If you’re reading this blog, you are likely on board with the idea that creating compelling, useful content for your audience is a vital aspect of your online marketing efforts. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute reports that 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing.
It makes a lot of sense, right? We all know that our potential clients have problems… problems our firms can solve. Furthermore, we know they’re human (or at least they have humans who care about them), which means that there is better than a 99% chance that they use the internet to look for solutions to their problems.
Long story short, we each want our site to be the go to place for our clients to find information that helps them understand and solve (to a certain degree) their problems. Easy enough?
Great, so go ahead.
Do that content thing.
Your next client is eager and ready.
She’s typing something into a Google search right now.
Oh, you’re not sure what to write about? Sometimes I am not either. Herein lies one of the challenges. Fresh new content, written or otherwise, is at the center of every successful inbound marketing strategy.
So how can we keep coming up with new ideas every week? Here’s one way to help you generate blog topic ideas. Let’s call it the multi-hub and spoke blog topic machine. Or you can just call it the answer to your empty piece of paper with “blog post topics” written across the top.
First step: down the left side of a piece of paper make a list of questions your ideal clients are likely to have, that are related to the problems you and your business can resolve. Note they don’t have to be completely within your “lane” - remember, the goal of your blog posts is to be helpful. Let’s take an accounting practice as an example.
Questions our clients have:
How can we pay less in taxes?
What are good business write-offs we should take?
What financial reports should we review monthly?
When is the best time of year to buy new equipment for our business?
...you get the idea. As you make this list, leave four or five lines between items. You’re going to take each question and translate it into four potential blog post topics. Those four topic types are: list, how to, curated, and “newsjacking.
List-style blog topic: Readers love these kinds of posts because they can quickly pick up some very tangible ideas to help with their situation. You see this type all over the web “11 reasons, ideas, techniques to do, avoid, profit from… something.” On the question of avoiding tax expenses, you can see how this would work “7 little-known tax savings opportunities for small businesses” or similar.
“How-to” blog topic: pretty self-explanatory. This is perhaps the first type of post you think to write, and it can be intimidating. First of all, you may get stuck thinking it’s just too complex to explain how to do some aspect of your job. Secondly, you may wonder why you’d want to do that in the first place! After all, your clients pay you for this service -- why would you offer it in a blog post for free? ( I address that line of thinking here.)
What he or she is after is a solution to a simple problem, not an instruction manual in how to be you. Back to the tax question example, a blog post might go down one simple path like “How to organize your business expenses so your accountant can maximize your tax savings.”
Curated blog topic: one of the most overlooked post types. This is a great one to pull out when you’re really struggling to find inspiration to write something original. Simply research other material already online that deals with the same issue. I don’t recommend you pick out what a direct competitor has published, because you’ll need to link to and attribute the source. There’s no need to send your visitors to a competitor simply because your writing juices aren’t flowing! Great sources of material are large (expensive) firms that your ideal clients wouldn’t hire or nationally renowned gurus who write a lot, but aren’t necessarily interested in working directly with your firm’s type of client. Here’s what it takes:
- Research and select an existing piece of content that would help your reader.
- Include a clear reference re: the original author as well as a link.
- Write your own introductory paragraph explaining why you felt this would be helpful information.
- Copy a bit (a paragraph or two, perhaps) of particularly useful information and offer additional commentary.
- Wrap it up with a conclusion and a call-to-action to download your wonderful guide that offers more thorough help! (that’s a topic for another day).
Newsjacking blog topic: What happened in your industry, city, industry you serve, or Hollywood this week? If there is ANY way you can connect it back to the services your firm offers, you’ve got potential to pull together a newsjacking post. Do you want a sliver of the searches people are launching like “[enter famous business here] tax fraud case”? We can do that! Simply write a post “[famous company]’s tax fraud problem and how your business can avoid the same trap.”
So there you have it -- a foolproof strategy for generating content ideas that will help your next client find your firm, recognize your expertise, and value your help.
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