B2B marketers know that content creation – and blogs in particular – is a critical part of the marketing arsenal. Yet many balk at the thought of creating new content on a consistent basis. How do you get enough ideas? How do you create content that keeps readers coming back? And how do you do it all when content isn’t the only thing you’re responsible for?
As a person who runs a blog or two and is a contributor to several others, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to keep the content machine going. Here are some of the points that really resonated with me.
Learn to Teach
When I have a business decision to make, I start by doing my research online. I would guess that you do too. With that thought in mind, Sheridan advises that you begin to think of yourself as a teacher, with your blog posts being the classroom material.
Consider the questions your customers ask when they’re researching your products or solutions. Do they want to know about something that’s related to your industry but doesn’t directly have to do with your products? Write about that. Do they want to know about how you stack up vs the competition? Write a fair and honest comparison – without shying away about the pros and cons of everyone, including you. Do they want to know about pricing? Write about how much your offering costs. (Sheridan says it’s also OK to answer “it depends” on that one – as long as you explain why.)
Be the best and most honest teacher around and you’ll gain customer trust. Gain customer trust and you’re on your way to making a sale.
Be Honest and Transparent
I mentioned this in the section above, but it was something Sheridan stressed repeatedly and I heartily agree with him. You MUST be as honest and transparent as possible. The moment a customer feels like a business is hiding something, the trust is lost. And it’s not something you’re going to get back.
Don’t shy away from hard topics just because you’re worried about what the customer will think. Not talking about a subject as nearly as bad as being dishonest about it. For example, say on your website who might not be interested in being your customer and why that’s so. Sheridan even went so far as to say, “It’s more important to say on your website who you’re not a good match for than who you are a good match for.”
Keep It Simple, Stupid
The goal of great content is to keep it accessible. Don’t get caught up in technical speak. I find this often happens when I’m working with bloggers. They are super smart people, but they are so caught up in being experts in their space that they forget that the rest of us don’t know every acronym in the book.
This is not to say that you can never go into technical detail. However, be aware that many of your readers won’t understand you unless you explain what you’re saying in clear and straightforward language.
Don’t Go It Alone
Eliminate the barriers between sales, marketing, customer support, and any other group that talks to customers. These are the best people to get blog topics from, because they hear the questions your clients and prospects ask every day.
Get a group of customer-facing employees together in a room and take an hour to brainstorm a list of questions they hear on a consistent basis. Write them all down and you’ll likely have enough blog post topics to take you through the next few months, if not the next year.
There is power in using multiple employees to produce content and build the company brand. Develop a corporate culture of listening and teaching – these are powerful tools.
Moreover, understand that there are different personality types in your company. Some people are better for taking on certain jobs than others. For instance, there are writers who can produce text-based blog posts. But there are also actors who would do better with video, talkers who could create great podcasts, and questioners who are great for brainstorming about new topics. Each person is valuable. Use their strengths to your advantage.
A final, bonus tip: recognize that developing a content culture isn’t a one-time thing. Keep the content culture going through newsletters and trainings throughout the year. No doubt it adds to the workload, but persevere – it’s worth it!