From driving traffic and leads to your website to providing valuable information and assets for your sales team, there are multiple benefits of having a content marketing strategy. In order to address your prospects' needs and problems as they travel through their buyers’ journey, continuous quality content is an integral part of each stage of the inbound methodology (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight.)
There’s just one problem: What do you write about? How do you generate content ideas quickly while still being strategic and effective?
Through years of experience, we’ve found that you ideally need to publish to your blog a minimum of 1-3 times a week, and publishing new premium content on a regular basis (quarterly, if not monthly depending on your goals). In order to produce 156 blogs (or more) a year, our experts share tips on how to generate content ideas.
1. Know Your Prospects
“The best place to look for content ideas is the people who consume your content – your prospects,” advises Dean Moothart, LeadG2 Director of Client Solutions. “What do they want to know? What do they find important? Now you may not be able to survey your prospects, but you can talk to the people who are closest to them —your sales team.”
Your target audience wants original content that is valuable to their unique problems. They want digestible information that is actionable, whether that is in the form of a blog post, infographic, or video. 41% of the content marketing challenge is knowing how to produce the types of content that engages your prospects. So, step number one is to understand their needs.
2. Brainstorm with Your Team
As Dean mentioned above, if you can’t survey your prospects, talk to the people closest to them —your sales team. He advises asking your sales team to list the top 10 questions they get from prospects at various stages of the buying journey.
- What questions do prospects ask you before agreeing to that first appointment?
- What questions do prospects ask you during the first appointment?
- What questions to prospects ask you during the needs assessment?
- What questions do prospects ask you after the proposal has been presented?
- What questions do prospects ask your references?
“Getting this specific will help your sales team focus their brainstorming, and their responses will help you map content ideas to the various stages of the buying journey,” he states.
LeadG2 General Manager, Dani Buckley agrees by adding, “Ask your salespeople what questions or objections they’re hearing. Conducting a creative problem-solving session is a great way to get new content ideas.”
As a Content Manager at LeadG2, Kim Peek shares expert advice on how to involve your team while brainstorming content ideas:
- Use the email or your company's chat app to conduct a quick eStorming session. At an appointed time, ask everyone to take a two-minute break for an eStorming session. Once the facilitator shares the problem statement, each participant types in as many ideas as possible in the allotted time.
- Provide opportunities for different personality types to contribute. Recognize that not everyone excels at rapid-fire brainstorming. You probably have team members who will contribute high-quality ideas if you give them a deadline and a chance to mull the question over.
- Quality brainstorming starts with a well-defined problem statement. The problem statement keeps your brainstormers focused on one specific problem. As ideas start to dry up, the brainstorming facilitator can introduce different stimuli to prompt creative thinking. For example, if you are brainstorming “In what ways might we keep our sales force in front of potential customers in a challenging economic market,” you could switch the focus to “In what ways might we keep our sales force in front of potential customers throughout the winter holidays.”
- Don't judge the ideas—yet. While you’re brainstorming, the goal is to gather as many ideas as possible. Remind participants that this is not the time to judge ideas. Save the discussion for what will and won't work for a later time and encourage even the most ridiculous ideas. You never know what creative idea one "impossible" idea might spark in someone else.
3. Learn From Industry Leaders and Search Forums
Looking at the topics that your competitors are producing and adding your unique perspective and expertise is one way to generate new content ideas. But you can go beyond competitors and look at the companies you admire. “Look at industry leaders, like industry publications, they often have a pulse on trends,” Dani recommends.
Browsing social media pages such as Pages to Watch on Facebook or following thought leaders on LinkedIn, often inspire content that your prospects need. Inbound Marketing and Sales Consultant, Isha Bell also adds, “ Reddit is gold. People use Redditt to do a lot of venting and ranting. In those rants lie gold content ideas for future use. Go to any niched community and type in the search “Help,” “Confused,” or “Frustrating” —and you’ll find a lot of commentaries that can be the starting point of a great blog post. If it’s a recent thread, once you create the help article, you can also post the link in the thread. This adds value to the thread and positions you as the thought leader.”
4. Use Your Analytics
Aside from talking to prospects, one of the best ways to find what prospects like to read on your blog is to use your analytics. “Review the performance metrics of your blog,” Dean recommends. “What are your most popular posts? What topics are driving traffic?”
Once you perform a content audit, both Dean and Dani agree that you can find new ways to approach the same topics and put a new spin on the content. Dean suggests sharing a new perspective or addressing an additional nuance.
5. Use Research Tools
There are dozens of content research tools that can help you generate new content ideas. Marketing Content Coordinator, Amanda Meade recommends using these tools for inspiration when you have writer’s block:
- Google Alerts
- Impact Inbound’s Blog Title Generator
- Google Keyword Planner
“These are just a few resources I use when I find myself planning a content calendar,” Amanda states. “As a content writer, I always look for high-volume keywords and trending topics. Once I perform keyword and content research, I apply smart keyword planning to blog posts.”
Think Content Strategy First
Every great inbound marketing and sales enablement plan includes a well-thought-out content strategy. Creating content just for the sake of saying you have a company blog will not lead to conversions, and it will not guide your prospects down the sales funnel.
As you apply these expert tips on how to generate content ideas, keep your content strategy in mind. Ask yourself, what are your goals? What tools are you using to track analytics and leads? A customized content strategy that is built for sales performance and conversions will produce the leads you desire.