes

Create a snappy content title

With a pool of potential ideas that you can now mold into a head-turning piece of content, you can take things further by coming up with a snappy content title.

Did you know that 80% of consumers pay attention to the title of a piece of content rather than reading the whole article? 

So, grabbing attention with your content title is essential to the success of your content marketing efforts. Not only is getting your title right essential for grabbing attention and appearing in the right search engine rankings, but it will also give your content ideas a definitive direction.

Here are some top tips on creating a snappy content title that sings:

  • Ask a question to prompt engagement and spark curiosity
  • Use numbers (written as numerics: 7, 8, 9, etc.) to grab attention
  • Weave marketing action words into your title
  • Tell your readers what they will learn or gain from reading your content
  • Be clear and concise: Aim to use between six and 11 words in your content title

Content title examples

Based on some of the tips above, here are some content title examples based on my eco shoes content ideas:

  • 7 things to consider when choosing the best eco shoes for you
  • Want to know how eco shoes are made? Check out our must-see infographic
  • Epic eco shoe adventures: The game-changing journey of adventurer [add name] 

Oh, and if you need a helping hand when coming up with snappy titles for your content ideas, you can always use a free AI-powered generator tool.

Related: How to attract clients and new customers through your blog in 2024

Bring your ideas to life

Armed with your content ideas and snappy titles to accompany them, you’ll be in a position to bring everything to life.

At this point, your content ideas will have enough weight to craft into a piece of content that will stand out, offer value, and offer you a healthy return on investment (ROI). Your title will also help give your concept a definitive direction.

So, to breathe life into your content ideas, give these approaches a try:

  1. Decide on a final content format (or formats), taking your pick from examples like infographics, videos, listicles, how-tos, interviews, stories, etc.
  2. Gather your sources by conducting a little online research (for knowledge, news, stats, trending topics, etc.) and reaching out to anyone you might want to grab a quote from or interview.
  3. If you’re producing a blog post or article, add all of your prospective subheadings (you can tweak or edit these as you start the writing process) you’re going to use to give your content a definitive beginning, middle, and end.
  4. Use trending topic tools to discover the content that is trending for the subject you’re focusing on. Look at the three top-performing pieces of content for direction and to discover how you can do things better.

Bonus resources

To help you bring your ideas to life, here are some bonus resources to review:

Final thoughts

No matter what people tell you, your words and ideas can change the world.
— Robin Williams

The right ideas will accelerate the growth of your business and offer no end of value to your business — they are potential creative tools that will set you apart from the competition.

By following these essential tips, taking the right steps, and getting into the right creative habits, you’ll connect with consistent content ideas that will keep you moving forward with confidence. Make a start today and you’ll be swimming in actionable content for your business before you know it.