Let’s face it — content marketing can be a challenge. With the incredibly high volume of blogs, white papers, and eBooks swimming around on the internet, it’s daunting to figure out a way to differentiate your firm from the crowd. But differentiation is critical if you want your content marketing to attract right-fit leads.
A guaranteed way to stand out is to create a variety of content topics that directly address your prospects’ needs and challenges. With the right topic selection, you will stand apart as the expert your audience needs — that elusive needle in the haystack they comb the internet for. And not only will this help your prospects, but it will also set you miles apart from the generic rubbish online, thus improving your overall brand credibility.
It sounds obvious. And maybe even relatively easy. However, most subject matter experts struggle to identify relevant and unique angles for their content.
In the game of content marketing, there are a handful of tactics you should (and shouldn’t) undertake to set yourself up for success.
Best Practices for Lead-Generating Content Marketing
Identify Your Content Marketing Audience
In order to strategically craft content that will address your prospects’ issues, you must first know who they are. Without identifying your target personas, you end up writing for yourself and risk missing the mark. Know who you are writing for before figuring out what you will write about.
And when we say “know” your audience, we don’t just mean identifying a group (i.e., CEOs or CMOs). We mean dig in. Understand their issues, questions, challenges, and day-to-day realities.
At Newfangled, before brainstorming a word of content, we create audience personas for clients’ prospects. Once identified, we ask questions that flesh out these persona profiles. A few include:
- What are their daily responsibilities like?
- What motivates them at work?
- What is their biggest professional risk?
- What makes their job difficult?
These are just a handful of ways to get started on gathering persona market research that will guide you as you begin your content journey. And once you’ve clarified who you are speaking to, you can get to work on identifying what the content theme ideas are for those targets.
Create Questions to Fuel Content Marketing Ideas
Now it’s time to find out what guides — or even frustrates — your identified targets. What is happening in their worlds that could be useful when brainstorming content ideas?
With our clients, we carve out monthly topic discussion time to kick around content ideas across various formats. During these sessions, we often ask guiding questions to help in the discovery of intentional, novel content topics, which should all trace back to your prospects’ needs.
These queries can include:
- What are your existing clients struggling with?
- What are your existing clients happy about?
- What are your prospects telling you in sales calls? What are they challenged by or energized by right now?
- How might current market discussions tie back to the struggles your prospects are facing?
- What site search terms are visitors using that link back to your personas’ identified pain points?
These sample questions will shepherd you through your content ideation process; the answers to these inquiries are often great fodder for actual content topics. The more you ask, the more you are armed with as you plan your content strategy — and the more intentional your content marketing efforts will be.
Once you have a high quality list of content topics, we also recommend reviewing those topics to ensure they possess a distinct point of view. Make sure your POV isn’t too broad or too narrow in scope. It’s important to run a fine tooth comb through your bucket of ideas before moving forward.
What to Avoid When Ideating Content Marketing Topics
We would be remiss not to mention dangers to look out for while on your content topic journey. As with any voyage, there are pitfalls and roadblocks to avoid — ones that will work against your right-fit lead generation efforts.
Topics Are Too Broad
When you first begin brainstorming, it’s natural to throw general content ideas into the ring. And that’s not a bad starting point! But it’s imperative that you chisel those down into sharp ideas that speak to true expertise in a new way. While a single piece of content can address multiple questions or challenges within one pain point, every article should only feature one primary topic. For example, if you’re addressing a prospect’s pain point centered around effective website design, consider narrowing the scope to talk specifically about homepage design challenges. Keep it focused and novel.
Show, Don’t Tell
It’s understandable that you want to tell the world how your service will fix all the things. But the hard truth is your prospects do not want to read about how amazing you are. They want to read about your point of view on topics that speak to their questions — how your service works in practice. So avoid ideating topics that simply pitch your features and benefits. Focus on ones that get at the issue at hand. This way, you end up showing your expertise through your unique ideas on that subject.
Sweating the Competition
We get it. It’s so easy to stalk your competition and see what they are posting on LinkedIn or blogging about. While it’s only natural and smart to take note of your competitive landscape, it’s ineffective to turn around and reuse the same content topics. Needless to say, this shortcut will not yield authentic content that focuses on your expertise. When you regurgitate what your competition is publishing without featuring a new point of view, you are just adding to the online content glut. Focus less on the other guys and put your energy into what your clients and prospects are relaying to you.
A Content Foundation That Delivers Quality Leads
Your content marketing plan takes a little heavy lifting, but the work is worth it. Learn who your right-fit prospects are and what makes them tick. Create a content topic process that involves asking questions that speak to your target personas’ pain points. Attach your firm’s unique point of view.
Trust us — you’ll end up with a library of content marketing topics that will resonate with your audience and set you apart as the experts that you are. Then you can sit back and enjoy the quality leads that come your way.