How to get good ideas for your business blog: brains and noses

Business blogging can be a very lonely exercise when you’re trying to come up with fresh content on a daily or almost daily business and brainstorming is one way to speed up the flow of ideas.

The brainstorming technique has been around as a quick-fix way to generate ideas for a long time now, and even has been teleported into the hi-tech age with such methodology as Tony Buzan’s “Mind Mapping.”

Both hand-written and electronically generated spider charts plus various other systems have been developed which formalize what many people had been doing for decades anyway, which basically involved doodling on a piece of paper.

Verbal brainstorming is popular, too, especially in its form of “think tanks” and “retreats” often used by corporations and other organizations to whip their people up into a frenzy of new ideas that ultimately will benefit the organization, and – we assume – the recipients of its services. Whatever method suits you, beware of brainstorming for new ideas when the ground rules have not been set properly, though.

Brainstorming thunderstorm

I remember being asked to attend a brainstorming session for a very large chain of estate agencies (real estate brokers) some years ago. They had developed various new, hi-tech methods which bypassed many of the traditional ways of buying and selling homes and as such wanted to promote their uniqueness in a video. I was brought in by the production company to attend as the writer/producer and help them develop their thoughts.

After a very early start and a long drive I arrived at their offices in one of England’s loveliest northern cities, to find the group of company staff looking slightly haggard and worn after two hours’ debate over the bacon rolls and coffee. I was presented with a long list of reasons why their service was better than everyone else’s. Not wishing to wee-wee on their bonfire but also not wishing to spend the following two days there, I said, “OK, that’s great. But what is it we’re really doing here, with all these features that make the process easier?”

Blank looks all around.

“Isn’t it that we’re taking the stress out of buying and selling your home?”

More blank looks. Followed by smiles. And what had I done? Merely turned around that hairy old chestnut of features versus benefits. Now, because we were no longer looking at features, we could come up with ideas that were benefit-led and therefore far more likely to grab our audience.

Brainstorming is great – provided you set it up right. Remember, what we don’t need is solutions looking for problems.

What problems need to be solved?

Having warned you about the dangers of solutions looking for problems, whatever you do, don’t assume there aren’t any problems to solve. There are plenty. What you need to do, though, in your search for a good idea, is to ensure that you keep your eyes open for real problems in your particular market or topic area, and keep aware of what’s missing from whatever options there are currently to solve those problems.

Time, probably, is on your side. Solutions put forward to problems 10 or even 5 years ago, may no longer be appropriate and may indeed have been superseded by better solutions. Your solution might be even better still.

What are you really good at?

This may seem obvious, but have you really thought the uniqueness of your idea through? You know all there is to know about your topic, but in all fairness there may be other experts out there who are in the same position.

What is unique about you, though, is what will sell your idea. You may not even be aware that your ideas on your topic are unique, but hey – have a look back through your earlier musings, notes, essays, articles, papers, speeches, presentations, advertising, press releases, etc. I’d put money on the fact that you have a unique take on your topic. Find it, develop it, and make it happen.

Be nosey

If you have even the inkling of an idea, don’t be shy. Get out there and try it out. Ask around. You have a great deal to gain by sniffing out whatever sources you can to seek out to see whether your idea – or your germ of an idea – is worth taking further. Look for problems, in your area of expertise, that need solving – really need solving. Those can appear when you least expect it, so be vigilant. And keep asking around!

Watch your topic

This may seem glaringly obvious, but once you have an idea you need to watch very carefully to see what is being discussed about that particular topic. Or, should your idea be moving into uncharted waters, you need to keep abreast of everything that might be relevant.

So keep your eyes open!

Now, let’s get you writing that business blog – beautifully:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

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