I promise I haven’t gone veering off into woo-woo territory. I’m not talking about developing magic powers that might give you some kind of competitive edge.
I might write fantasy, but I don’t do it here. 🙂
I’m talking about determining the kinds of content that will delight your customers. Content that will solve their problems. Content that they really want.
Now I’ve talked about this before. Obviously if you can talk to your customers then you get an edge. You can hear all the questions they ask all the time. You can hear all of their objections, worries, and concerns.
But sometimes that’s just not possible, especially in the Age of the Internet. If e-commerce is your primary profit vehicle, for example, then you probably don’t have very clear ideas about all of the reasons why your customers hesitate.
You may have some of them, because you probably at least have e-mail customer service, or social media outlets where customers can reach out to you. But it may not be enough to fill an entire blog.
Fortunately, customers give themselves away in a myriad of different ways.
For SEO professionals, keyword research is all about talking to Google. For me, it’s all about talking to customers.
The term “content marketing strategy” receives 880 searches every month. That means that there are 9600 people, each and every year, who need or want to learn more about all of the ways that they can create or improve a content marketing strategy.
That tells me it’s worth spending time talking about it on my blog. Everyone who searches for that term is a potential customer, and I serve that customer (before I ever meet them or ask them for money) by doing everything I can to give them new insights or information about content marketing.
Obviously you’re never going to fixate on just one term. There are questions and pain points buried in many of the keywords that are common to your niche.
And of course, if you’re creating content in this vein you’re making Google happy too. Win-win.
Yahoo Answers or Quora
If someone took the time to go to one of these sites and ask a question then there are probably hundreds of other people who had the very same question.
The answers on these sites aren’t always great. You can do a much better job of answering these questions on their own blog, where they might do you and your potential customers some kind of good.
Obviously you want to skip the quirky questions, the downright insulting questions, or the questions which don’t make much sense. But I found: “What is the difference between content marketing and traditional marketing?” Now that’s a question that has some potential.
Read All About It
Your customers have places that they go to talk about their problems.
It could be a forum. It could be a trade magazine, or even a national magazine aimed at your customer base.
Reading these things tends to tell you a lot about all of the things your target market faces on a regular basis. These can be simple issues, or far more complex issues.
For example, a casual scan of Inc.com tells me that some business owners aren’t entirely sure how to make their Twitter followers happy. It also tells me that there are many who struggle with the challenges raised by approaching content marketing from both an analytical perspective and a creative perspective. (Being heavily right-brained myself, I understand the struggle perfectly). Each of these issues could be grown into a blog post which might be truly useful to my readers here.
Use your imagination.
It may sound silly. But I find it helps me to sit down, close my eyes, and really think about what it’s like to be a member of my target audience.
What kinds of challenges does that sales manager go through every single day? What keeps your average camping enthusiast up at night?
You can draw on your own experiences here. For example, I was never a sales manager, but I was in sales. I’m pretty sure my old sales managers would have liked to read something really effective about reducing turnover, or about coaching their staff into spending more time staring at customers (and less time staring at their windshields).
The aforementioned reading really helps with this as well.
It works for anything.
All four of these methods work for all kinds of businesses. I have used “content marketing” as my primary example because that’s what I do, and because I figured I’d double dip and see if I couldn’t come up with some more blog topics while I was writing this one.
But you could be selling anything. Sailboats. Cooking kits. Nose hair trimmers. Blue duct tape. Insurance. It truly doesn’t matter.
You can read your customer’s minds.