Does content marketing work? Of course it does. In fact, it’s a cornerstone of stellar marketing and can be a powerful, thoughtful way to get consumers to discover your products and services.

But creating content marketing ideas can be tough.

If your idea gears have temporarily stopped turning, check out these five foolproof tactics to generate some inspiration. Once you’ve used them to find your next content marketing idea, deploy them over and over to never run out of ideas again.

1. Analyze Your Competition (Then Crush Them)

In the sport of business, you’re always trying to one-up your competition. The same is true in marketing. Scope out what content your competition is creating and offer something even better.

Try Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique. Essentially, you find content that’s ranking well in the search engines, create something that blows the existing stuff out of the water, and then promote the heck out of it.

Next, add a secret weapon to your arsenal: BuzzSumo. With this handy tool, you can search for a topic and see what content is doing well in that category. You can also type in your competitor’s websites and see what content is hot for them. Of course, you’ll want to check out what your competitors are doing on social media too. If any of their posts receive unusually high engagement, try to analyze why. Did they hit on the right topic? Are they coming out with a shiny, new product? Gather intel stealthily and prepare your counterpunch.

2. Follow the News

When it comes to producing content, people in the news business have a huge advantage: They get to cover ongoing events like elections, sports games and weather, so there’s a built-in way to come up with new content ideas. The same concept applies to assembling content marketing ideas. If you’re having trouble brainstorming topics, follow the news in your niche. To generate a consistent supply of ideas, follow top publications and keep up with influencers in your space on social media — they have their fingers on the pulse and can help you find topics driving the day. Introduce your own spin on the topic at hand. As an expert in your space, you’re in a unique position to shape general opinion on your niche — so go for it.

3. Answer your audience’s burning questions

Since you’re an expert in your niche, people look to you for advice. Do any questions seem to pop up often? When a customer asks you a question, it could be the seed of a great content marketing idea.

The #AskGaryVee Show is a terrific example. Vaynermedia founder Gary Vaynerchuk answers questions from entrepreneurs and simultaneously builds his authority in marketing and social media. Here’s a clip:

4. Get Trendy

When lots of people start talking about something, it becomes a trend. Think of yourself as a surfer and trends like big waves. What do surfers do when they see big waves? They ride them!

Take the recent Pokemon Go trend. Remember over the summer when you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about it? Of course, savvy businesses rode the wave. Many stores and restaurants invoked Pokemon Go as a reason to walk inside their venues. T-Mobile offered users unlimited data while they played the game, creating a whirlwind of earned media. And social media account managers around the world had many consecutive field days. When you stop trying to pluck ideas out of the ether and instead use hot topics as conceptual seeds, you’ll give your brainstorming a burst of creativity.

Just here for the Pokemon

A post shared by oscargrut (@oscargrut) on

How do you find trending topics? Here are a few ideas:

  • Facebook’s Trending Topics section will clue you in on the day’s buzz.
  • Google Trends will fill you in on what people are searching for.
  • BuzzFeed’s Trending section is at the forefront of pop culture.
  • Some of your most passionate audiences might be talking about really cool stuff in reddit’s Hot section.

5. Pull the Levers of Shareability

When it comes to shareability, look no further than BuzzFeed. What’s BuzzFeed’s secret? Ask Jack Shepherd, the site’s editorial director (and, reportedly, the God King of BuzzFeed). According to Forbes, Shepherd has condensed the magic of virality into these four rules:

  • Think about how your audience will respond emotionally. Will they have positive feelings? Negative emotions? Surprise? Each are shareable in their own ways.
  • Tailor content to specific identities. Are you targeting millennials? Parents? Avocado eaters? Getting specific can really help.
  • Use different formats to present your content. Think beyond articles and go for lists, infographics, videos or a quiz.
  • Fulfill the promises of your headlines. Nobody likes to be misled so ditch the clickbait and offer something worthwhile.

Looking for a brand with a great content plan? Look no further than Sperry — the shoe brand that partnered with Curalate to build a community of influencers and fans creating compelling visual content. Read all about it here.

Curalate powers commerce experiences that adapt to meet customers’ expectations, driving discovery and conversion at scale. Want to learn how Curalate can take your brand to the next level? Sign up for a demo.