Content Marketing – Are you ready?
The creative juices are flowing through your veins — there’s never been a better time to start writing. So you sit down at your computer, open up Microsoft Word, place your fingertips on your keyboard, and then… you realize.
“I have no idea what to write about.”
We’ve all been there at one point or another.
And the truth is, coming up with great ideas to fuel your content marketing strategy is one of the hardest parts of the entire process. But it doesn’t always have to be that way.
Over the past 6 years, Joe Pulizzi, CEO of Content Marketing Institute, has consistently published thousands of articles on content marketing and entrepreneurship to his personal blog and to CMI — he’s an idea-generating machine. And in his book, Content Inc., he shares six methods he uses to produce amazing ideas for articles on a weekly basis.
So what are they?
1. Perform a “content audit”.
Before you figure out what content you need to create, you need to know what content you’re missing. That’s where the “content audit” works wonders.
A content audit is the action of gathering every piece of content your business has created, analyzing what content you’ve produced and where, then determining what content you need to produce reach your organization’s goals. Once it’s all organized, you can use that data to…
- Make updates to outdated content
- Find endless opportunities for repurposing content
- Optimize content for SEO
- Create fresh content that fits directly into your strategy
Not only that, but performing a content audit can save you massive amounts of time when creating lead magnets and content assets.
“I’ve worked with dozens of companies that launched new e-books and white papers and hired freelancers and editors,” Joe says, “…only to find out midway through the process that much of the content initiative [was already created]. Conducting even a simple content audit would have saved those companies time and money.”
I highly recommend opening this Moz post in a new window to help you with auditing your content later on. You’ll thank me later.
2. Get into your buyer’s head.
One of the best ways to generate content ideas is to get in the mind of your audience. Take Marcus Sheridan for example:
Marcus was the co-owner of a pool installation company in Warsaw, Virginia named “River Pools and Spas”. And in 2009 when the economy plummeted, Marcus was struggling to earn new fiberglass pool customers.
So, in a desperate attempt to save his business, he started writing blog posts. And long story short, it worked wonders. His business survived the recession, and Marcus now credits millions of dollars in sales to his content. How did he have so much success, you ask?
He sat down and brainstormed every question his buyers could’ve had about fiberglass pools. Then, he made blog posts addressing each one.
And after he released the posts, his buyers found them when they were researching pools on Google. Marcus’ vast knowledge of fiberglass pools and willingness to share detailed information inspired confidence in his potential buyers to become customers.
Simple, but extremely effective.
3. Google Alerts
Content marketing is lonely.
And when we’re immersed in our own content strategies for long periods of time, we forget that there are other people out there writing about the same things we are. That’s where Alerts comes in.
For those unaware, Alerts is a web program created by Google that allows you to receive text and email updates when new content gets published in your industry.
Google Alerts keeps you up to date with new developments and content in your industry no matter where you are. And once you see what other people in your industry are creating, it can help to jog your own creativity when producing content ideas.
Nobody ever thought to write about content marketing until Content Marketing Institute started producing blog posts. So always take advantage of other inspirations!
4. Ask your audience
Sometimes, the best ideas for your content come from the people who consume it.
Many businesses make the mistake of assuming what their audience wants to know. They’ll produce thousands of blog posts about baking chocolate cakes, not knowing that their audience really wants to know is how they can make the perfect pancake.
So take time to talk with your audience members!
Grab some coffee or schedule a Skype call with them and ask them about their lives. What do they struggle with in their careers? What do they have a hard time understanding about your industry? What questions do they have about your product or service?
You can also use social media to save a ton of time with this process.
When Joe Pulizzi was gathering ideas for his new book, he decided to ask his Facebook followers what they thought he should write about. And after a few years and a couple thousand comments, Content Inc. was born.
I guess you can thank Joe’s followers for this article as well!
5. Ask your coworkers/employees
Most marketers never even think of asking the people they work with for content ideas.
“They aren’t directly involved with our content strategy, so they wouldn’t have any good ideas, right?”
Not so much.
Your employees and coworkers are part of a completely different environment than you are. And as a result, they’re going to have out-of-the-box content ideas that you would’ve never thought of yourself.
For instance, John from Sales probably has hundreds of examples of questions his leads ask him about your product, service, or industry. And with one simple interview, you can take all those questions John gave you and create blog posts or FAQ pages to answer every single one.
Not only are you giving John a resource for his sales calls, but you’re also providing helpful information for other potential buyers.
If you’re struggling to generate content ideas, methods like these can help to keep you on pace. But here’s the thing:
Content marketing is a constant battle. And when most businesses attempt to succeed, they find that they don’t have the time or willpower to see powerful results. That’s where we can come in.
At Solutionarian Marketing, we take the weight of content marketing off your shoulders. No longer will you have to worry about creating great content, developing relationships, researching keywords, or laboring over analytics -we take care of everything.