Few people argue with the value of creating regular content – more prospects, more Web traffic, more thought leadership and a better-educated set of prospects are just a few of the benefits regular bloggers enjoy.
A primary hurdle I hear from many would-be bloggers and innovators is content or solution inspiration.
So where do you find new blog post ideas? The answer is all around you. Experienced bloggers will tell you that they’re bombarded with possible blog topics. Their challenge isn’t finding topics, but choosing the best on which to focus.
But this article isn’t just for content creators, but innovators as well because these sources for inspiration apply to innovation as well.
Here are ten sources of blog post and innovation inspiration I use most often. Some I do actively seek out, but all of them take very little time and produce an ongoing source of inspiration and content.
1. Customer Questions
Every day you’re answering questions from customers and prospects – via email, phone, in-person, and in your social networks. Inherent in many of your answers is the subject-matter expertise that people want from you. Every time you answer a question, it’s a potential blog post or innovation. Think about it.
2. Stuff You Read
Doesn’t matter what you’re reading. Books, other blogs, magazines, even advertisements. What’s your reaction? Do you agree or disagree? What’s your take? Blog post.
3. People You Disagree With
Someone says something in a meeting you think is wrong. Why do you disagree? Blog post. You read about a business or business leader who prioritizes something you think is taking them down the wrong path. Blog post. Innovation.
4. Your Customer-Facing Teams
If you’re not on the daily front lines with your customers, someone at your organization is. Your sales team, customer service team, support team. What are they hearing from customers? What issues are affecting their lives or businesses? What’s keeping them up at night and getting them up in the morning? Blog posts. Innovation.
5. Trade Press
You don’t have to read everything. Just flip through the magazines, scan the online headlines. You’ll find news stories, features, opinion pieces, trends, quotes from other thought leaders. Just keep asking yourself: What do I think of this? What would my customers think? How could I help my customers understand or navigate this issue?
6. Conferences, Panels and Webinars
I come back from conferences with pages of potential blog posts. Not just from the speakers and panels, but from the trade show floor, the sales & marketing techniques other exhibitors use to try and woo me, and the new people I meet.
7. Twitter Hashtags
Take a keyword relevant to you, your business or your customers. Put a hashtag in front of it, and do a search on search.twitter.com. See what other people are talking about, right now.
8. LinkedIn Answers
Find the topics and sub-topics most relevant to your business and customers, and sign up for daily email summaries. It’s like getting a whole list of possible blog posts in your inbox every day.
9. The News
Scan MSNBC.com. Have the local news on in the background as you make dinner. I can’t remember the last time I read (or even scanned) the Wall Street Journal without coming up with at least 3-4 topics to blog about.
10. Things You See That are Dumb
Other people’s marketing. Management mistakes. Examples of inefficiency or thoughtlessness or lazy execution. Some people don’t know better. Help them get better.
Now I know I have focused mostly on how these sources relate to blogging, but many of them relate to stimulating or evolving your innovation efforts as well. You may need to be proactive and intentional about using some of these sources at first. But once you build the habit, it’ll become natural. The day you see or read something and automatically think to yourself, “wow, that would make a good blog post,” or “here is an innovation opportunity” then you’re in.
Matt Heinz is principal at Heinz Marketing, a sales & marketing consulting firm helping businesses increase customers and revenue. Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.heinzmarketing.com.