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We all struggle for content ideas from time to time, where a blank page and a deadline combine to give you a big headache.

If you’re wondering what you should, or could be writing to fuel your content marketing machine here are a few simple sources of great content.

Email responses

There’s a pretty good chance you’re writing at least one email a week that could be edited into a blog or form part of a guide. If you’ve written more than two paragraphs in reply to an email question you’ve probably got a pretty good start for your next piece of content marketing.

Phone calls

Just like the above, if you’ve been talking to someone for more than a few minutes, you’re probably covering a subject that would make an interesting blog or guide for your customers and prospects. Get a whiteboard for your sales and support teams and ask them to write down all the questions they get asked. Something as simple as “why are you so expensive?” can turn into a great post about why quality matters in your industry (or why buying in the UK is more expensive but means the customer receives a better quality product).

The party introduction

You do this all the time. You’re at a party or networking meeting and you’re speaking to someone new. How do you introduce yourself? What questions does the person ask you? How do you respond? This conversation is probably full of relevant content ideas you could use.
Your in-house training

Most businesses have some form of staff training. If you cover a range of topics relating to your specific segment, you could easily adapt these into content for your clients and prospects. I’m always stunned by how many businesses have internal training, which includes all the juicy interesting bits, but they never share that knowledge with clients and prospects.

Think about those tricks and short cuts you train your staff on. This type of content can be very successful indeed, just look at all the 'insider secrets' blogs out there.

A working example — the opportunity missed

I’m off on holiday this week and it’s my first time travelling long-haul with my 19 month-old son. We decided to travel Virgin Airways as we believe they offer the best customer service and we really want this to be a hassle free trip. Credit to the Virgin team, they have offered us great customer service but it could have been amazing. I had three specific problems I’m sure many parents have the first time they travel. Firstly, what to do about taking a pushchair and a car seat, second, what sort of meal to book for my little man, and finally, what on earth to do with him on the seven hour flight.

The first two were sorted by the customer service team during a courtesy call; however I had to probe for these, the last one I’ve been asking everyone I know ever since we booked the flights. This was the perfect chance for Virgin to wow me, to get me to talk to everyone about them. A simple guide to travelling with toddlers would have hit the mark. It could cover the main FAQs and maybe some inspiration for in-flight entertainment. Virgin, if you’re reading this, I’ll happily write a blog for you on my return!
Keep your eyes peeled

So you can see, there is inspiration all around us. If you want to create great content that works for your target audience just start listening and looking out for those FAQs — they are everywhere.

Ian Creek

Published 21 June, 2012 by Ian Creek

Ian Creek is Marketing Director at Rokk Media and a contributor to Econsultancy.

4 more posts from this author

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Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan, Senior Copywriter at Koozai

Inspiration for content can come from almost anywhere. Personal experiences, conversations with friends and your own frustrations. Some of my best ideas come from the most innocuous and irrelevant sources.

I think some writers get a little too caught up in thinking about reaching out to the biggest audience possible and going after topics that are so generic they just end up blending into the background. Sometimes your most random thoughts can become your inspiration for the best ideas.

Personally speaking, I jot down the occasional irritations, opinion or ideas as and when they hit me. After a while they evolve into something a bit more substantial. Excusing the plug, that's how big hulking posts like my last one come about - http://www.koozai.com/blog/search-marketing/37-reasons-your-online-marketing-strategy-is-failing/. I saw some people still recommending old techniques on blogs, commenting on Google Webmasters forum and used those (without direct references) to fuel the content.

Some very good suggestions though Ian, it's amazing where inspiration can strike.

about 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

"Get a whiteboard for your sales and support teams and ask them to write down all the questions they get asked."

I tell my clients the same thing. Just about every phone conversation has the nuggets of great content somewhere in there. Every question you get asked is the perfect starting point for a piece of content.

about 4 years ago

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Olga Spaic

Great ideas - love the last one about taking something from your personal life and blogging aboout it in the business context. Would love to see any updates from Virgin on "traveling with a toddler"... that one stumps so many of us!

about 4 years ago

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Melvin L. Magadia

I think it is important for all these factors to work hand in hand for content marketing to become more effective. Social media should be boosted with offline promotions.

about 4 years ago

James Perrin

James Perrin, Digital Communications Specialist at Feefo

Some good tips there Ian, thanks for sharing. I'm always looking out for content ideas, and find that keeping up-to-date with what's going on in the news really helps.

I don't just stick to one channel, one radio station or one website either. Rather, I find myself constantly flicking to see, hear and read a multitude of different stories - and then think how these can be used or adapted to create a variety of different content.

I'll certainly start thinking about your tips from now on though, cheers.

about 4 years ago

Ian Creek

Ian Creek, Marketing Director at Rokk Media

Thanks for the comments all. I've just landed in the states... still no offer from Virgin to write the blog... that said, I have a load of extra ideas post 8hrs on the flight.

about 4 years ago

Ian Creek

Ian Creek, Marketing Director at Rokk Media

Update . Virgin have said they will take up the content offer. Only just got to my tweets and there was one waiting for me from Virgin, including a link! Nice work Virgin, hats off to you! Oh... and the in flight service was great too... many businesses could learn from this!

about 4 years ago

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Beverly Potts

Working as an Internet marketer and blogger for about years now, I would have to say that it is indeed sometimes tiresome to think about new ideas for content. I guess the secret is to always keep yourself abreast with the latest information about marketing in general so you'll have a solid platform in which to build your comments or ideas from. Thanks for the pieces of advice. Do you have any for social media marketing?

about 4 years ago

Maria Wasing

Maria Wasing, VP of Marketing Europe at EPiServer

Thanks Ian, some good inspiration there! I work very similar to what you do, but also aspire to have a content strategy in place (which i have previously blogged about here on E-Consultancy). I find it helps me to maintain focus with creating new content over time. Do you have any tips to share on how you manage that?

I also got very inspired by the travel story and good work by Virgin. Recent trends within how travel companies can benefit from sharing content and communicating show that they can gain competitive advantage by catering to the three I's, Individualism ( provide a personalized experience), Immediacy (immediate response) and Inspiration and Inspiration (nspiring travellers according to location and context). Sounds like Virgin made the most of that opportunity and that you provided them with some great content and a personable story.

about 4 years ago

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