One of the biggest challenges that hold people back from making progress with content marketing is generating ideas.
If you are struggling for ideas for your content it is most likely because you are not close enough to your customers and don’t understand them as well as you should.
In this episode, Chris shares ways you can get closer to your customers – better than anyone else – to generate multiple ideas for content to drive sales to your business and help your customers make an educated buying decision.
- Why would someone NOT buy from you?
- How to be found online – Part 1
- How to be found online – Part 2
- Why do content marketers use keyword tools?
- How to do keyword research without using expensive keyword tools
- How to create and choose the best content ideas to grow your business
- Email Chris: email@example.com
One of the things that hold people back from making progress with content marketing and really does stop them in their tracks is they have a lack of ideas for content marketing for their blog. Now, this is very typical, especially in the early days when we’re trying to get ideas for our blogs and our strategy and how we’re going to approach content marketing.
Ultimately when someone says to me, “I don’t have any ideas for content marketing” or “I’ve run out of ideas for content marketing.” What they’re really saying to me is that “I don’t understand my customers just as well as I should. I’m not close enough to my customers. I’m not obsessed with my customers because we’re not listening to them enough.” That’s just the truth of it. Let’s get that out of the way just now.
If you don’t have any ideas for your content, you’re not close enough to your customers. You don’t understand them as well as you should.
This whole podcast episode, this whole piece of advice that I’ve got here for you today is ultimately about you getting closer and closer to your customers. Ultimately we want to get closer to our customers than anyone else. We want to emotionally connect with our customers better than anyone else. We want to understand our customers better than anyone else as well. The more work we can do around this, the better our ideas will be for content marketing
The other thing I want to mention here before we continue onwards is that, as you know, if you listened to the podcast before or you’re a member of CMA, you will know that a big part of our focus is making sure that the content that we do create is really focused on sales. In other words, content that is attracting prospective customers to our website and is generating sales. That’s what we’re focusing on. This isn’t any type of content. Specifically, content that drives sales. This is really, really important.
You want to … I want to help you to … You listen to this, get your notepad out, and I want to help you generate more ideas. I think if you take each one of these major points I’m going to make, that you could easily, easily come up with 100 blog ideas. No problem at all. I think you could do way more than that if you really put your mind to it and you’re really focused on it.
Let’s go through some of these ideas. Remember, the focus is about listening to our customers better than anyone else and getting closer to our customers better than anyone else.
The first place that you’re going to start, is you’re going to start at the front line. Let’s look at our inbox, our sent box, and our e-mails. Look at what people are asking us in our inbox. Look at what our replies are like in our sent box. Those are really great places to start with the questions that people are asking and how you’ve answered them. These can be turned into blog articles.
Speak to … If you have got a sales team or customer service team or a team that is front-facing with the customer, then we want to be asking them what questions are getting on a regular basis. What is your most frequently asked questions? We can turn them into blog articles, too. We can start to use those ideas for content. This is low-hanging fruit, really easy. The sales teams’ sent box, inbox, inquiries, phone calls, all of that stuff. We want to really engage our customers.
Another thing we can do which we often do, is we send out surveys to our customers. Now, I want to be getting really specific with the survey here. It’s really important that we do it in a specific way. That is, that when we’re asking for … If we’re really fishing for content ideas, what the best approach that I’ve found certainly is to send a survey with just one, or perhaps two, questions. The ones that have worked the best for me are single questions.
Not even in a survey, but actually just in an e-mail to my list is to say, “What’s your biggest challenge with … What’s your single biggest challenge with blogs or websites or growing your business” or whatever it is. Whatever the question is, just make it super specific and only around getting an answer for the thing that you’re looking for an answer for. The more specific you can be, the more likely you are to get a reply. That can be a really quick and easy way to get ideas.
I’ve done that before even with blog content as, “What’s your biggest challenge with growing your business or getting new customers through your blog or through your content marketing?” Getting people to give me ideas and it works really, really well. In fact, I did this not that long ago and ended up getting about 50 ideas for the podcast off the back of it. I kept on just going back to that one e-mail that I send and just pulling ideas out of it.
I did it recently as well when I’ve been doing … You’ve heard on the podcast talk about the marketing strategy we’ve done for our marketing leadership content for LinkedIn. That all came through e-mail … A lot of that came through e-mail conversations and the work that we were doing for our clients as well.
Again, listen to your customers. What are they saying? What are they talking about? What are their problems? What are their frustrations? Actively listening. This is probably the biggest one out of the whole lot is just getting in tune with what your customers are saying. What they’re talking about. How they feel about the thing. How frustrated they are about the thing. What is the core problem? Understanding that better than anyone else and then creating content that helps them with that thing, that’s where we want to get to.
Once we’ve done all of this, we’re going to get this sort of front-end stuff. Then we can dig a little bit deeper into some other things. Let’s say I look at a couple of examples.
Let’s say you’ve got a bunch of questions already listed out from the few that we’ve already discussed. You could go to Google now, and you could start typing those questions into Google and looking at the predictive search seeing what other people also searched.
There’s also a great free resource. That is, once you’ve made your search on Google, is to scroll to the bottom of page 1 on Google and look at the related searches at the bottom. What they are is they’re just rephrased or slightly different ways in which someone’s asked a similar question. That could also spark some other ideas for you as well. Then the whole idea here is to take your question and the challenge is could you get more specific with that question.
Oftentimes when we’re working with people and we’re coaching them through this process, what happens is they get what they think is a specific question that our customers ask. Then it actually breaks down into 6 or 10 or 15 other questions. We have to be on this journey to get more and more specific all the time. Google is a great source. Go to Google, have a look at what comes up in the search engine results page. Look at the predictive search. Look at the related searches at the bottom of Google as well. Just start to pull out all the different ideas.
The other thing that helps with this as well is to get … is to be intuitive and think about, “What is the natural line of questioning that your prospects may have?” Let’s say around when you’ve got a question that your prospects ask typically, and then think to yourself, “Well, what would they ask next?” If they were to read this article and then go back to Google, what would be the next thing they would type in? Could we create that article, too and the next one and the next one and the next one? Ultimately, keep them on our website.
A little bit of intuition is required as well to think about, “Well, what is the natural line of questioning? What other questions would they have around this topic?” That’s another really great idea here is that … We find this oftentimes as well is that we come up with ideas for blog articles which are actually not blog articles, they’re topics. What we need to do is we need to break that topic down by persona, by industry, by product, by service.
Then there are blog articles that come off the back of all of those as well. You can take one topic and then really sort of pull apart and come up with tens, hundreds of blog article ideas that cross the industry, cross your personas, across your products and services. Next thing you know you’ve got … Next thing you know, your problem isn’t coming up with ideas, it’s choosing the best ones which you’ve also done a podcast on. That’s where we’re getting to. You should already be thinking to yourself, “There’s no way I’m ever going to run out of ideas here.”
Another great resource is answerthepublic.com. Go there, type in a topic or a question and Answer The Public is going to spew it at you, loads and loads of ideas. It’s good, I wouldn’t say that … You want to be selective about what you choose from Answer The Public. You want to get … You still need to have intuition there to choose the right things, but answerthepublic.com is a great resource to sort of spark some inspiration and maybe move you … just move you forward, especially if you’re feeling stuck.
Obviously, we want to embrace your team as well. Not just your sales team, management team, marketing team, business development team, leadership. Everybody really in the organization is … probably has something to add to the mix here in terms of content that they can help you with. Engineers, whoever. Think about who in the team can help you generate more ideas. Think about industry experts, for example. How can they help you with content as well? Leverage your team, leverage the people that are in the organization. Where are your customers hanging out?
Groups, forums, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, perhaps. Perhaps there’s questions and answers on some forums like Quora or Reddit, for example. You can go over there and see what people are talking about. Get involved in the conversations. See what the most common threads are. Have we done any content around these ideas? If these are … If this is what people are asking, then we should try and own this conversation.
It’s ultimately what we’re trying to do here is to get ownership around these topics and these ideas in this conversation so we can help our prospective customers to use our content to make an educated and confident buying decision. That’s really what we’re aiming towards here is to become the Wikipedia of our industry. The way we’re going to do that is to provide the highest quality best content that exists online today that helps our prospective customers answer all their questions, address all the problems that they have, and ultimately lead them towards an educated buying decision.
We can also look at the specific industry topics on Amazon. On Amazon Books, for example, you could go there, have a look at what books are from your industry, and look at the chapter pages. It’s a really good place to go and get some other ideas about what the most common topics are, what the most common questions are and challenges are.
Remember, you may be thinking to yourself at this stage, “But if they’re common, it means they’re well-covered.” You may … Well, that may well be true. What we want to do is to take those well … those most common ideas and then either get more specific or ask yourself, “Could we do this better in a different way, in a more unique way? Could we do it in a way that’s actually more helpful for our prospective customers?” Find an angle, find a way to improve it.
You might find ideas and you think to yourself, “Actually this has been very well done already, we’re not going to do that idea.” That’s okay, too. You really want to focus on where you can make the biggest difference for your prospective customers and build that trust.
You go back to one of the other podcasts or put other links to the podcasts and resources I’ve mentioned here into the show notes. If you go back to a recent podcast that we did which was, Why would someone not buy from me or why would someone not buy from you? That podcast was all about answering that question. That’s another question to ask yourself often if you’re stuck for ideas is, “Why aren’t people buying this product? What could be … What could potentially be holding people back from buying this service?” Then ask yourself that question. It usually generates a bunch of ideas, half a dozen ideas that you be … that could be addressed here or through your blog content or your website.
Obviously, you want to be thinking about They Ask You Answer, the Big 5, Marcus Sheridan’s philosophy and methodology and, again, we’ve got a couple of podcasts to go back to if you want to find out more about that. Generally speaking, it’s clusters of ideas around the price, cost, problems, reviews, best of and comparison. Again, you could … you only need to come up with maybe five or 10 ideas in each of those categories and you’ve already got 25 to 50 ideas for blogs, so there are loads you can do in the They Ask You Answer and the Big 5 space, too. In fact, if you just focused on that, you could come up with hundreds of ideas on their own. You could look at that.
What else could you do? Let’s have a think. I think the key thing here is that you want to take all your big ideas and get specific. The more specific you can get, generally speaking, the better performing your articles will be and the easier they’ll be found as well, so we want to get super specific.
Then, I guess, if you really wanted to take this farther, again, you can check out our other podcasts on How to Use Keyword Tools and Why Content Marketers Use Keyword Tools. You could take all of this stuff that you’ve just … all these ideas that you’ve just pulled together from the ideas I’ve given you, and you could go and use a keyword tool and start to really dig deep and be a little bit more data-driven in terms of what the ideas are going to be the best ideas. Ultimately what will happen is there’s … As soon as you go into that research mode using a keyword tool, you’re going to come up with more and more ideas for your content.
Hopefully what will happen is you’ll start to recognize what the most important or best ideas are going to be in terms of driving the right traffic to your website. What happens here is that … that’s loads of areas for you to explore, so you may want to go back through this podcast and start jotting all these down and start to go through this process and come up with all these ideas. You want to get those ideas. You shouldn’t be running out of ideas.
It’s really is a signal if you’re running out of ideas is you’re not trying hard enough. It really does sort of tell me that you are not in tune with your customers. You’re not listening to your customers as actively as you should be. Any marketer should be able to generate hundreds for blog articles. Obviously, your next challenge becomes choosing the best ideas. The ones that are going to have the biggest impact or predicted the biggest impact in terms of helping to improve the sales process for our organization. To help our customer to go from never hearing from us before to trusting us, to want to contact us, to want to buy from us as quickly and as easily as possible.
That’s what content marketing is all about. Don’t forget that. That’s what true content marketing is all about is improving our sales process and making it quicker and easier for our prospective customers to buy from us. In other words, quicker and easier for our prospective customers to build trust with us. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. Go ahead and just generate a bunch of blog ideas. If you’ve got any questions or thoughts or ideas and anything you want to add to this, this list is definitely not complete.
I’m sure there are loads of other places to get great ideas for your blog content, but focus on what your prospective customers need. What do they need to help them to make an educated and confident buying decision? Focus on that content, and you will improve your sales process. It will add zeros to your bottom line. You will make more sales. You’ll make more revenue. You will make more profits if you focus on that area. Ultimately everything that is … Everything that we focus on, everything that is measured improves, there’s no doubt about that.
Go ahead, get those ideas out there and if you want any help or any advice, then send me an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org and you could also tweet me, @chrismarr101.
Hope you’ve had a good day and I’ll speak to you soon.
Don’t forget to be awesome.