3 Unexpected Places to Find New Content Sources

This post was written by John White on Mon, 13 Sep 2010 17:57:09 +0000
Posted Under: blog,marketing communications writer,marketing manager,white papers

Not all content sources are as obvious as your boss’ meeting notes. Smart marketing managers look for content ideas in other places as well.

Looking under rocks for content sourcesIt’s the beginning of the week, and time to round up some meat to feed the content beast in your organization. Do you keep sending your marketing communications writers back to the same sources for ideas, like industry reports from MarketingCharts and articles on iMedia Connection?

Try looking under a few new rocks.

Trip reports as content sources

I’m reading a fat book on General Douglas MacArthur: American Caesar by William Manchester. If you know anything about the General, it’s probably that he wasn’t encumbered by modesty. He enjoyed language and wasn’t afraid to use it.

With a sudden vacancy in their ranks, the members of the 1928 American Olympic Committee asked MacArthur if he wanted to be their president. Facing a dismal paucity of war opportunities, MacArthur seized on this and ended up inspiring U.S. athletes to set 17 records and win more contests in Amsterdam than the next two countries combined. He turned his trip report for President Coolidge into a blustering missive into which any marketing manager would gladly sink his or her teeth:

In undertaking this difficult task, I recall the passage in Plutarch wherein Themistocles, being asked whether he would rather be Achilles or Homer, replied, ‘Which would you rather be: a conqueror in the Olympic Games, or the crier who proclaims who are the conquerors?’ And indeed to portray adequately the vividness and brilliance of that great spectacle would be worthy even of the pen of Homer himself. No words of mine can even remotely portray such great moments as the reisistless onrush of that matchless California eight as it swirled and crashed down the placid waters of the Sloten; that indomitable will for victory which marked the deathless rush of Barbuti; that sparkling combination of speed and grace by Elizabeth Robinson which might have rivaled even Artemis herself on the heights of Olympus…

Obviously, MacArthur had his reader’s attention and opportunely hammed it up, but look at how clever he was in interweaving his own trip report with the Hellenic character of the games themselves.

Even if the people your company is shuttling around the world are not as eloquent as the General, they do have stories. Whether they survive to see the light of your blog is up to you.

Status reports as content sources

When it comes to this category of business writing, most managers probably paraphrase Groucho Marx:

I thought my razor was dull until I read that report.

The writer tries to avoid admitting mistakes and schedule slips, and the reader scans the report for red flags, as well as content for his/her own status report, which another manager will in turn decry as boring.

Still, a clever marketing manager will spot details in the status reports that may add up to trends:

  • Why are we working so much on our Oracle implementation?
  • Why is there such a scramble for talent in the Shanghai office?
  • What did we learn from the Romanian partners who visited?

Naturally, you can’t publish everything, but censorship is part of your job anyway, and it’s the source of ideas that’s important. What if you pulled this into a weekly blog post called

Here’s What the Hell We Did this Week

You may – ahem – season to taste.

CRM logs as content sources

This one is bound to make you friends. Take the elevator down to the third level of the Inferno, where your nameless, faceless colleagues with headsets and cush balls listen to what real people say about your products and services all day long. If you can’t get content ideas from them, then you’re really not trying.

Read between the lines of what prospects are asking you and customers are telling you. Search for stories they’re trying to tell you. Look at how long the logs are: is that a story about lengthened sales cycles? Are they using your products in unexpected ways? Mine those for customer success stories.

Keep the “R” (relationship) in “CRM” (customer relationship management). Your relationships with your customers are the stuff of marketing communications and content, so don’t lose sight of them.

Those are a few unexpected places in which to find ideas for new content. The enterprising marketing manager will figure out incentives by which to turn this effort into a contest for employees.

Where are you looking for new content ideas?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Klearchos Kaputsis

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