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Coming up with not just ideas but the right ideas is absolutely critical to creating content that your prospects are going to love.
In the manufacturing industry, organizations are full of subject matter experts (i.e. Engineers) that have a wealth of knowledge that we as marketers can tap into.
Just “how” to tap into that knowledge is something we see manufacturers struggle with every day.
As you’re building or growing a content marketing strategy within your organization, spend some time and focus on ideation…on making it better. The better the ideas, the better the content, and the easier it will be to attract and then convert prospects into customers.
The KJ Method is a strategy for problem-solving developed by Jiro Kawakita in the 1960’s. Through this process, we can identify topics/ideas that are going to help our customers solve their problems or identify opportunities…which is the reason that they are searching and consuming information on the web to begin with.
The KJ Method is unique in that it equals the playing field between individuals involved in the ideation session. Many times, we’ve witnessed marketing departments hold ideation meetings with groups like engineering. And in these meetings, we’ve witnessed the proverbial squeaky wheel getting the grease. The loud get heard and the quiet don’t contribute. Your ability to voice your opinion is in no way a reflection of your ability to think critically about a problem.
So, to solve this issue, much of the KJ Method happens in silence. Out of this experience, which we’ll detail below, you’ll arrive at a place where you’ll have a ton of amazing ideas for content creation.
At Crafted, we use the KJ Method in conjunction with a hub and spoke model for content creation. We utilize the KJ Method to help manufacturers decide on relevant topics that become the spokes around our main hub of content.
Finally, before we dive into the KJ Method let’s make one important note. The ideas you come up with and the subsequent content you create are going to be targeted to the ‘awareness’ and ‘consideration’ piece of the buyer’s journey. Keep this in the back of your mind as you ideate. It’s critical to know what part of the buyer’s journey a piece of content is written to.
There are 6 steps within the KJ Method, and each one is as critical as the one that comes before it. They work in conjunction to help you ideate and then execute on content that is not only relevant but extremely valuable to your prospects and customers.
Always enter your ideation meeting with a predefined problem or opportunity. This is your guiding light. It’s the center of your ideation session.
Example: I’m spending a lot of money machine maintenance.
The above problem could be a specific problem that someone within your industry is facing. They’re realizing that year after year the cost of fixing and maintaining their machine is getting higher and higher.
Your job is to provide them with more information that allows them to identify potential issues and then solutions for fixing this problem.
After you’ve decided on the problem you want to solve for your customer, it’s time to start ideating.
This entire step happens in silence.
Put a stack of note cards or sticky notes in the center of your table and ask everyone to start writing topic ideas (one per notecard) that can help solve or that somehow relate to the pre-determined problem.
It’s important to reiterate that there is no wrong answer. The goal is to put as many ideas down as possible.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and let the team go to work!
In the 10 minutes, your team will have come up with a variety of ideas related to the proposed problem. Now your job is to facilitate grouping these ideas.
In round-robin fashion, let each person read one of their notecards and then put it on the board. If anyone has a similar card, have them put it on the board as well when they hear that similar topic being read.
As this process happens, you’ll start to see unique groups of ideas start to form.
Through the process, your job as the facilitator is to group similar ideas on the board.
You have a wealth of ideas on the board. You’ve even grouped them. Now give those groupings names. Don’t spend too much time here. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Here’s the fun part. This is where the cream rises to the top.
Set aside 5 minutes for everyone to get up and to cast their votes for their favorite topics. Everyone in your group gets 3 votes. After the five minutes, you’ll see that some topics received more votes than others.
These are your winners!
You now have several topics that everyone has bought into…meaning they are more likely to execute on writing these topics.
Deciding who is going to write individual topics is important. This can happen behind closed doors or can happen within the meeting itself.
Allowing people to choose their topic in front of the group increases buy-in, accountability, and comradery so we recommend this route. But, how you run this part of the KJ Method depends entirely on your organization.
If you run your ideation meeting the right way you’re going to leave with a wealth of information and ideas that can ruthlessly propel your content marketing forward. Be sure to document all your ideas (good and bad) and any other important information that came out of your meeting. These notes can be a great starting point for your next ideation meeting.
We’ve found that utilizing the KJ Method to is facilitate content ideation and subsequently creation within your group of subject matter experts works extremely well!
Give the KJ Method a try. Adapt it to fit your organization. However, above else (no matter how you do it) be sure that you put a concerted effort into ideating topics for your content marketing strategy! Its success depends on it.
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