Posted on Mon, Feb 11, 2013

easy blog idea generationIf you've been doing even a little reading about internet marketing and blogging in particular, you have no doubt heard the term "CONTENT IS KING".  This means that the content of your blog is what will get you found on internet searches.  If we follow this train of thought, then it means your blog should have content that your customers are searching for.  In other words, content that they will find useful.

Before making a decision to buy a product or service, a prospective customer will usually start with an internet search.  Those searches will often not be for a particular product or business, but posed as a query or statement of a problem or issue the prospective customers want resolved.

For example, Converse sneakers wanted to tap into the ad-leery teen market. They saw that teenage boys were frequently searching the term “how to talk to girls”.  Based on this question (or search term), Converse built a number of microsites for “Out of Your League Girl” with a very attractive female giving the viewers advice on talking to girlsWhile the websites featured the Converse logo, and links to the main site, it did not force visitors to go to the corporate home page. The content was in a separate place, with the logo visible but not intrusive.

While you might not have the resources, time or inclination to create a separate website to answer a prospective customer’s question asked in a Google search, you can still answer questions effectively through your blog.

So how do you determine what prospective customers will find useful without engaging in expensive surveys and focus groups?  Here are 6 sources of customer questions for easy business blogging:

  1. Ask for feedback from your customers about what questions they have about your business (and competitors) in your emails. Your customers are your best source of questions about your business.  Their questions are usually “evergreen” questions.  What do I mean by “evergreen”? That means that their questions are usually ones you get asked over and over again by different customers.  If these customers are asking the same questions, you can be sure your prospective customers will have the same questions.  Creating blog posts based on answering these questions will continually attract new visitors wanting answers to the same questions.  This is evergreen content. 

  2. Start conversations on social networks. Engage fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites and draw content from their comments. Again, potential customers will ask questions that you now have an opportunity to answer.  If they ask and you answer their questions, you will create a one-to-one relationship that could eventually transform into a long-lasting business relationship.

  3. Use your existing blog:  review readers’ comments on your posts and use those as potential future topics.  You can encourage subscribers to contact you with questions, comments, product reviews or whatever else is on their minds.

  4. Chat with customers in your store. Call your most loyal clients for interviews. Set out comment cards and on-line surveys to gather feedback.  On-line survey tools like SurveyMonkey make it easy to gather customer feedback.

  5. Talk to your sales reps: they are probably your best source of blog content since they are continually being asked questions by their customers.  Ask them what questions they get from customers and be sure to find out how your sales reps answer these questions.  If your business is a national or global business, you will also find geographical differences in the types of questions customers ask.  Your answers may differ from region to region.

  6. Talk to family and friends who don’t know your industry. What questions do they have about your business?

Each question or comment has the potential to become a blog.

New bloggers should start content generation with this tip: schedule a brainstorming session with your marketing, sales, customer service and technical personnel – anybody that comes into contact with your customers.  Write down on a sheet of paper, flipchart or whiteboard EVERY question a prospect/customer has ever asked you.  Don't over-analyze or edit, just write. The questions you are probably always asked are “How much does your product/service cost?” or “How do you use your product/service”.  Yes, you can answer these questions in a blog post.

Collect 10 questions.  Then do it again and again and aim for 100 questions. This may not all be accomplished in one session and may take a few sessions, but once you start, it will begin to build on itself and you’ll be surprised how quickly you will reach 100 questions.

Once you have the questions written down, you already have the experts in the room who know how to answer these questions, have answered these questions over and over again so they can help you answer these questions.  Divide these questions among the group to answer. Many hands make light work, right?

At this point, you will probably hear “But we don’t have TIME to write these answers out for you!  We have our jobs to do”.  That’s true; everyone has a full plate in their own jobs.  Solution: if they don’t have time to write, voice record the answers.  Since these “experts” already know the answers and can answer them in a conversation at the drop of a hat, they may be more comfortable speaking the answer than trying to write them out (I’m one of them!).  Get them on a roll talking and look out!  Most people have a smart phone with a voice recording feature or app that you can use to record the answers.  These recordings can then be transcribed into text and there you have it – blog posts.  The question is the blog title and the answer is the blog body.

If you intend on blogging twice a week, 100 questions will give you about a year’s worth of blog ideas!  However, we suggest you try for 30 questions to start.  If each is turned into a blog, at 2 blog posts per week, you will have a little more than 3 months worth of blogs.  That is a respectable start. Once you get to a year’s worth of blogs, you will notice that some are still relevant and you can repurpose those articles into new articles.  If you are using HubSpot’s Blog module, you can review the blog analytics to find out which topics are the most popular and are attracting the most traffic to your website.  Of course, you can also answer any new questions from you clients.  Happy content generation!

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Tags: blogging, marketing on a shoestring budget, Inbound Marketing