5 effective strategies content managers can use to boost their creativity

Stefan Huber

Stefan Huber is Chief Operating Officer. He is in charge of the Content, Service & Delivery Unit, assists customers with advisory services and content know-how, and gains new creative input while climbing indoors and outdoors.

Are you creative? Every content manager would probably answer this question with a resounding “yes” – only to wonder shortly afterwards, perhaps even a little guiltily, whether this is actually the case to the same extent for every single project.

Because let’s be honest: Very few people are able to quickly hit the jackpot with the umpteenth campaign on the same topic or product with the same perceived USPs.

But because our heart beats for good and unique content, we don’t want to settle for this circumstance – and have set out to find solutions. What did we come up with? A creativity toolkit with tried-and-tested techniques that we can fall back on when we notice that we’re “stuck” or don’t have any new, exciting approaches to a topic in mind.

We would like to present some of these methods – maybe they will help others to get out of one or the other creative hamster wheel!

1. fast and effective: the series of questions

Looking for a meta-topic to the “actual” topic? Or would it be helpful to be able to shed more light on the intentions of the target group, for example? Then the series of questions can be a good choice.

Here’s how it works: Starting from the briefing, you determine a core question. For example, “Why should I take better care of my gut health?” Then the question round goes off and you dumbbell your way to a “why” 5 times. So the answer to each question is the starting point for the next. Sounds complicated? Then just remember back to your own “why phase” or that of your own children – because the principle is basically the same 😉

2. Learning from the past

The good news first: very few situations in everyday content management are really completely new. This is where the “learning from the past” strategy comes into play.

Here’s how: It’s often purposeful to remember similar problems or initial situations, rather than focusing on the future. The point is not to copy “old” ideas, but to evaluate which approaches have tended to prove successful, which ones have not, which ones perhaps deserve a new chance, and which ones could be further developed in the new situation. Ideally, this will also reveal gaps that you hadn’t even considered in the past! Tip: Tapping into team power pays off! A short “Can you still remember campaigns with the topic XY?” asked in the round, usually brings about amazing thought-provoking impulses in a short time.

3. off to the opposite position: the Advocatus Diaboli

Some topics can be prepared well with very obvious content approaches – this is not bad or reprehensible, because sometimes tried and tested approaches are also purposeful. What they are often rather less: unique. After all, this type of content is probably already available on dozens of other channels. The solution is one that tends to make life rather difficult for yourself otherwise: being your own biggest critic.

Here’s how: With the “Advocatus Diaboli” method, you deliberately take the opposite position to the usual approach. So instead of asking, for example, “Why should I take better care of my intestinal health?”, you might consider what it would mean not to actively address this very health – or even to deliberately torpedo it. At this point, the thought “customers would never accept that” probably creeps into the minds of many content managers – and yes, this will probably be the case one or two times. But what it’s really about is getting to know new perspectives by looking at topics from a different angle or considering approaches that may have seemed inappropriate before. And who knows: maybe the customers are even happy about a breath of fresh air of this kind!

4. easy and strong output: The ABC method

Who would like to develop fast many new ideas or must, can try the ABC method. The only drawback: With many ideas, it naturally takes time to evaluate all new impulses and select THE ONE.

Here’s how: On a sheet of paper (for haptic types) or in a Word doc. all letters from A to Z are listed one below the other. And now? Mental work! Now you have to write down at least one idea or suggestion for each of the first letters. Experience has shown that this is more difficult with some letters than with others – so you simply leave them out. The result is a wealth of new ideas.

5. a classic: the mind map

As “Oldie but Goldie”, the mindmap must also find a place here – as a proven means of finding inspiration!

Here’s how it works: Mindmapping basically works similar to brainstorming, but with much more structure. First, a central concept is recorded in the middle of a sheet of paper (again, for haptic types) or a digital tool (e.g. Miro or Figma). Associations are now derived from this term and connected to the center with a stroke. Close to the initial term, related topics or keywords are usually found. But the further away one moves associatively, the more abstract the connections become – et voilà, the world of new impulses opens up to us.

Could we provide some food for thought? It is clear that not every method is suitable for every project or every situation. But when the opportunity presents itself, or creativity is not sparkling the way you want it to, it’s worth trying different strategies – even if it only ends up breaking old thought patterns. In the long run, this also leads to new approaches.

By the way: Being creative is also possible together – even remotely! We’ll explain how we handle this in our Content Unit in the next magazine article.