You know the rules. Your content should be useful, relevant, engaging, pertinent, visual, original and though provoking. And regularly posted. And always at the same high standard. The theory about what is great content is not hard to learn, but putting it in practice and more importantly, keeping a constant flow of good stuff can be difficult, especially when you don’t have a dedicated content manager or cannot outsource this activity.
I will not focus here on what is great content. If you want to read about that, check this article on Neil Patel’s blog that inspired this article post and then come back. I was reading that and I found myself thinking: nice info about what to do, but how to do it in real life is a different challenge in itself. After a while, you run out of good ideas and you’re tempted to fill the publishing spot with less valuable content, which is not the way to keep you customers happy and interested.
So, when your inspiration dries out, here are some ideas for sources of good content you can turn to.
1. Listen to your clients
Your first and ultimate source of content ideas should be, you guessed it: your client. Ask them directly about what they want to read on your blog and make a list of ideas you can consult when creating a new post. Find out what are they struggling with, what their question or find unclear, what do they find difficult (even if it’s about using your product) and write about that. Read all the feedback your company received from customers and extract from there. Listen to all complaints (and praise!) and turn them into posts where you address their concerns, offer solutions and thank them for their feedback.
Tip – Make a habit from searching your clients’ interests for content ideas. Include in your agenda recurring social media listening times, direct discussions with clients, participation in sale meetings, going to events where clients are present, etc. A little research every day goes a long way in compiling a list of ideas that will never leave you dry of inspiration.
2. Feature your clients’ work
The best way to make your product features known is by telling the world about how your clients use them. Write about their projects, share their success, how they solved a particular problem, collaborate with their marketing departments, share their content, and provoke them to share an opinion about hot topics in the industry. Bonus? You can stretch this source of content in multiple posts by asking questions about different subjects. For example, if you interview 5 clients about a successful project they had, you can make 5 posts about each of them. If you include in the interviews a question regarding an opinion, by aggregating only the opinion answers you received, you have enough material for an editorial extra post, all for the same research time.
Tip – If the client is not comfortable with writing, do it for them. Most of people will be happy to share their ideas and reply to your questions if you don’t request writing work from them. Send the questions in advance, then schedule a 30 min online meeting where you can ask permission to record the dialogue. Then write the article yourself and don’t forget to send it for client’s approval before going online with it. If possible, go for minimal editing to save time and preserve authenticity.
Be sure to treat all clients equally and don’t leave room for the impression that your favored some and neglected other.
No matter how well written are your website FAQs or how good your customer service is, educating your clients is always a good source of content. Talk to your colleagues and find out all about how to best use your product or services and write about that. Share tips and tricks, workarounds, potential uses your customers might not think about, how to solve a specific task, etc. Not only you’re offering great content, but you’ll contribute to build a good image for your company, make your colleagues’ job easier and ultimately have happier clients.
Tip – Start with your sales or customer service people. Ask them about the topics for which they have to do most of the explaining when meeting clients and write about those first.
4. Redefine originality
Sure, great content should always be original. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to create a new idea with every blog post you share. Plagiarism is not an option, obviously, but aggregation is. Offer value by bringing together useful or interesting information from multiple sources that offers an overview or a timeline. Make an infographic to help visualize facts better. Compile a glossary of frequent used terms. Publish a list with all relevant events in your field with a small description of them. Add your opinion or perspective about it. As long as you offer credit when the credit is due and use good sources, there is nothing to stop you create great content by “borrowing” other content.
Tip – Giving the research part to an intern can be a good way to insure you have a pool of great content at hand to dip into when need it. With a bit of supervising, any intern can make an infographic too, you only have to make sure the right facts are included.
5. Go lateral
Great content doesn’t mean you have to be all about your product and company all the time. No one exists in a bubble and certainly not your clients. Find other topics that interest them, (linked or not to your core business) and write about them. The topic can be something connected with your product, like for instance, writing about inks when you sell paper or sharing news about wedding gowns and flowers when you are a wedding planner. It can also be unrelated, like Groove did. Groove’s blog is a cool success story about promoting your product with content marketing that is not about your product. They built a 5mil/year business for a software product by writing about challenges small companies face on their way up. Read the whole story here, it’s inspiring.
6. Go to your colleagues for fresh opinions and ideas
This is the same advice as the one regarding clients, but with your colleagues. The same way you interview your clients, you can do with your team mates. Not only those who face the clients, but all of your colleagues can give you useful ideas to write about. Maybe they can pull out some interesting statistics from your CRM for you, or give you a list or frequent questions they’ve been asked or even help you compile a list of useful books they read lately that you can turn into an interesting post for your clients.
Tip – While you’re at it, ask them if they will be willing to write too. If you’re lucky, you may discover that one of your colleagues likes to write. Those can help with some posts too. A hidden gem like that can really spruce up your company blog with some different views and style. Don’t forget to thank them with something other than publishing their name on the blog, or they may not want to help you many times in a row.
7. Promote your company culture
If you do fun things at your team buildings or your colleagues have interesting hobbies or even if you have good practices inside your company that your clients might find useful to know, share! If you do it right, you can create great content out of it that is inspiring for your customers and improve your company image in the same time. Just be careful if you dip in this source of inspiration. There is a fine line between inspiring and bragging, be careful not to cross it, or you will turn your great content into a crappy one.
- Your main source of content ideas should always be your customers
- Go further than case studies, white papers or technical selling points, B2B people are people too, with different interests and different reasons to read your blog
- Don’t be afraid to be creative with your sources, as long as you extract valuable content for your customers, that’s all that matters
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