We all want to have great ideas and we all want long term success, right?  For those of us running lean teams or at small agency, a robust content ideation process if crucial. I can’t overstate it, I learned from experience. And now, competition for clients and share of mind is growing fiercer as large, skilled writing teams, armed with journalists, enter the marketplace.

Writing and content creation is no longer the bottleneck; effective idea generation is the bottleneck.

At both of the digital creative agencies I co-founded, we struggled with content ideation as our clients increased their demand for content marketing output. Of course we were thrilled, but our all-to-familiar decision was to urgently throw more money, time and resources at research and ideation in order to generate the original ideas, which gave value to our stories.

In founding Oz, I knew I wanted to help content marketers minimize the time consumed generating ideas, so their energy could be directed towards bringing the best ideas to life.

Oz provides a system for developing unique ideas: an algorithmically driven approach to mapping data that allows editors to easily extract insights.  The Oz platform is a content ideation tool that spurs creativity, increasing a marketer’s ability to deliver a high-volume of quality stories, making it easier to see the unique angles that are at the core of the sharpest articles.

Why is quality idea generation is more important than ever?

Growing industry expertise requirements

The number of companies embracing B2B content marketing exploded over the last 24 months, with over 86 percent of B2B businesses using strategic content marketing according to new research from the Content Marketing Institute. For many content marketers, the corporate blog is no longer the edge-case; it’s the main case.

Content marketing is no longer a buzzword, it’s the category of digital ad spend that delivers the highest ROI for many marketers, outperforming search and social.

content marketing ideation

Rick Harris, The Newsroom

For an agency, this means knowing multiple industries well enough to deliver content on an expert’s level although you may have a five-person team responsible for twelve clients from different fields.

The stories marketers deliver for brands are evaluated against the articles, videos, and podcasts of experienced publishers, not against the work of other content marketers. Editorial counterparts, covering a beat in a newsroom, may have a decade of experience and a Rolodex full of sources (literally). The reservoir of content from which they source ideas is much deeper than that of a new brand marketer or agency hire.

Oz’s exploratory data analysis tools analyze texts, scraping the web for news sources and influencer feeds, finding patterns and similarities that can typically only be identified by the seen by the expert eye. Our interface makes it easier for a broader set of people to see those patterns and derive unique ideas, allowing them to compete with the experts.

Whether you need wide expertise across multiple industries at an agency, or whether you’re competing on deep expertise at a brand, robust content ideation software can augment your skill-set.

The “double down” on content marketing

If you’re responsible for writing one piece per week, as you may have been when launching your content marketing efforts, it’s probably pretty easy to come up with a killer idea, in the shower, or while knocking back a cold one at the bar. But in marketing the mantra is, “if it’s working, then double down,” and in 2015 we’re seeing 59 percent of B2B companies publishing content weekly, daily, or multiple times a week.

Serendipity doesn’t scale, but systems do.

content ideation

Lynn Friedman, The Idea String

As your business grow and your output increases, a robust process of research, angle identification and assignment is mission critical.

The increasing distance to a unique angle

 A content marketer at a major enterprise recently outlined his company’s problem this way:

Our audience is C-Suite execs, and we try to target them through content. The problem is that they’re incredibly busy and tend to only read one article on each topic. So for example, we recently wrote an article on Big Data. The problem is that I have 20 competitors all writing essentially the same article as us on Big Data, and only one of us is going to get read. It’s difficult to stand out.

70 percent of marketers are creating more content than they did last year, and the rise in the quantity of content has led to the rehashing of ideas. It’s harder to say something notable when so many people are talking.

A robust content ideation process will help to define quality, differentiated ideas that will stand out in a crowded marketplace. There are patterns which make certain stories more compelling than others (see here) and can help humans make connections faster, driving down the amount of time to get to that unique idea.

Thinking like a pro

“Inspiration is for amateurs,” said the artist Chuck Close, “the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

When you’re responsible for regularly producing high-quality content, waiting for around inspiration—those elusive good ideas– just won’t cut it. You need a solid idea generation pipeline, populated by relevant data, and augmented by smart software.

Put this to work for you, and leave amateur hour to, well… amateurs.

At Oz, our goal is to help our customers unlock the best story ideas using data. Interested? We’d love to talk.


-Matt Lovett, CEO