James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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How to Brainstorm Your Way to Failure

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

What if you found out your content marketing strategy wasn’t making any impact on your business?

One day you woke up and realized that those conference room brainstorming sessions and published white papers are just fluff to your funnel.

Unfortunately, this happens to many companies. They make multi-month marketing plans from one brainstorming session and forget to leave room for agility or changes in the market.

So they launch a campaign, all hyped up on this creative idea, and spend months publishing and promoting before stepping back and searching for markers of success. After six months, they crunch the numbers and find that the campaign produced no fruit for their business.

It’s a sad case of events, but it’s commonplace. A Content Marketing Institute survey reported only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing. Only 30%.

The status quo is failure, and on our latest podcast, Allen Gannett from TrackMaven, shares five ways to leverage data and fight the failure rate. We’re going to break down those five tactics here.

1. “Go Between Channels.”

Think of “going between channels” as a good conversation.

If you’ve found a topic or set of questions that typically fosters good conversation, you can use those same topics and questions with someone you met at a party, coworkers at the office, or good friends at home. Same topic, different channel.

Going between channels with your content works the same way. Have content performing well on your blog? Take bite-size portions and create Tweets or podcast themes. Same topic, different channel.

The core of data-driven marketing is to fundamentally understand what your audience cares about. The core of data-driven marketing is to fundamentally understand what your audience cares about.


2. Look At This Time Last Year

There are few things that are more beneficial in life (and business) than to reflect on what you’ve learned.

Look at this time last year. What types of content were you creating? What was working? What wasn’t? What were people engaging with?

Use this data to make more informed decisions this go around.

3. Competitive Intelligence

Watching your competitors is some of the best intel gathering you can do.

Picture your top ten competitors, and let’s say they each tweet ten new pieces of content daily.

That’s one hundred data samples you can study each day, and see what worked and what tanked. For this example, if thirty of those ideas took off with their audience, those are thirty content ideas that can help develop your audience interest profile.

Observe patterns, popular topics, and channel trends. Use tools like Shared Count and Buzzsumo to efficiently explore this data.

Take what you’ve learned and craft your content with those lessons in mind.

4. Leverage Google Trends

Google Trends seems like it lives in the shadows of Keyword Planner, but they work best in combination.

Search Engine Watch’s post on Google Trends explains it as:

“Since Google Trends doesn’t give actual search numbers, it works best when used in combination with the Keyword Planner. Google Trends will show a “normalized” or relative level of interest over time for a prospective keyword phrase. It also allows you to compare the level of interest among potential target phrases.”

Leverage this tool, because free Google search data should not be something taken lightly.

5. Don’t Brainstorm Your Way to Failure

If you were put in a room with nothing but data, nine times out of ten, you’d make better and more informed decisions.

Brainstorming ideas with a team can be great, but it also doesn’t mean much if it’s not backed by data. Collaboration is important, but make data your gospel. Collaboration is important, but make data your gospel.


TrackMaven is a great tool to gather the data you need. This tool tracks your content and the content of your competitors across all major social channels and delivers three key data points back to you:

  • KPIs- reports on how your content is doing.
  • Context- they focus on how you stack up against your competitors.
  • Content Discover and Insight- You can see if other people have covered topics you’re interested in.


Make data your north star.

If you’ve got a team of creative minds knocking out quality content, continuing to point them to data, and you will have an unstoppable strategy on your hands.

This post is based on an interview with Allen Gannett from TrackMaven. You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes.