Something To Talk About: How to Come Up With Content Ideas
It’s one of the hardest parts for any content marketing team. At one time or another, the question will be asked “What the hell do we talk about this week?”.
Uncovering what your potential customers want and need is the foundation of a solid content marketing framework. The goal is to find topics that help prospects perform their jobs better and present that content in a compelling and creative manner.
While a lot of companies have a sense about what their customers want to hear, they don’t always have a set process or method to follow. Continually coming up with ideas can be exhausting, but there are ways to tap into your customers that can keep the content machine humming.
Invite the front line to your world
A lot of times, the marketing team lives in their bubble and work independently of other teams. But working in silos can leave content ideas on the table.
Front line employees often have a wealth of information about current and prospective customers, even if they don’t know it.
Salespeople can provide insight into what potential customers care about. Questions like “What are customers having problems with?” or “What features are the most impressive to them?” can shed light on what pain points prospects have. In my experience, there is an ebb and flow to problems, so tapping sales members to find the current hot button issue can help stay on top of prospect’s interests.
For current customers, your support people are treasure troves of ideas. For one, they can help uncover issues related to your product which is good for support-related content like webinars or knowledgebase articles. And two, support often helps customers do something. This something is what they need to do with your product and it’s a safe bet prospective customers want to do the same.
Expose your secrets
You know an incredible amount of information as it pertains to your product and industry. As marketer’s our inherent desire is to “keep secrets” from our prospective customers. That is to say, we don’t want to tell them about the processes that make our products valuable to them.
For example, your software helps freelancers manage the multiple clients, projects and files. Your software keeps things organized and allows for collaboration with clients.
While your solution is more efficient, there are ways a freelancer can manage without your software. These are the things to expose. Helping non-customers with their day-to-day will help establish you in their mind as a thought leader, that just so happens to sell software to freelancers…
It’s very likely that you have Google Analytics or another web analytics software installed on your site. Taking a deeper look into specific content areas on your site will likely show a few patterns.
Using our fictional freelance software company again; let’s say we have a blog and resource hub on our site. The first step is to segment traffic to these areas. Using these segments, you’ll be able to glean a few things.
- What content is the most popular by channel – What paid content do people gravitate towards; what non-paid content?
- How do users in these segments interact with the rest of the site – Are content downloaders and readers more likely to signup for your product? Are they more likely to revisit?
With this data you can focus on what prospects naturally gravitate towards and expand upon that topic.
When all else fails, curate.
Leveraging what others are writing about can be a great source of ideas. My recommendation is to keep an ear to major industry publications or influencers and use some or all of what they’re talking about. No, no, don’t plagiarize, use them as inspiration and craft the article to appeal to your direct audience.
Coming up with content ideas doesn’t have to be a head-palming or painful exercise. By listening to prospective and current customers, taking the lid off your secrets, understanding content metrics and curating topics, you’ll be able to spin out fresh content your audience craves.