Content marketing cannot exist without content, and content cannot exist without ideas.
But where do you get your ideas from?
Standard brainstorming sessions can be effective, but can also get sidetracked or dominated by those who shout the loudest. After debating each suggestion, you might find you come away with just a handful of workable ideas.
But what if there was a technique to help you come up with 108 ideas in just half an hour?
6-3-5 brainwriting is an ideation technique developed in 1968 by Bernd Rohrbach, a German marketer, to create a large number of ideas in a short space of time.
What you need
- A group of six people (this is the ideal number, but if you have fewer it will still work – more on this later)
- A quiet room
- 30 minutes
- A brief or problem to solve
- A prepared worksheet or blank piece of paper for each participant
How it works
First of all, you need to ensure that everyone in your group understands the problem or brief, and that they’re aware of your target audience. If not, take a bit of time at the beginning to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of your goals, otherwise you might find yourself with ideas that aren’t suitable.
Next, get everyone sitting in a circle with paper or worksheets. Each piece of paper should have the problem at the top of the page and a 3 x 6 grid, labelled with ‘Idea 1’, ‘Idea 2’ and ‘Idea 3’ along the top, as well as the numbers 1 to 6 down the side.
Then, it’s time for ideas. Everyone in the group is given five minutes to each write down three ideas onto their grid (in row 1). This needs to be done in silence with no discussion.
Once the five minutes are up, participants need to pass their sheets to the person on their right. Then begins another five minutes, during which each participant lists their three ideas in row 2, taking inspiration from the previous ideas on the sheet.
This continues for six rounds until each person gets their first sheet back. By this point, you should have 108 ideas.
While 108 ideas sounds great, it’s highly unlikely that each of these ideas will be useful or relevant, and you don’t want to progress with those that won’t work for your business or solve your problem.
You could use the NUF criteria to grade your ideas, and rate each out of 30. NUF stands for New, Useful and Feasible, so you simply go through each idea and rate it out of ten on each of these factors. Depending on the number of ideas, you might decide to go forward with the top ten suggestions, or perhaps all those with a rating of more than 20 out of 30.
Using NUF allows you to focus on the strongest ideas and not waste time on those that might not work. However, the beauty of 6-3-5 brainwriting is that all ideas are documented, so what might not work now could work later.
Pros and cons
- You don’t need to have six people. Six is the standard, but it’s not prescriptive as long as the number of rounds is equal to the number of participants – eg. three participants would need only three rounds
- You don’t have to use marketers – in fact, it can be more useful to invite members of different teams into your session to encourage new ideas
- It’s efficient – 108 ideas in half an hour is many more than you’re likely to create in a standard brainstorming session
- It’s non-verbal, which avoids the problem of the loudest drowning out the quietest
- All ideas are documented for later
- It’s an ideal method if you’re pushed for time
- It’s unlikely all 108 ideas will be useful and there’s a good chance there will be some duplicates
- There’s no time for ideas to be developed in the session due to the lack of discussion, meaning another meeting may be needed at a later date
- Everyone in the group needs to be involved, so it takes some getting used to
If you’re struggling with the ideation phase of your content marketing, this method is certainly worth trying.
You can also bring in outside help to generate fresh and exciting ideas.
Contact Axonn to discuss how we can help you reinvigorate your marketing.