Agent Jack has been looking for ways to increase market share and reach people beyond his traditional advertising and networking. Recently he stumbled onto the concept of Content Marketing.
He got it!
Last week he needed help with a plumbing task and googled “how do I stop my toilet from running”. Google sent him to a Youtube video where a local plumber was walking him through the process of fixing his toilet. A week later an outside spigot froze up and he knew it was beyond his abilities, but remembered the guy on the video that had helped him. He picked up the phone and called Mr Youtube Plumber. By the next day all was working again, and Agent Jack had a plumber for life.
He has seen content marketing at work, and wants to use in his agency.
He contacts his tech guy and makes sure that he is able to generate “blog” content through his current website. Within days everything is setup and Jack is ready to start writing. He blocks off time in his schedule, closes the door, and puts his phone on “do not disturb”. His wordprocessor launches and suddenly a blank screen begins mocking him. His mind full of ideas begins to mirror the screen in front of him, and everything disappears.
An hour later, he manages to type a paragraph or two, but nothing that will satisfy this content machine he is trying to launch.
How will he ever feed this content monster that he just created?
Brainstorming–but not how you think.
Here are 7 ways to use brainstorming to create unlimited content:
1. Do It Alone. When you hear brainstorming, you probably imagine yourself trapped in a room with friends or worse–strangers. A white board is staring at your face. A grumpy facilitor with a red marker in hand is waiting for brilliant ideas to jump out at him so he can paint the board with ideas. Nothing happens. Crickets are chirpiring. Finally one brave soul chimes in and the crowd groans. Eventually momentum builds, but at the end of the session you wonder if anything creative really happened.
Guess what, science has proved your intuition correct.
Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, summarizes the science: “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone.”
Brainstorming works, but not like conventional wisdom has schooled us. Do it alone.
2. Use Your People. This sounds like I am totally backtracking on what I just said. I didn’t say brainstorm with people. I said use your people. Make them do it alone as well. Give them cues and questions to help spur thought, and ask them to spend twenty minutes one morning cranking out as many ideas as possible for potential posts.
The quote above from our eminent scientist had a portion deleted from the end of the sentence. Here it is:
“brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.”
Here’s the key. Let everyone brainstorm alone, but then bring your talent together to share their ideas. This will create robust lists of content and spur more thinking and further ideas. The reason this works is that the shy ones in the group are not bullied into silence by the more aggressive personality. All people generate ideas, and come to the table on some equal footing.
3. Give Rules. I have hinted at this, but here are the rules that I am suggesting. Ask yourself questions, but whatever you do don’t censor yourself. Write or type as fast as you can so your internal editor can’t grab your hand and stop you. Don’t worry if stupid or silly ideas start flowing from your pen. Don’t stop from chasing those rabbits and any weird thought that might come out of your head. You never know that it might spark something equally creative down the trail.
If you stop coming up with ideas, just keep writing. Start writing “I can’t think of anymore ideas, help, help, help.” Start repeating what you previously wrote but do it fast. I promise ideas will come. Give yourself a timer and one that ticks and the pressure will make things happen. This forces you to make things happen. Also have a list of topics or questions to help spur activity. The best rule is to do it fast, avoid censoring yourself, and editing what you say.
4. Use Your Customers. Questions are a way to use your customers. Have everyone think through the most recent and most common questions they get from customers and friends about insurance.
Think by product & niches: auto, home, umbrella, bops, etc. This is how you search in Google. You type in a questions you want solved.
This method won’t just give you great content ideas, but will provide you with the title for your posts. For example: “Should I get the insurance waiver from my rental car company?” “Why do I need flood if I don’t live near water?” “Why does credit affect my insurance price?” “Why is my neighbor’s insurance cheaper than mine when we have similar cars?”
This is almost limitless. Have staff begin recording all the questions, so you can begin answering in posts.
5. Solve Misunderstanding. Misunderstanding are really a subset of questions, but phrased slightly different. This difference can be incredibly effective. It allows you to pick up a topic, spin it, and come at a different angle.
What are the most common misunderstandings about insurance? Think claim time. This is where what someone thought might happen begins to differ from reality. You can really shine here, because some of their misunderstanding may have come from your competitor. This sets you as an expert in your field, and you can address not only customers, but your referral sources such as realtors and lenders.
6. Things You Wish Customers Knew. Here is another category that is full of possibilities.
What do you wish your customers knew about insurance before they bought? What do you wish they knew before they turned in a claim? What do you wish they knew that affect their insurance rate?
The other avenue to think of here is not merely your business of insurance, but you can talk about agency history, the unique background of employees and owners.
You can talk about what you wish people knew about their community. These kinds of posts bring personality and a level of humanity to your business so you don’t always look like you are pushing insurance down everyone’s throats.
7. Best Ofs. I stole this one directly from the mind of Marcus Sheridan. If you don’t follow his Sales Lion blog, you need to.
“Best ofs” are not necessarily insurance specific. Think about the things you and the people in your agency like about your city. What are the best restaurants in town? How about the best body shops, or electricians, or plumbers? This could be a time you pump up the businesses of your customers. You could write about the best vehicles for safety. Write on the best pieces of equipment to stop leaks in your pipes.
Once you start on the “best ofs” you will find tons of content.
8. Use The Calendar. Grab a calendar and begin thinking about what happens in January in our country, state or city then I write about it. How about driving in ice or snow? How to winterize?
What happens in February? A lot of jewelry is purchased. Write about how to cover expensive or non-expensive jewelry.
March? Talk about March Madness basketball. Go through every month, and I bet you can come up with calendar content with very little prompting.
Agent Jack finished this list of 7 and feels relief. The monster of content creation has been tamed, now that he has lists of potential posts to write. It may be years before the monster raises his ugly head looking to be fed.
The task of content creation can be overwhelming, but don’t let blank screens and whiteboards overwhelm you. Begin with a couple ideas and start creating topics and titles. You will be surprised how fast and easy the ideas come.
Lack of content will never be your excuse in your marketing journey.
If you create content today, what do you do to keep the pump primed and the ideas flowing?