How to Run an Effective Content Brainstorm  | RedPandas Digital
content brainstorm

How to Run an Effective Content Brainstorm 

Feeling stuck in a creative rut when it comes to brainstorming content for your marketing strategy? You’re not alone. Every marketing leader, at one point or another, has struggled with getting their team’s creative juices flowing. But don’t worry, you’re about to discover a proven, step-by-step approach to running a successful content brainstorming session that will keep the innovative ideas flowing in your team.

Feeling stuck in a creative rut when it comes to brainstorming content for your marketing strategy? You’re not alone. Every marketing leader, at one point or another, has struggled with getting their team’s creative juices flowing. But don’t worry, you’re about to discover a proven, step-by-step approach to running a successful content brainstorming session that will keep the innovative ideas flowing in your team. 

Picture this: Many years ago, we found ourselves at the dawn of our marketing journey, wide-eyed and eager, but often puzzled by the mountainous challenge of generating fresh, compelling content. We’d sit in conference rooms, coffee mugs steaming and notepads poised, wrestling with the very problem you face today: how to transform a blank slate into a vibrant tapestry of ideas. 

We made mistakes and stumbled on roadblocks, but every challenge served as a stepping stone, propelling us further on our path to understanding. As we journeyed on, we began to carve out a distinct set of steps, each like a key, capable of unlocking the door to a treasure trove of content possibilities. 

Now, looking back, we see the transformative power of the content brainstorming practices we’ve developed, not just on our content strategy, but on our teams. We’ve walked in your shoes, navigated the terrain, and felt the pressures you face.  

Our journey has led us to this point, where we can confidently share these keys with you, to help you unlock your content potential and bolster your marketing efforts. Trust us when we say, the treasure of content ideas you seek is well within your reach. 

So, if you’re a senior marketing leader eager to improve your content brainstorming process and ignite your team’s creativity, you’re in the right place. It’s time to stop dreading brainstorming sessions and start harnessing their full potential. 

Step #1: Aligning Sales and Marketing 

The first step to an effective content brainstorming session hinges on the alignment of your marketing and sales teams.  

meme of sales and marketing in alignment

Your sales representatives are on the battleground every day, interacting with prospects and handling their questions. These interactions are a goldmine of content ideas waiting to be tapped into, as the content you produce should ultimately aim to answer these prospect questions. 

If you want to build trust and become the most trusted authority in your industry, you need to be answering prospect questions with content – and collaboration between your sales and marketing teams is the best way to do this.  

But how does this alignment translate to benefits for your organisation?  

Think about it this way. Your sales and marketing teams, when collaborating to brainstorm content ideas, are united in their pursuit of a common objective—increasing revenue. But this doesn’t mean that they are stepping on each other’s toes or getting distracted from their core duties. 

Your marketing team, for instance, still holds the reins when it comes to managing content strategy and resources.  

The key difference here is a shift in mindset. No longer is content created for the sake of creation. Instead, each piece of content is crafted with the primary goal of driving revenue by answering real prospect questions that come up in sales calls.  

This sales-influenced ideation and production process can be transformative, sparking a myriad of benefits. By aligning sales and marketing in your content brainstorming sessions, you can: 

  • Generate a never-ending supply of content ideas 
  • Attract higher-quality leads that resonate with the content crafted based on actual customer interactions 
  • Free up your sales representatives’ time by using content to address frequently asked questions 
  • Shorten the sales cycle and boost sales through targeted, purposeful content 
  • Create a happier, more cohesive team environment, reducing employee turnover 
  • Gain clear visibility into the ROI each piece of content is generating 

In essence, aligning your sales and marketing teams is a game-changer for your content brainstorming sessions, setting the stage for more meaningful, effective content that drives revenue.  

Step #2: Have a Plan Before the Meeting 

For any meeting to be impactful, a well-thought-out plan is indispensable. This becomes even more crucial for a content brainstorming session.  

You want your brainstorming to be not only efficient but also insightful, shedding light on those tough questions your sales team grapples with daily. But you can only achieve this if you plan well.  

It’s tempting to jump straight into a brainstorming session once your marketing and sales teams are aligned, but this is bound to lead to failure. Planning your session before the meeting is a crucial step to brainstorming content effectively.  

Here’s how you can craft a successful plan: 

  1. Choose your participants wisely  
  2. Craft a compelling value proposition 
  3. Define success 
  4. Set a timeframe 
  5. Draft the agenda 
  6. Establish the ‘Adult Agreement’ 

Let’s delve into each of these.  

1. Choose Your Participants Wisely 

meme of "choose wisely" text on screen with image of soldier

Effective brainstorming isn’t just about the number of participants but also their relevance. In the case of content brainstorming, this means roping in key members from the sales and marketing teams as well as relevant subject matter experts.  

Sales personnel are your customer whisperers, while the marketing team excels in dissecting those customer voices into actionable content ideas. And subject matter experts bring insights and ideas that only a person with very specialist knowledge can do.  

For larger, multi-divisional organisations, it can be fruitful to conduct separate brainstorming sessions for each division. This approach ensures that the content produced is laser-focused on aiding the sales team for a specific product or service. 

2. Craft a Compelling Value Proposition 

Meme joking about not having to worry about the value proposition if you dont have one

Make it clear that their participation in this meeting isn’t just a corporate formality. It benefits the organisation’s bottom line and has the potential to accelerate the sales cycle.  

Emphasise that the content generated from these meetings will equip the sales team to answer customer queries more effectively, thereby closing deals quicker. 

You’ll find that when the whole team understands the impact that the brainstorming session can have on the organisation, they’ll take it more seriously and they’ll feel more compelled to contribute.  

3. Define Success 

What does a successful brainstorming session look like?  

Having a clear answer to this question is essential for setting expectations and driving outcomes. For instance, you might set a goal to identify three pivotal questions typically raised mid-sales process, with the aim of creating content that addresses these queries and propels customers further down the sales funnel. 

4. Set a Timeframe 

Effective brainstorming isn’t about endurance; it’s about focus.  

Let your participants know that the session will be time-bound, perhaps as short as 20 minutes. Respect those boundaries to cultivate trust. Also, establish the periodicity of these sessions—fortnightly or monthly—to maintain a consistent flow of fresh, relevant content. 

5. Draft the Agenda 

A structured agenda can guide your brainstorming session seamlessly. This may include discussing previously published content, the content in the pipeline, the performance of existing content, and new questions emerging in the sales process.  

Not sure where to start with an agenda? You can check out an example agenda here.

free content brainstorming agenda document

A practical agenda that you can use right away might look like this:  

  • How has the previously published content (written and video) been performing for sales?  
  • What questions are you currently being asked by buyers in the sales process that should have a piece of content created for it? 
  • What questions do you get asked that immediately indicate the buyer is not close to ready to make a decision?  
  • What do your clients and buyers push back on the most?  
  • What are your buyer’s biggest doubts or worries (with respect to the product, the process, the company)?  
  • What do your buyers have to convince the key decision-makers of? 

6. Establish the ‘Adult Agreement’ 

At its core, a brainstorming session should be a safe space for everyone to express their ideas openly. This requires mutual trust, respect, and honesty.  

An ‘Adult Agreement’ can help foster this environment by reminding everyone that they’re all working towards a common goal. This is important because it helps foster a psychologically safe space regardless of the ideas that come out during the session. 

An Adult Agreement should happen at the start of your meeting. The organiser of the meeting should state that there is ‘no such thing as silly ideas or silly questions, and all comments, thoughts and ideas are welcomed’. By starting with this, you will ensure your meeting is productive, inclusive, and impactful. Once you’ve done this, then it’s time to run your content brainstorming session. 

Step #3: How to Run a Content Brainstorming Session 

Once the planning is done, the next step is to dive into the brainstorming session itself.  

To get the most out of this collaborative process, you should come prepared with a selection of thought-provoking questions that can trigger discussions and idea generation.  

Here at RedPandas, we typically reserve most questions for the sales team, and depending on the dialogue, questions for subject matter experts too.  

Keep in mind that this isn’t a strict process – you can add your own questions or remove questions based on what is relevant for you and your team.  

Here’s a general process you can use (with example questions): 

1. Kick-Start the Conversation with the Sales Team 

Engaging the sales team in dialogue will help uncover a wealth of firsthand insights. Some questions to get the ball rolling include: 

  • What questions do you get asked that immediately indicate the buyer is not close to ready to make a decision?  
  • What are the common queries you receive that hint at an unqualified buyer? 
  • What do your clients and buyers push back on the most?  
  • What are your buyer’s biggest doubts or worries (with respect to the product, the process, the company)?  
  • What do your buyers have to convince the key decision-makers of?  

Answering these questions will result in content ideas. For example, a sales rep working for a Facebook Advertising company might answer the third question with “The customer is generally worried about the ROI on their ads. They’re worried about making a decision and not getting results.”  This is a content idea – the marketing team can produce content that explains the factors that influence ROI, as well as material sharing previous ROI results with similar clients.   

As you can see, by answering these questions, you’ll develop a list of relevant content ideas for marketing to produce. Now, instead of marketing coming up with the ideas, marketing and sales are working together to produce something that speaks directly to buyers. If you want to take this brainstorming to the next level, check out our guide on using the concept of the stages of customer awareness to brainstorm and organise content. 

2. Engage the Subject-Matter Experts 

After you’ve asked your sales reps the above key questions, it’s time to engage your subject matter experts. As individuals with in-depth knowledge of your products or services, subject matter experts can provide invaluable input.  

Here are a few questions to trigger their ideas: 

  • What information from customers helps you create the best solution for their problem? 
  • What do you wish the salespeople asked the customer? 
  • What is the question you get asked the most? 
  • What is a challenge that takes too much of your time? 

3. Ask Follow-Up Questions 

It’s important to actually test the quality of each content idea before using it in the process. You can use this process as part of the brainstorming meeting, or you can separate it into your own meeting – it totally depends on you!   

Here’s how you can test the quality of each content idea – for every content idea, ask the following questions:   

  • Is this a real question being asked? This sounds like a silly question, but you’ll find that your sales team will, more often than not, give you questions that they say their prospects are asking, but in reality, it’s really just questions that they wished their prospects were asking.  
  • Is this the EXACT question being asked, in the words of the prospect? Or have you reworded it in any way, based on what you know the actual problem is? NOTE it should always be in the words of your prospect, and paraphrasing SHOULD NOT occur.  
  • Why are they asking this question? Did they ask this proactively? Or is it in response to something we told them, asked them to do, or something else? Is it a question in response to us saying no to something?  
  • When are they asking this question in the sales process? Is it always at a particular stage of the sales process? Is there no specific time, just a general question that comes up randomly? 

4. Evaluate the Revenue Potential of Each Content Idea 

Every piece of content should have a potential return on investment. Therefore, you should assess whether the content will help address customer objections and, consequently, smooth their purchase journey. You could discuss this in an open format discussion with the sales team in your brainstorming session. 

5. Using the Content Sandbox Tool 

Lastly, you can also use the Content Sandbox tool we’ve developed to facilitate brainstorming.  

This tool can help direct the flow of ideas, keeping your team focused on addressing those critical questions that emerge during the sales process. 

You can access the tool here. Also, below is a video explanation showing you how you can use the tool. 

By utilising these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to lead a productive and efficient brainstorming session. By the end of the session, you should have a plethora of content ideas – we find that after content brainstorming sessions, we often have enough content ideas to last 6 months.  

This doesn’t mean we don’t brainstorm more often than this, but it just gives you an idea of how powerful these sessions can be when you ask the right questions to the right team members.  

Step #4: Have a Clear Follow Up Plan 

After a successful brainstorming session, it’s crucial not to lose momentum.  

The key to this is having a comprehensive follow-up strategy in place. This strategy involves establishing an effective internal communication system and keeping your team informed about the content’s progress and impact. 

There are three general rules you can follow to achieve this:  

  • Establish a Functional Internal Communication System: Your team’s communication method should reflect your team’s working style and preferences. Whether it’s sharing a document and integrating it with project management tools like Basecamp, Slack, or Microsoft Teams, choose a method that fits seamlessly into your daily operations. Remember, over-communication is better than under-communication, especially when you’re implementing a new workflow or approach 
  • Update Your Team on Content Progress and Performance: Everyone who participated in the brainstorm should be notified when the content is published. But don’t stop there. Share insights on the content’s performance, such as engagement metrics and lead generation statistics. By doing so, you’ll give everyone a sense of their contribution’s tangible impact 
  • Share the Revenue or Sales Impact of the Content: Perhaps the most exciting part of the follow-up process is demonstrating how the content has contributed to the company’s bottom line. Whether it’s led to direct sales, nurtured leads towards conversion, or even fostered better customer relationships, share these results with your team 

This level of transparency not only keeps everyone in the loop but also strengthens the sense of collective accomplishment.  

The shared ownership of the content’s success will fuel your team’s enthusiasm for future brainstorming sessions, fostering a cycle of creative thinking and tangible results. 

Not sure how to update your team on content? Here’s an example of a content report you can use: 

revenue content update for revenue team meetings

To start, your report could be a lot more basic and shorter but the above gives you a good idea of where these reports can eventually evolve to.  

Step #5: Holding Ongoing Content Brainstorming Sessions 

Brainstorming isn’t a one-and-done event.  

The content landscape is dynamic, so should be your brainstorming sessions. Holding regular meetings allows you to stay ahead of your audience’s evolving needs, preferences, and questions. 

The frequency of these meetings can vary depending on your organisation’s pace and the marketplace’s volatility. Some teams might benefit from fortnightly meetings, while others may find a monthly cadence more suitable.  

The key is to establish a rhythm that keeps your content strategy fresh without overwhelming your team, and then sticking to that rhythm. 

During these meetings, review the performance of the content developed from previous sessions, discuss the current sales environment, and identify new content opportunities. This iterative process ensures that your content remains relevant and continues to support your sales team effectively. 

Get External Help with Running Content Brainstorming Sessions 

There may come a point when you wish to inject fresh perspectives into your brainstorming sessions or need expert assistance in running them effectively.  

Coaches that specialise in content strategy and sales can provide a wealth of insights and techniques to invigorate your sessions. They can help you uncover hidden content opportunities, overcome brainstorming challenges, and optimise your sessions for better outcomes. 

At RedPandas we offer a ‘They Ask, You Answer’ Workshop, which is aimed at helping you align marketing and sales and run an effective content brainstorming session. If you would like more information on these workshops, get in touch with us here. 

In conclusion, running an effective content brainstorming session is a strategic endeavor that requires alignment across teams, a clear plan, efficient execution, a robust follow-up system, and periodic meetings. With these steps in place, you can ensure that your sessions yield high-quality content that supports your sales process and contributes to revenue growth. 

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