With your audience becoming increasingly immune to marketing messages, it’s now time for you to use more engaging methods. In our latest guide we demonstrate how you can turn the theory of content marketing into practice and start achieving more from your content.
To coincide with the launch of our new guide, in our latest episode of Coast TV Head of Strategy, Darren Bond explains how you can create killer content ideas. Take a look to discover a variety of tips on successful idea generation for content marketing.
Hi folks – welcome to another edition of Coast TV. I’m Darren, I head up strategy at Coast Digital, and today I’m going to be taking you through how to generate killer content ideas. The reason for that is that we’re currently working on a new piece of thought leadership from our side which is about content marketing and turning that theory that everyone seems to have into actual practical ideas and practical, useful things that we can go ahead and apply to our everyday marketing lives.
One of the most interesting parts for me in that is about generating ideas, it’s one of the funnest parts of the whole content marketing thing – it’s kind of the central point of your campaign because if your idea isn’t good then realistically the rest of your campaign isn’t either. So you really need to spend some time thinking about this and putting some real planning and some real inspiration if you like into the start of your campaigns. So I’ve got 3 things I want to take you through.
Firstly it’s about answering questions, and answering questions is a really good way to come up with ideas for a good piece of content. When I think about answering questions, I try and think about that from 3 different points of view. The first one is speaking to your customer-facing staff internally, so have a chat with your customer service team, have a chat with your sales and new business teams, have a chat with your account management function if you’ve got one, and go and ask them what customers are asking them, because if you can get to the bottom of that, if you can really understand what those customer needs are at that early stage by talking to your own internal staff, it’s going to give you some really good ideas for starting to wrap a nice piece of content together, and if you think about a sales guy going out and pitching, if a customer is asking him the same old questions, if he can turn around and say “well here’s a piece of thought leadership that we’ve written on that subject, it’s going to answer all your questions on it”, you’re going to look really good, and you’re going to stand yourself in good stead to go ahead and win that pitch, so it’s a really nice thing to be able to do.
Secondly, if you think about flipping that on it’s head for a minute, one of the things that people often think about is the kind of questions you’re being asked, but also one of the things that really puts that into context is what are the questions that your customers should be asking you but aren’t asking you. That’s really valuable stuff and as experts we should be able to put that thought and that context around those questions, so it really helps develop some powerful thinking and some powerful inspiration in the kind of content that you want to be producing.
Thirdly you want to have a think about the leads that are actually coming through your website at the moment – so we’ve spent time with our customers before running through their saleforce installation or whatever it is and picking out thousands and thousands of leads and running through and just picking out key themes, so what are the key things that your customers are actually asking for when they’re submitting contact forms on your site or when they’re emailing you through, because if they’ve got specific challenges that keep coming up over and over and over again then it’s a really good thing for you to go ahead and answer because you’re going to get a really good number of leads and a really good number of conversions through that piece of content because you’re answering the question that is being asked on a regular basis – really nice thing to be able to do.
Finally on this answer questions point is ask your actual customers, you know, go and speak to customers and assuming you’re delivering a good service (which obviously we all are), you really want to make sure that your customers are involved in the creation of your content. They’ve got the ideas, they’re the ones that have the problems that you need to be able to solve. Go and ask them what they are. You can do that if you’ve got lots and lots of different customers, so if you’re quite, if you’ve got vast numbers of customers then you can actually use surveys and things like that to get lots and lots of quantitative information from those customers, and if you’re only talking to a few then it’s really good to get them on the phone or even face to face because you can get some really good insight directly speaking to customers and a really good insight into what their problems are and what their pain points are. You can then go ahead and solve those with a nice piece of content and it’s going to help you generate some really valuable leads in the future.
Okay, so the next one on this list is “make it practical” – I think one of the things that we see with content marketing at the moment is that everyone’s trying to do it, everyone’s pumping out tons and tons of content, and you really need to stand out and you really need to provide something that’s actually going to make a difference to people. If you think about your target audience and who they are and what’s going to be useful to them based on perhaps some of the questions that have already come up, and you provide something that’s really, really practical.
So for one of our clients over the last year we produced a piece of content for them that was actually really successful and it was something that their customers could actually go and print off and use, so the example I’m talking about, their target audience is landlords, and they wanted to produce a piece of content that was relevant and useful for landlords in their day to day lives. So what we ended up with was a guide to creating inventories which is obviously something that all landlords have to be able to do, and all landlords have to do really well because if they do it wrong then later on when it comes to the tenant moving out they’re going to stitch themselves up by not having a good inventory, so this is something that’s actually really valuable, a really valuable piece of content that they can take away and use in their daily lives, and that piece of content has been absolutely ridiculously successful – more leads from that one piece of content over the year than all the rest of their marketing combined, so it’s been absolutely phenomenally successful. So that’s the kind of thing, if you get this right then you can be really, really successful with it.
I guess thirdly with this, it’s about thinking about what is going to be relevant to your audience, so for us as an agency we’re trying to deal with senior level decision makers on a regular basis and these are people that are pretty time-poor, people that need to have the biggest impact every day when they show up to work, so realistically they’re not going to have time to read a massive piece of content, so for us the rule of thumb we start with is that you don’t have to create “War and Peace” with this stuff, you really need to think about who you’re writing this for, are they going to have time to read something big and heavy? Probably not. Actually is it easier for you to produce something that’s a bit lighter and a bit more creative, perhaps a bit more image-heavy? Yes it is. So go ahead and think about how you can deliver really good valuable content in a way that’s not so word-heavy, that’s not going to take you ages to produce, but it’s also not going to take someone ages to read.
So thinking back, we’ve been doing content marketing stuff at Coast for year and years and years, and actually looking back, we produced a PPC guide back in 2007 and it was a big, hefty piece, somewhere around 30 pages of written content, lots and lots of words, actually quite difficult to get through now when we look back at it. If you compare that to what we released this year – last year in 2013, we actually produced a PPC Idea Book which was just 10 pages – really easy to digest, but also for us, really easy to put together, very valuable still, lots and lots of takeaways, lots and lots of useful tips, and we had really good feedback from it so it’s just as valuable as producing this massive piece of content, probably only took us a third of the time to produce, so really worth thinking about that.
That brings us to the end of the list, but there’s 1 other thing that I want you to think about and that is about stretching these content ideas as far as you possibly can. We’re all limited on time, we all want to get the most out of what we do, so you want to have a think about how you can apply these ideas across various channels and try and get the most reach with them as you can. To give you a live example of that, I’m now recording a video for a piece of content that we’ve written – this is a way for us to get a video on YouTube, we’re going to write a blog post about this video as well, so it gives us a chance to sort of stretch this 1 piece of content into 2 more channels which is our blog and our YouTube channel, so that means anyone searching on YouTube for content ideas is going to find this video, anyone searching in Google might see our blog in Google News, that’s quite a nice thing to be able to do, and it’s also going to give our team here at Coast some really valuable content to share on their social media platforms and give us that little bit more reach, so it’s really important that you think about how you’re going to stretch that content out and how you’re going to get the most from it because what you don’t want to have to do is every time you need to produce a piece of content, you don’t want to have to start from scratch every time, and if you can get lots and lots of pieces of content from 1 piece of overall killer content, then you’re going to do really well. That’s what I want you to think about when you next come to generate some ideas for content creation.
So that brings us to the end of the video, thanks a lot for watching, as I said earlier we’ve done this to promote a guide of ours that we’ve written which you can find in the description below – if you’ve got any questions, do leave them below in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks very much!