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Field Notes

Field Notes #027: Content Brainstorming in a World of ‘Doing More with Less’

content brainstorming in a world of ‘doing more with less'

Marketing teams across tech are facing cut budgets and trimmed headcounts. We’re in the same boat, and we’ve talked extensively about this on our podcast and with our team.

Many teams, namely Content, are being asked to ‘do more with less’—less budget, less tooling, fewer writers. 

It’s tempting to close up the content shop and focus energy elsewhere, but we strongly recommend against that. Why? Your competitors are doing that, meaning there will be less competition on the SERPs, too. 

Instead of ceasing production, consider ways to work smarter:

However, when it comes to generating content ideas, how do you hack the brainstorming process?

If you’re staring into the abyss of 2023 and unsure what your business’s content roadmap will look like, this newsletter is for you. Our team is well-versed in generating unique, impactful content ideas as we build year-long roadmaps for every client.

Some of our research revolves around Ahrefs and deep competitor analysis—a common approach to SEO content strategy. 

But this process yields only so many keywords and topics, and some can be redundant or already published. Moreover, the results are limited to what competitors are already writing about and what customers are already searching for.

What if your business operates in a blue ocean with few high-volume keywords and competitors? What if you want to focus on low-volume, BOFU keywords or pain-point SEO with the goal of converting blog traffic into leads and customers?

Competitors and their keyword choices can only inform your content strategy so much. You don’t always have to match your competitors to beat them.

Let’s talk about how we generate new content ideas alongside competitive analysis and tools like Ahrefs:

1. Talk to Sales and Customer Service/Success to understand how prospects and customers describe the product and their experience with it

This tells you how customers search for solutions and their language when discussing a product and features with others. This can inform new keywords to target and queries to answer through content. It can also give you more insight into how customers define themselves and their relationship with a tool or product category.

For example, we learned that Jasper customers love how the tool helps them combat the “loneliness of being a freelancer or solopreneur.” This tidbit has nothing to do with the product features but has strongly influenced our content topics and how we relate to the audience in each post.

2. Take product demos and sign-up for free trials and freemium plans to better understand product features and how they translate to benefits and solutions (and search queries)

Many product-led content strategies focus on features over benefits. Yet, customers rarely know what features they desire in a new product or tool—they focus on the benefit and solution. 

By indexing on the keywords and topics related to benefits, you’re likely to catch someone with commercial or transactional search intent—a much more potent mindset than when searching informationally.

For example, we could market our services at Omniscient by listing what we deliver: blog posts, fully-managed content production, a brilliantly awesome team… you get it. But it’s way more interesting and impactful to tell potential clients that we “develop content that drives business growth and revenue.” The outcome is what they care most about, after all.

3. Chat with real customers, as queries vary between and within companies. What a decision-maker searches can be wildly different from what the end user and/or champion search

The same variation applies to how different companies use different words to describe tools, products, and platforms.

For example, what one content team calls “content operations,” another may call “content production.”

4. Scour social media, discussion forums, and review sites

This gives you insight into how people discuss problems, source solutions, and ask questions. This surfaces new vernacular and language, similar to the process in step one, but it does so by observing attitudes and opinions expressed in the wild. People are always talking about their pain points on Reddit, Hacker News, communities and Slack groups, Facebook groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, and product review sites.

Bonus: This also provides content distribution and promotion ideas once the content goes live.

How is your team drumming up content ideas this year…outside of traditional keyword research? Reply and let me know!

1. The 10 Building Blocks of B2B SEO Strategy – If growing organic traffic is your goal, the above brainstorming ideas should complement your SEO strategy, not replace it. This article is a foundational deep dive into B2B SEO.

2. How to Build Authority Through Content Curation – Net new content ideas aren’t the only way to build an audience. In this article, David walks you through how to leverage content curation to become a trusted source of curated information that your readers can’t get elsewhere.

3. How to Align Your SEO and Sales Teams – A lot of blogs discuss Sales and Marketing alignment, but I’ve yet to find many on Sales and SEO alignment. This article is a good starting point!

Allie Decker

Allie is co-founder and Head of Client Success at Omniscient Digital. She previously led content initiatives at HubSpot and Shopify.