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Marketers responsible for building a content plan for their blog or microsite must start by thinking about how best to determine what topics would be of most value to their audience. Here are 10 secret strategies that we use:

  1. Conferences and Tradeshows – Look through the topics that are being discussed in the current year’s conference schedule for your industry.  If they are talking about a particular subject matter, odds are you should be too.
    • Pro Tip: Copy-paste conference topics into Evernote in bullet format, creating a new note for each subject matter.  Once you have the topics organized by subject, you can clean them up, de-duplicate and edit them for your needs.
  2. eNewsletters – join newsletters from industry associations, publishers and competitors to see what topics they are discussing.
    • Pro Tip: Create an email address just for this purpose.  You don’t have to read any of it (unless you want to) until you know what topic you want to write on, then search your inbox on relevant keywords and study up.
  3. Social Media – On Facebook search on #topic and see what pages come up to join.  On Twitter search on #topic and see what tweets come up.  On LinkedIn join relevant groups.  Follow competitors’ and influencers’ social pages. Find topics that are generating significant discussion and questions that you can answer.
    • Pro Tip: Use a social media monitoring tool like Hootsuite to monitor them all in one place.  If you are a HubSpot user, this can also be done within the platform’s Social Monitoring tool.
  4. Google Autofill – When searching on Google it will automatically start guessing what you are going to type next, based on typical searches.  Start typing keywords and see what comes up.
    • Pro Tip: Go through several pages of the search results to find additional social communities to join – one good one is BrightTALK – as well as publishers and competitors, to sign up for their eNewsletters.
  5. Keyword Research – Similar to the above but more in-depth, create a “Keyword Bible” for your business.  The things people search for most are good topics to write about and you need one anyway.
  6. Quora – Quora is a way better version of Yahoo Answers, where people ask questions about any topic and you can answer.  If people like the answer, they upvote it (or downvote if they don’t). As the community gets to know you, they may request you to answer.  You can also ask questions and request people to answer – some require credits to ask while others will be free.
    • Pro Tip: See what kinds of questions are being asked and expand upon them for your content.
  7. Buyer Personas – If you have done your buyer persona homework already you should know enough about your customers to develop content around their goals, problems, behaviors and buying strategies.
    • Pro Tip: Think horizontally – you don’t have to address only your products or service areas.  This is where mind mapping software such as MindMeister can come in handy, to brainstorm areas of opportunity.
  8. Sales Team – Your sales team is dealing with real-life examples of need and are spending a lot of valuable time putting together proposals.  Be sure to get copies and mine them for valuable information that can be turned into content.
    • Pro Tip: Create an internal system so they can report to marketing what questions and market or product concerns they are hearing from customers.
  9. Customer Service Team – Your customer service team are also important resources, as they are on the front line of the frustrations that customers have. If you know what problems customers are having post-sale, you can answer questions up-front, create videos and other resources that can help to eliminate some of the queries coming in, a win-win!
    • Pro Tip: Once again, the importance of creating a transparent system with the marketing team can not be overstated.
  10. Content Curation Tools – There are numerous curation tools on the market now – two of the best are  Curata and BuzzSumo – which can not only help you to curate and share others’ blog content, but can also help you to quickly see what topics are currently being released to assist in coming up with your own ideas. However, they do come at a fairly significant cost.
    • Pro Tip: For no-cost content curation that requires a more manual process for review and sharing of articles, RSS tools are still quite useful.  Even though it’s no longer being updated, I still like and prefer the FeedDemon interface.  If you have installed Evernote as suggested in #1, you can integrate it in one-click with RSS partner, Feedly, the advantage being that you can tag and save articles into your Evernote account. You can also quickly share articles from Feedly to your social media profiles, however, link shortening is still a manual process so this isn’t of value to me.  I  easily exported my FeedDemon setup as an OPML file and imported it into Feedly, so now I have both.

If you don’t have in-house marketing resources to generate content, contact us to talk about how we can help. We’re flexible to work with you wherever you are at in creating an inbound program.