For most marketers, coming up with ideas is easy at first. We have them when we are at the gym, driving to work, or sitting at our favorite coffee house. Most of us are pretty creative, and we develop some compelling content.

Problems start to arise after we have been generating ideas for a little while and the well starts to run dry.

The same issue creeps up when we focus on one segment of the funnel, or path on a customer journey, and huge gaps surface in our content that cause us to alienate some members of our audience.

And, sometimes, we just don't know where to begin when working with a client in an obscure vertical we cannot relate to.

Over the past 13 years, I have been creating blog posts, articles, and content for many audience types. At Geekswithblogs, I wrote nearly 1,000 posts that were developed for an audience of software developers and new bloggers. I found that when the cupboards were empty and I needed to generate some ideas, three tools or tactics helped me focus and allowed the flow of valuable content to begin.

Warning: These tools require groups of two or more people. To really get the ideas flowing, I would aim at having a group of 4-20 available for 30 minutes or more. The participants should be subject-matter experts, fellow content writers, or (my favorite) audience members.

1. Brainstorming

Over the years, brainstorming has gotten a bad rap. It became a corporate buzzword as we all "synergized" and began thinking in groups. With the mass adoption of the tool, we threw some of the rules out the door, so we could use a refresher course.

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image of Jeff Julian

Jeff Julian is the chief marketing officer for enterprise content management provider AJi. He has helped companies develop content strategies for over 10 years. Jeff is working on a new book, Agility in Marketing, due out in 2015.

Twitter: @jjulian

LinkedIn: Jeff Julian