American author Sue Grafton once said, “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”
Basically, anyone can have an idea. But transforming that idea into an engaging, impactful, measurable piece of content that’s going to help you build both brand awareness and your sales funnel… Well, that’s a little trickier.
At ULab we apply our secret sauce to every ideation project we do. That is, pairing data with a kick-ass journalist who has honed their ideation skills over years of practice, and can turn an idea into a consumer-led, content-marketing dream.
While using data to create better content is just one of our proven approaches, there’s a skill-set to the ideation phase that deserves closer attention.
One of ULab’s journalists extraordinaire, Tracy McBeth, has honed her ideating skills for almost 10 years.
She’s already written the playbook on how to write like a journalist. This time, she shares the secret to consumerising ideas that ultimately command audience attention.
1. Find your source
Story ideas are everywhere, and every one of us is a storyteller in our day-to-day life. But where do you start?
Data and search information is the best way to determine exactly who your audience is, what they’re looking for and how you can help them.
Instead of wasting time searching for ideas on what you hope your audience wants, it allows you to ideate content that’s specifically tailored to a consumer need or opportunity.
One of the best signs that you’re onto a great yarn is that it’s interesting enough to share with a friend or retell at a dinner party. If something sticks with you, chances are it’s a good story.
Story ideas can come from conversations with friends, family, colleagues or customers. They might be based on research or data, customer insights, feedback or an inspiring speech.
An idea might stem from an overheard conversation, your own personal experience or a personal passion or interest.
Another die-hard source is timing. Aside from the well-known holidays of Christmas Day or Good Friday, there’s now a special day for just about everything, thanks to some clever marketing. Case in point: April 25 is Zucchini Bread Day. Seriously. Calendars of significant days can be a useful starting point for ideation.
2. Think like your audience
There’s one question that echoes around newsrooms every day, and that’s: Why would Mary from Melton or Bob from Broadmeadows care?
You need to put yourself in your audiences’ shoes, know their situation, needs, pain points and interests.
Consider how you might not only pique their interest but also add value to their lives through content.
If readers see themselves in the content, they will organically engage with it on a much deeper level.
3. Use news values
The secret to sourcing great stories is to understand the essential ingredients of storytelling.
The media industry relies on news values to determine what makes the cut.
4. Show humanity by sharing personal stories
Never underestimate the power of a personal story and a real voice.
Just look at the way Australians come together after a natural disaster or rally around a family who has been affected by grief or tragedy. Hearing real people’s stories affects us in visceral way. It taps into something deep inside, and propels us into action.
5. Turn business stories into consumer stories
Brands are always excited to share business stories and successes. But transforming them into consumer stories will make them more impactful than simple facts and figures.
If a brand has released a new report or a new program, try finding a consumer who can share their story on what it means to them and others.
6. Be clear on the content’s purpose and next step
While both brands and newsrooms are vying for audience attention, the very distinct difference is that brands aren’t simply sharing a good yarn to engage and inform readers.
Underneath a genuine desire to provide engaging and valuable content is a brand’s ambition to build its audience and reputation, and ultimately drive commercial outcomes.