How to Produce Better Content Ideas

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How to Produce Better Content Ideas

  1. 1. how to produce better content ideas by mark johnstone
  2. 2. how do you come up with ideas?
  3. 3. they just come to you, right?
  4. 4. not quite
  5. 5. there is a certain mystery to the ‘light bulb moment’
  6. 6. but to say ideas ‘just come to you’ is to overlook everything you do beforehand that allows you to reach that point
  7. 7. the 4 things you need to know about ideas 10 steps to producing better ideas this presentation is in 2 parts
  8. 8. but first, a little background…
  9. 9. 3 years ago, I was an SEO Consultant at Distilled https://www.distilled.net/about/people/mark-johnstone/
  10. 10. then I started the Creative team at Distilled
  11. 11. we’ve since grown the team to 10 people (only 9 in shot)
  12. 12. we make digital content to earn attention for our clients online
  13. 13. for example
  14. 14. 755 likes 67 LRDs http://www.rasmussen.edu/resources/what-career-should-i-choose/
  15. 15. 755 likes 67 LRDs LRDs = Linking Root Domains, i.e. the number of other websites that linked to this piece of content http://www.rasmussen.edu/resources/what-career-should-i-choose/
  16. 16. 755 likes 67 LRDs we track more meaningful metrics than just likes and linking root domains, but for the purpose of this presentation, I will take these 2 metrics to indicate whether or not the piece of content was compelling http://www.rasmussen.edu/resources/what-career-should-i-choose/
  17. 17. 25,000 likes 201 LRDs http://www.concerthotels.com/ipod-visualized-as-vinyl
  18. 18. 1,700 likes 220 LRDs http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/hungry-tech/
  19. 19. 2,100 likes 313 LRDs http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/google-analytics-guide/
  20. 20. 7,400 likes 359 LRDs https://www.worldpayzinc.com/tech-wealth
  21. 21. 88,000 likes 566 LRDs http://www.concerthotels.com/100-years-of-rock/
  22. 22. 143,000 likes 599 LRDs (not provided) under NDA(non-disclosure agreement)
  23. 23. 148,000 likes 775 LRDs http://www.thomson.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/infographic/interactive-music-map/index.html
  24. 24. and we’ve earned coverage in all of the following publications
  25. 25. but it hasn’t all been plain sailing
  26. 26. 37 likes http://www.thomson.co.uk/blog/infographic/superbowl/index.html#2011
  27. 27. 37 likes that’s me plus only 36 other people!!! http://www.thomson.co.uk/blog/infographic/superbowl/index.html#2011
  28. 28. 37 likes trial and error is a great way to learn but it also sucks http://www.thomson.co.uk/blog/infographic/superbowl/index.html#2011
  29. 29. 37 likes we’ve learned a lot along the way, and this presentation aims to help give your content the best chance of success http://www.thomson.co.uk/blog/infographic/superbowl/index.html#2011
  30. 30. the 4 things you need to know about ideas
  31. 31. an idea is a novel combination of previously unconnected elements in a way that adds value
  32. 32. what they are and how to find them what they look like and how to make them the elements: the connections: which means the 4 things you need to know are…
  33. 33. the elements: what they are
  34. 34. an example from the world of advertising
  35. 35. http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  36. 36. Daaad, why’d they build the Great Wall of China? it was to, erm, to keep the rabbits out... too many rabbits in China (teacher – off screen) now, Daniel’s going to give his talk on China http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  37. 37. http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  38. 38. the ad agency identified a barrier to their objective at the time, a lot of people didn’t see why they needed broadband http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  39. 39. if your audience doesn’t care about what you have to say, you need to find something they do care about
  40. 40. customer insight product truth competitor insight http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  41. 41. customer insight product truth competitor insight parents want the best for their children and worry about them being left behind at school http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  42. 42. customer insight product truth competitor insight broadband gives you faster access to a wealth of information http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  43. 43. customer insight product truth competitor insight competitor messaging at the time was focused on coverage and price http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  44. 44. customer insight product truth competitor insight resonant relevant different http://www.bwm.com.au/category/work/bigpond/
  45. 45. here’s an example from our own work
  46. 46. the client provides insurance for small business owners
  47. 47. but nobody wants to talk about insurance
  48. 48. customer insight competitor insight product truth a lot of small business owners still wanted to know what they should be doing with social media
  49. 49. customer insight competitor insight product truth the (content) competitors had guides which were too long, so unlikely to be read, and often left too many decisions up to the reader
  50. 50. customer insight competitor insight product truth insurance supports the interests of small business owners
  51. 51. we produced a series of visually concise guides for small business owners, which has been a very successful campaign http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/guide-to-social-media-success/
  52. 52. the elements: how to find them
  53. 53. the advertising industry uses focus groups to mine for insight in one focus group, a woman spoke of eating ice cream in intimate settings with her partner. the rest of the group gave a knowing giggle. that was the insight that launched an entire brand.
  54. 54. use the internet as your focus group
  55. 55. “love [your brand]” “hate [your brand]” “love [your competitor]” “hate [your competitor]” “love [category]” “hate [category]”
  56. 56. “love [your brand]” “hate [your brand]” “love [your competitor]” “hate [your competitor]” “love [category]” “hate [category]” this is just one example. there are loads of ways you can use search and social media to find out how people feel. think creatively about it.
  57. 57. one important thing to note
  58. 58. it’s not about the product
  59. 59. it’s not about the product Red Bull does not make content about caffeinated drinks. the content is about energy, adrenaline and pushing life to the limits.
  60. 60. It’s not about the product you need to think laterally about your brand
  61. 61. It’s not about the product but what does that mean?
  62. 62. a quick example
  63. 63. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled
  64. 64. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled map out associations with your product and brand
  65. 65. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled you should separate creative and analytical mode. creative mode is fast and intuitive. analytical mode is slow and deliberate. if you try to do both at the same time, it can lead to writer’s block.
  66. 66. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled at the time, I had no idea where to go next from ‘simplicity’. rather than get stuck, I just hopped onto a new thread and kept moving.
  67. 67. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled you don’t want your content tied too closely to your product, but you don’t want the link to be tenuous. don’t worry about this while you’re free-associating. you want to keep creative mode and analytical mode separate, remember.
  68. 68. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled wait, how did we go from soap to hair? isn’t that wrong? when you’re doing this, don’t think in terms of right and wrong. you can come back and edit later.
  69. 69. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled possible opportunity? women in business is a hot topic
  70. 70. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather flying bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands power tangled consciously, I wasn’t sure why I made this leap, but it’s these unexpected connections that could lead somewhere
  71. 71. “of course, I’ve always taken a lot of notes… I mean you never know what the things going to be, do you? a little detail, somewhere down the line, makes you say [gasps]… …cracks the case wide open.” Rust, True Detective
  72. 72. stories are often misleading about the path actually taken
  73. 73. expand the number of elements you gather to give yourself the best chance of making a connection
  74. 74. the connections: what they look like
  75. 75. if I asked you to reassemble this car, could you do it?
  76. 76. what if you had taken a car apart before?
  77. 77. what if you had taken 10,20, or 100 cars apart?
  78. 78. what if you had taken 10,20, or 100 cars apart? it would significantly improve your chances of putting it together, right? that’s why it’s valuable to understand how great content (e.g. advertising) is constructed.
  79. 79. we’ve all seen this ad, but what were the insights that led to it?
  80. 80. customer insight competitor insight product truth a lot of customers were actually girls buying for their partner
  81. 81. customer insight competitor insight product truth the leading competitor focused on the unlikely guy getting the girl, but the customer (the girl) doesn’t want the unlikely guy, she wants A MAN!
  82. 82. customer insight competitor insight product truth Old Spice was something your Dad wore. but what do you associate with your Dad? he comes from a time when men were men!
  83. 83. wolf in wolf’s clothing
  84. 84. wolf in wolf’s clothing this was the headline on a billboard I saw in London recently
  85. 85. wolf in wolf’s clothing how would you deconstruct this ad?
  86. 86. competitor insight product truth customer insight BMW’s main competitor is Mercedes, who make high-performance cars, typically with an elegant or stately image (a wolf in sheep’s clothing?)
  87. 87. competitor insight product truth customer insight the new BMW M3 is a very muscular high-performance car (a wolf in wolf’s clothing)
  88. 88. competitor insight product truth customer insight but what do you suppose was the customer insight that led to this idea?
  89. 89. competitor insight product truth customer insight hint: huge billboards of this ad were placed on the main roads to the financial district in London
  90. 90. got it?
  91. 91. they all want to be this guy (or a lot of them do)
  92. 92. the connections: how to make them
  93. 93. ever wracked your brains trying to remember someone’s name, only to have it pop into your mind when you’re having a shower? http://www.amazon.com/Technique-Producing-Ideas-James-Young/dp/1477428690
  94. 94. there is a natural process for making connections that we can use to our advantage http://www.amazon.com/Technique-Producing-Ideas-James-Young/dp/1477428690
  95. 95. information saturation incubation illumination verification
  96. 96. information we’ve already discussed gathering lots of information
  97. 97. saturation
  98. 98. saturation you need to actively force connections. doing this physically is faster, and it gets the elements outside your head, freeing you up to focus on the connections between them.
  99. 99. saturation you will hit a wall. push through it. you’ll get a second wind. when you hit another wall, it may be appropriate to stop.
  100. 100. incubation
  101. 101. incubation you need to actively disengage. go and do something that fully absorbs your attention.
  102. 102. incubation I experienced this recently when I got absorbed in a conversation in the pub. it genuinely wasn’t the beer that led to the breakthrough (sadly).
  103. 103. illumination illumination
  104. 104. illumination illumination we can’t wait around for the light bulb moment, but we can jump start the process
  105. 105. illumination illumination after a period of incubation and preferably a night’s sleep…
  106. 106. illumination illumination write the question you’re trying to solve at the top of the page, and as quickly as you can, write down 20-30 answers
  107. 107. illumination illumination first thing in the morning can be a great time to do this
  108. 108. illumination illumination writing deliberately bad answers can be a good trick if you get stuck
  109. 109. verification
  110. 110. verification you need to verify your ideas. the easiest way to do this is to tell people and watch their reaction.
  111. 111. verification we were thinking of doing a grammar quiz. we emailed our colleagues for input. it turned into the longest email thread in our company’s history. we figured we were onto something.
  112. 112. verification note: we didn’t say ‘we’re doing a grammar quiz, what do you think?’
  113. 113. verification if you’re met with confusion or indifference, that means one of 2 things. you don’t have an idea or you haven’t articulated it in the right way. you have to judge which it is.
  114. 114. start small
  115. 115. product truth customer insight competitor insight our client sold a large range of products for going back to school. when we thought of going back to school, we thought of exams, and different subjects like English, which led us to grammar.
  116. 116. product truth customer insight competitor insight content about grammatical errors like this piece from the Oatmeal, can do extremely well online. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling
  117. 117. product truth customer insight competitor insight we thought about a quiz, so checked what had been done. the Guardian & Telegraph both had popular quizzes, but they weren’t brilliantly executed. http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/quiz/2013/feb/04/grammar-punctuation-quiz-test
  118. 118. 46,000 likes (grammar quiz - not provided) under NDA(non-disclosure agreement)
  119. 119. but, isn’t it all just luck?
  120. 120. yes, but only in the sense that the more you practise (and prepare), the luckier you get
  121. 121. and yes, ideas are serendipitous, but you can manufacture serendipity
  122. 122. and, yes, sometimes you just get lucky! http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/25/the-age-of-acquisitions/
  123. 123. we were working on this content when Facebook acquired Whatsapp http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/25/the-age-of-acquisitions/
  124. 124. we quickly included the new dataset and launched it http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/25/the-age-of-acquisitions/
  125. 125. we secured a front page exclusive with TechCrunch http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/25/the-age-of-acquisitions/
  126. 126. remember the grammar quiz we spoke about? we launched that on national grammar day without even realising! http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/25/the-age-of-acquisitions/
  127. 127. 10 steps to producing better ideas
  128. 128. 1. learn about the thinking behind the ads http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Lies-Advertising-Account-Planning/dp/0471189626
  129. 129. 2. mine the web for insight
  130. 130. Dove soap dove soap simplicity Italy song opera split ends flowers iris lily scent bubbles lather bird hair care presentation finish hair olive branch peace pond strands 3. think laterally about your brand
  131. 131. 4. try to force connections http://www.amazon.com/Gamestorming-Playbook-Innovators-Rulebreakers-Changemakers/dp/0596804172
  132. 132. 5. actively disengage
  133. 133. 6. jump start the light bulb
  134. 134. 7. verify your ideas http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287
  135. 135. information saturation incubation illumination verification 8. iterate
  136. 136. 9. start small the idea of a grammar quiz is not nearly as profound as some of the advertising ideas we discussed
  137. 137. 10. practise practise taking ideas apart and putting together your own
  138. 138. 10. practise brainstorming once a month and saying you’re not creative is like going to the gym once a month and wondering why you don’t have a six pack
  139. 139. if you practise, practise, practise, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of success
  140. 140. create your own luck
  141. 141. good luck!
  142. 142. p.s. you should read these books @epicgraphic

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