If you’ve ever been told to think outside the box, you know how underwhelming of a cliche that is, and how overwhelming it can actually be to expand an idea and truly be creative.
A couple years ago, the new cliche was “think inside the box.” The idea was that too many people were trying to think creatively, and ended up missing the foundation (inside the box). It also created a negative connotation around buzzwords like “innovation” or “brainstorming.” The visual was a group of people sitting in a room tirelessly trying do the impossible.
But was it impossible? I think the issue was a lack of focus on what was already known, and the logical progression to what can be done next. The visual I like to think about is a staircase. The only way to get to the next floor, is to start at the ground level and work your way up.
Thinking Inside the Box
What is the foundation or core of what I’m writing about? As a business, what are my core services? What was the initial vision and the ongoing mission? Businesses get very bogged down by the idea of blogging, that they forget why they started this company in the first place. What was the passion behind it? Is it family owned?
I always start with FAQs if they’re not already on the website. Start with what you know, and what people always ask you.
Thinking Outside the Box…or Up the Stairs
What’s the next logical progression from FAQs? There may not be a glaring answer but I love to refer to Red Bull as my favorite content generating machine. If you’ve been living under a rock, Red Bull sells energy drinks. That’s their whole product line (so far). Their content, however, revolves around ANYTHING high energy – i.e. extreme sports, interviews with athletes like Harrison Barnes, music/concerts, cars, etc.
After a few minutes looking at the Red Bull site, or watching Red Bull TV, you forget that they sell a product and become an engaged fan of their viewpoint into the world. It’s like following your favorite blogger.
I’ve worked with companies that have seemingly mundane industries. For example, a window cleaner can only talk about windows for so long without getting bored of their own job. But when thinking up the stairs, my progression of thought immediately jumps to the seasonality of this business.
In general, people don’t clean their windows in the winter because of precipitation, or maybe just a lack of wanting to look outside, and therefore, window cleaners suffer in the winter. However, as a window cleaner, it behooves you to tell people why winter is important. Are your windows really getting cleaned by rain water? Nope. Is the sunlight getting through the grime that has built up? Nope. These are good things for the consumer to know, and they’re interesting, “out of the box” blog posts.
Can’t think of a way to expand your content strategy for your business? Contact me to “brainstorm.”