These days content is king. But where do you find enough ideas to keep feeding that ferocious content machine? The best solution is to know the needs of customers, and then mine those needs for content-inspired ideas. Here are 13 ideas to get you started:
I saw an e-greeting card depicting someone looking into a hand mirror. The caption read:
“I’m only interested in you because you’re interested in me, and I’m what interests me most.”
My point is, as tempting as it is for us business people to create content that is only all about our products and services, the content that really gets read and responded to isn’t company-centric. It’s customer-centric. It’s about what your company can do to help solve a customer’s problem.
The best place to find customer-centric content ideas is with the expert: your customer.
Here are 13 customer-centric ideas to help you populate a myriad of blog posts, webinars, social media updates, white papers, case studies, YouTube videos, newsletters and more.
Content Idea #1: Feature Customers in an Article/Blog
Set up an interview with your customer, not for research purposes, but just to get their insights on an industry trend or other relevant topic. If you can, record the interview, then translate and edit it into a Q&A-formatted story.
Your customer may even offer to write or co-author a guest blog, with your help. Content like this works especially well in business-to-business marketing.
Content Idea #2: Talk to Your Customer Service Department
Your customers are always asking customer service various questions. Identify common or interesting customer questions, and let your content provide helpful answers.
Are there common themes, issues or problems that keep coming up there that may be the subject of a post, article or newsletter? Check the complaint box for ideas.
Content Idea #3: Tap Online and Social Media Resources
If you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or are in a group discussion on LinkedIn, start skimming the questions that come in for ideas. What are targets discussing on your competitor’s pages? Watch for trending topics in your industry, and develop content that resonates with your audience right now.
Content Idea #4: Read Your Own FAQ
You probably have a Frequently Asked Questions section on your website, or in collateral materials. By nature, FAQs are customer-centric — answering common questions — and thus a good starting point for ideas. If your current FAQ is relevant, develop each FAQ item into a deeper, more-detailed web video or other vehicle.
Content Idea #5: Problem/Solution or “How To” Stories
Through true stories and anecdotes your content marketing can show customers how you’re addressing their concerns. These stories can have a natural human interest flow, starting with a problem and ending with the solution, or by describing a step-by-step “how to” approach that incorporates your product. Or create a case study which is more highly structured and formal:
* Here’s the problem.
* Here’s how we fixed it.
* Here’s the result.
Populate your website with this type of content so visitors can learn how to solve minor problems. This will make your content highly relevant, while encouraging customers to turn to you for guidance when larger issues arise.
Content Idea #6: Segment Your Customers
Segment your audience by type, then zero in on each segment’s specific needs/wants content ideas. For example, McDonald’s can segment their audience according to usage (i.e. heavy users) or like this:
* Geographic (McCafe outlets vs. regular stores)
* Demographic (kids, family, students)
* Psychographic (convenience vs. lifestyle)
* Behavioral (morning coffee vs. birthday parties)
Figure out how to categorize and name your customer types. Note the differences and similarities.
Content Idea #7: Find Common Denominator Themes or Topics
If you find similarities between multiple customer segments (as in #6 above), that can also serve as fodder for content ideas. These similar or universal issues will resonate across multiple segments.
Another common denominator is your brand itself. Usually, a brand is known for “one thing.” If you know the “one thing” that customers expect from your brand, then you can use that theme as a kind of mortar that holds together all of your content marketing. For example, Disney is all about magical family entertainment.
What your brand’s one thing?
Content Idea #8: Do Market Research With Your Customer
Are you lacking customer insights? Fill the void with customer research. Think beyond focus groups or surveys and consider online research communities like Digsite. I say this not because that’s my business, but because online communities can be a more affordable and flexible way to dialogue with your customers over long periods of time — to find out what they really care about.
We have done this ourselves — set up Digsite with customers to get ideas for our own content. What we learned was invaluable. For example, the positive response we received led to our developing Quick Guides, which we will make available in early October.
Content Idea #9: Ask for Customer Feedback After the Sale
Invite feedback via your social media sites and through your email newsletter. Do this especially during customer events or after you’ve completed a sale or project for that customer. Ask customers what’s on their minds. Their answers may surprise you.
Content Idea #10: Turn Customer Mistakes Into Content
You can also create “fun” reports on mistakes you see customers making. It may be how they botch a do-it-yourself project at home, when they could have saved time, money and trouble by using your product or service.
You may find enough mistakes to create a Top Ten List of customer mistakes. This type of list/report rings true, touches on a need, and is a fun read for your target audience.
Content Idea #11: Tap Into the Emotions of the Customer Experience
Since emotions play into a customer’s buying decision, get your staff together and brainstorm a list of emotions. For example, how do prospects feel before, during and after they discover your business? How do your best customers feel? How do unsatisfied customers feel?
Content can appeal to the emotions of your prospects/customers at different points in the sales/service continuum. When customers identify with content on an emotional level it can trigger response.
Content Idea #12: Think a Year Out, Think Seasonal
How do your customers spend their time over the year? Are there seasonal events that relate to your prospects and customers (i.e., back to school, EOY contract reviews, 4Q budget decisions)? Meet with your stakeholders and plot out an editorial calendar for your content.
Content Idea #13: Give Something Away
Once a month or quarter offer a free gift to customers (i.e., tickets to a concert, free inspection). Think strategically and choose a gift that your customer really values. Also, think of who you can partner with to help you provide added value or something fun.
There you have it — 13 content ideas to get you going and keep going.
Remember that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t just do a little here or there and expect results. You need to keep up a steady pace of content marketing. Don’t try to become the King of Constant Content. It’s more important to be consistent than constant. Start small so you can keep feeding the content machine.
For the most relevant and meaningful content, turn to your customers.
If you’d like a demo of how to use Digsite to get content ideas, let us know. We’ll be glad to show you how we tapped into an online community to get our content ideas.
See Digsite in action and discover how it fits your needs-join us for an interactive demo webcast!