During our last quarterly lead generation workshop for businesses in the Minneapolis area, we discussed the importance of creating original content on a regular basis. While it isn’t difficult to inform marketers and business owners how content marketing can produce sales leads on a long-term basis, it is somewhat challenging to provide a single magic formula for the following questions we hear from attendees:
- How do I come up with blog topics to write about?
- What information will resonate with my buyers and customers?
- Which blog topics will rank well on search engines and get noticed on social media?
We've found, however, that a series of activities leading up to a single meeting can help kickstart your content marketing efforts. Once you have a foundation set, you can begin tracking, measuring and refining your content to produce more leads.
Follow these steps to generate blog topics for your business all year long:
Step 1: “They Ask, We Answer”
We recommend that businesses adopt a “they ask, we answer” mentality while developing content. Your buyers and customers have questions about solutions you provide (even if they are not aware of your products or services yet), and they are seeking answers to these questions online. How many of these questions are you addressing on your blog or website? Could you be answering more?
Step 2: Brainstorm a List of Common Questions
Prior to sitting down with your team for a meeting, identify who in your company or organization fields the most questions about your products or services. In most cases, your salespeople and customer service representatives have the highest level of interaction with buyers and customers.
Ask these individuals to prepare a list of common questions they answer on a regular basis. Have them shoot for 10 questions minimum – a Top 10 list, so to speak. But don’t limit them, encourage them to brainstorm as many as they can in a quick half-hour session.
Step 3: Have Your Marketing, Sales and Customer Service Teams Meet to Discuss the Questions
Rather than simply having your team hand in their respective Top 10 lists, set up a meeting to discuss the questions as a group. The meeting doesn’t require a lot of time, but give yourself at least 1-2 hours depending on the size of the group.
The agenda for this meeting is not to convince people about the value of content marketing or to come up with the best answers, keep the discussion focused on listing as many questions as possible.
Step 4: Record the Questions on a Spreadsheet
Once the meeting is over, collect the questions from your team and add them to the ongoing list generated from the discussion. It's helpful to group questions by similar topics, but avoid the urge to drop similar questions that are worded differently.
WHY? These are the gems: the true questions buyers and customers are asking in their own words, the phrases that will rank high on search engines and grab the attention of your ideal customers on social media and beyond.
Even with a small team, this single meeting should produce well over 104 potential blog topics (the minimum number to publish two posts a week for a year).
From this list of questions, you can:
- research keywords and phrases that will likely garner the most traffic,
- pinpoint subject matter experts in your company or organization needed to provide information for the posts, and
- identify where in the buyer’s journey the topics fall.
All that's left to do is write. Not bad for a single meeting, eh?