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4 Steps To Create A Perfect Marketing Strategy

The 4-step marketing strategy - How to stand out from your competition in the minds of your ideal customer  

With the current obsession around marketing tactics, it has become increasingly harder to figure out the best marketing strategy for your business.

From hacks and quick fixes to the next big idea and new trending platforms. It is harder than ever to decide the right direction for your marketing. 

In order to help alleviate some of the marketing confusion, I’ve created a definitive outline for you in this post, 4 concrete steps to the perfect marketing strategy. You can use this article to help you create a clear marketing message, direction, and plan.

The 4 steps needed to create a perfect marketing strategy in 2022;

Want to get all the worksheets you need to complete your perfect strategy?


Customer Focus

First, you need to narrow your focus to somewhere around the top 20% of your clients. This doesn't necessarily mean that you chuck the other 80%, but experience tells me that if you are working with customers and clients today, some percentage of them are not profitable for your business. 

The majority of your customers are actually detractors from your business because they didn't have the right problem or they didn't have the right business situation for your product to solve. 

Think about your client base today and rank them into groups by profitability with your most profitable customers at the top. You want to think in terms of profitability because profitability is linked to an ideal client fit.

profit-referrlas-quadrant-chart

Typically a client is a profitable client because they received value, they had a great experience, their problem was solved, and they referred your product to others. If you understand who your profitable clients are you can start to do two things;

First, you can generate more business from that top 20% of customers because that top 20% want to do more business with you. It is far easier and less costly to continue to do business with people who already trust you vs trying to gain a new person's trust. If you focus your efforts on creating an amazing experience for those clients who already trust, get value, and are referring you to others. You could actually build our business around serving and attracting them and no one else. 

Second, if you know who they are and what brought them to you, you can begin to build the ideal customer persona for your business based on historical data and profitability. Then you can design your marketing around that customer persona and attract more of the ideal customer, more of the top 20%.

When building your customer persona you want to organize your customer base into three customer groups; must-have, nice-to-have, and ideal.

For example, a remodeling contractor must-have customers who own a home that they want to remodel. Imagine that same remodeling contractor works with his wife who is an interior designer. Now customers who are looking to remodel and redesign their home go in their nice-to-have bucket. Next, that husband and wife decide they want to focus the business on high-quality materials and modern home design. Now their ideal customer owns a home they want to remodel and redesign with a modern theme and is in the top 10% income bracket.

Ask yourself, what are those ideal customers for you? Who are your must-haves, nice-to-have, and ideal customers? My ideal customer workbook contains the same tools and worksheets Duct Tape Marketing uses to create our ideal customers. 

Ideal-customer-behavior-worksheet

Ideal Customer Behavior worksheet from "How To Create The Ultimate Marketing Strategy" workbook

Solve the problem

Now that you know who your ideal customer is, the next step in creating the perfect marketing strategy is to figure out what problem you are actually solving for your customers. 

The truth is, nobody wants what you sell. They just want their problem solved. So instead of just selling a product, communicate to them that you understand and that you get their problem. Help them see that your product or service is the solution to their problem. That is when they will start to listen to you and begin to trust you. 

So how do you do this?  

- You create a core message that promises to solve that problem. 


For example, public universities have a problem. In many cases, their funding is dictated by their graduation rates. How many students graduate is directly correlated to the funding that universities receive and therefore what they must charge for tuition. They are constantly looking for ways to curb tuition rates. So we have a client that provides scheduling software for universities. We went and talked to the universities that used this company's software. They confirmed that the software worked well, but what they really loved was the great data and analytics the software provided. It allowed for more efficient scheduling and ultimately made tuition more affordable. We discovered that this software company makes great software, but they also make tuition more affordable. Tuition cost was the differentiator, the problem that they were solving.

Now, you are probably asking yourself, how do I do this for my company? How do I know the problem I am solving? What you need to do is get on the phone or in-person and talk to your ideal clients and ask them; how did you find us in the first place, what made you hire us, why did you stick with us? 

Those are some questions you can start with, but be sure to go deeper in your line of questioning. Have your customers go into detail with their answers. Don’t just ask, “Were you happy with my service?” Instead ask, “Can you tell me a specific time when we provided good service and what we did to make it such a positive experience?”

After enough of these informational interviews, you are going to start hearing themes that are addressing the real problems that you solve. 

Another great resource is Google reviews. But instead of just paying attention to five-star reviews, read the actual reviews line by line. When people voluntarily turn to a third party like Google and leave a glowing review it is an indicator that they have been thoroughly impressed. You have exceeded their expectations. You have solved their problem. 

What is the real problem that you are solving? That is what you need to uncover. And once you know it needs to be what you lead with for all of your messaging, it is your core message.

strategy forms

Create an end-to-end customer journey

A lot of people talk about the customer journey like it's a funnel. As if we create demand through this funnel. We shove them through this funnel process, they pop them out the other side, and voila that's the end of the journey. Well, that is not at all true, at least not anymore.

In just the last five years, marketing has undergone many changes. The thing that has changed the most about marketing is how people choose to become customers. That marketing funnel and that linear path no longer exist. The customer journey today is holistic and nonlinear. You no longer see an advertisement for a product, visit the store, and purchase that product. The steps between awareness and purchase are diverse and varied and oftentimes intertwined. People make decisions about the products and the services that they buy out of our direct control. Marketing today is less about demand and more about organizing behavior. 

This obsession with funnels and funnel hacking and tactics is really driving a lot of challenges for small businesses. First and foremost, we have to understand how to guide people on the journey that they want to go on. 

I know it is hard to keep up when it seems like there's some new thing that we have to do as marketers every single week. There is so much we have to do across so many platforms just to stay relevant, look at the data.

61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact the local business if they have a mobile-friendly website. So we've gotta really look at our websites and all these different devices.
87% of potential customers won't consider a business with low ratings. Now there are all these sites where people are able to go and leave reviews about our brand. And we have no control over that narrative.  
64% of consumers say watching a video on Facebook has influenced a purchase decision. So not only do we have to be on all of these channels. Now we have to mold all of our content to the exact same way or to the specifications and algorithms of the platform of the month.
92% of consumers will visit a brand's website for the first time, for reasons other than making a purchase. Our website is not there to just take orders. It provides a service as well.

So I get the obsession with tactics and channels, but with this constantly changing landscape how can you possibly stay up to date? The answer lies in rethinking the customer journey. 

86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience and 83% of business owners claim their main source of new business is referrals. These stats prove that the customer journey does not end at the point of sale. There is profitability in focusing on what happens after somebody becomes a customer.

This leads me to the third and linchpin element of the perfect marketing strategy; the marketing hourglass. 

If you think about the hourglass shape the top of the hourglass borrows from the traditional sales funnel idea. After all, you have to get some percentage of the market out there to know about you and an even smaller percentage to realize that they are an ideal client for your business.

For so many businesses, that's where it stops right at the throat of the hourglass. But with the marketing hourglass, the excitement really needs to happen again, after the sale. 

The marketing hourglass consists of seven stages or behaviors. The seven stages are; know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.  

marketing-hourglass-journey

The Marketing Hourglass - Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, Refer

The first three stages are where you create the relationship. By guiding people through these stages, showing up, educating them, and building trust. That's how you attract your ideal customer and show people why they should pay a premium to do business with you.

Know

If we have a problem we want to know who's out there. What are the answers? What are the solutions? 

We run advertising and we show up. When somebody goes out and searches we have our content out there. We are participating in social media and building communities.

And then once we land on somebody, what do we do? We immediately go to their website and investigate. We assess if the site looks out of date or tacky. It might load really slowly or the forms might not work. All of those small moments contribute to our larger assessment of whether we like the company or not.  And we ask ourselves, is this a company that can solve my problem? Do I think they have the answer? All of these are things we take into account when moving people past that first impression threshold. 

Trust

Next comes trust. We start looking for visual cues. We start asking ourselves, who else trusts them? Who else have they delivered results to? We start to look for familiar logos and referrals from companies we know. Do I see people who are really smart and reputable? Do I see the company being featured in publications? Is there social proof? Are there reviews? Are they working with people that I know? And most importantly, are they working with people like me, people that have the same problem as me? 

The next two stages, try and buy, build the bridge for long-term success. Scaling and growing a business with your ideal customers does not happen after you get the customer, it happens at these two stages. 

Try

The try stage does not just include a 30-day free trial offer. It is much bigger than that. Every time a potential customer picks up the phone and calls your business they are given a trial run of what it might be like to work with you. So what does this stage look like for your business? What is your inbound caller process and what trials do you offer? Do you offer a free quote, free evaluation, or introduction call? Do you provide forms or worksheets for them to try? What are you giving them that allows them to try before they buy? If you can offer value in your free or low-cost options people will be more likely to invest their money in you because they have seen what you can deliver already. 

Buy

Next is buy or how the transaction happens. Most of us have been let down at some point when we've bought. Buyer's remorse is a real thing. We want the buying experience to be just as great as all the other experiences leading up to it. 

So you have to think about how you deliver your product? Do you have onboarding? Do you have an orientation? Can you communicate how you're going to communicate? What is the actual content?

Content is not just created to get an order or customer. In fact, one of the best uses of content is after the sale to teach people what they purchased, show them how to get more value, show them what else you sell. 

The final two stages of the marketing hourglass lead to scalability. Learn to scale with your clients, as opposed to constantly relying on going out and getting more clients. 

Retention

What does your retention process look like? Are you continuing to educate? Do you have special offers for existing clients? Are you cross-promoting? If you focus on discovering what else they need and consistently delivering value even after the sale those customers will stick with you.

Refer

Texas Tech just surveyed 2,000 consumers and 86% of them said they had a business they loved so much that they would happily refer. But only 29% said that they actually made that referral. So maybe there's some money in closing that over 50% gap of those customers of ours that love us, but never tell anybody about us.  

What are you doing to stay top of mind with your clients? What are you doing to nurture those champion clients? There is a huge amount of business in co-marketing and developing strategic partners outside of your client base. 

These all have to be intentional processes that you build into your overall marketing plan. Marketing doesn't stop after running a couple of Facebook ads and delivering some free content. It is the entire process. It is the entire end-to-end customer journey. If you really want to build momentum, if you really wanna scale your business, then marketing doesn't end until someone else is telling other people about your business.  

marketing strategy

Content 

The last stage in creating the perfect marketing strategy for your business is content. Are you tired of constantly creating and delivering new content? What if I told you that you did not have to.  

So many people, like myself, stood up on stages 10 years ago and said, content is king and everybody believed it. The content was like air, you needed it to survive. You could not play in the marketing game without a fair amount of content or a real focus on content. 

People started to try to create so much content, so quickly that there was just a content dump without any real strategic goals. Content is not a tactic. It is the voice of strategy. 

Content is not just blog posts. Your emails, videos, case studies, referral events, what you do and say when networking; it is all content. And content needs to be focused on guiding people through each of the stages of your marketing hourglass. Content is a tremendous lever to help you guide people through the stages. 

Landing pages, blog posts, core web pages, free tools. These are the types of content that people are going to consume when they're doing initial research and getting to know your business.  

content-strategy-quote

Next, when they go to your website what happens? Are there tip sheets or how-to videos? With this type of content, they will decide if they like you and if you know what you are talking about. 

Then in the trust category, the content is a little more segmented. Your customer is starting to ask themselves if you understand what their needs are? The content strategy here is case studies, webinars, comparison guides, and engagement. 

 The next question they will ask is, is there something I can try? Do you offer communities to join, free assessments, or samples as part of your content strategy?

 At the buying stage do you have content created for demos, audits, FAQs? 

 When it comes to producing content for the repeat stage, how do you go about it? What do your social media content, cross-promotion, and user roadmaps look like?

Last but not least, your referral content includes reviews, referral training, strategic partnerships, and co-marketing among others. Ask yourselves where are you leading your customers after they purchase? 

Each one of these stages has a need for a specific type of content. As a marketer, you need to consider every piece of your content that you're thinking about producing and make sure it focuses on a stage of your end-to-end customer journey. Your content will become the voice of your strategy. Your content will be useful instead of just another tactic. 

Duct Tape Marketing is a big part of my firm's success! First it was the books, then an assessment and then a long-term coaching relationship. I would not be where I am today without their insights and focused counsel. Most importantly they are just a pleasure to work with and I wouldn't hesitate engaging them. 

Jack McGuinness

Relationship Imapct

"Working with Sara and the Duct Tape Marketing team has been beyond what I could have hoped for! As a doctor who is very busy dealing with patients and trying to run a business, I can't say how much I appreciate how organized, efficient, and goal-specific they are. I truly had NO idea what went into building a brand, a website, and marketing a business.

Dr. Elizabeth Turner

Fox Point Dental

website

How to Put Your Website At the Center of All Your Marketing

Your website is the heart of your online marketing presence. It’s the one place on the internet over which you have full control of visuals, messaging, and content. Everything else that you do online should drive visitors to this website.

But that’s just it, there are a lot of other online channels to consider, from various social media to paid and organic search to local listings. With all these other marketing channels in the mix, it’s best to plan everything around your website and to work out from there. Here are the steps to getting that done.

1. Publish a Website That Works

First thing’s first, you need to create an effective website! I’ve talked before about our Model for Marketing Maturity; it’s all about making sure that the basic marketing elements are in place before moving onto the more advanced elements. You have to crawl before you can walk and run! As you can see, a marketing website is at the very top of the list for our initial build phase. If you don’t have a great marketing website in place, now’s the time to fix that.

Build, Grow, Ignite marketing maturity index

That means creating a website with a modern promise and trust elements. It should be mobile-friendly with a smart, simple design that’s easy to navigate. It should have a strong SEO strategy, complete with metadata, keyword research, and off-page elements.

Each page should have a call to action aimed at driving conversions. Plus, you’ll want to share content in a variety of forms—blog posts, videos, and podcasts—that is valuable for your audience and helps establish you as the go-to resource for any information in your area of expertise.

Once those basic elements of a great website are in place, you can begin to turn your focus outward to integrating the other online marketing channels into your plan.

2. Create Organic Social Media

We include social media in the foundational build stage of the Marketing Maturity Index as well, and that’s because social media has become an essential part of most people’s daily online experience. Sites like Facebook tout billions of daily users, and so it’s critical that you have a presence on these major social sites.

In establishing profiles on these sites, you want to make sure that your messaging and design are aligned with what’s happening on your website. Logos, color schemes, and the voice and tone adopted in copywriting should sync up with what visitors will find if they end up on your website. A disconnect in look and feel between social assets and your website can put prospects off and erode trust in your brand.

Once you’ve established the basic profile (which includes your website URL, of course!), you can begin to leverage the power of social media to actively drive visitors to your website. Sharing content that’s housed on your website is one of the easiest ways to do so. Whenever you create a blog post, explainer video, webinar, or podcast episode, share this content on social media. The content should be accompanied by a little blurb, letting followers know what it’s all about, and a link that directs them to the content on your website.

3. Build Out Email Marketing

Email marketing is an essential component of a complete marketing system, but it can sometimes feel disjointed and separate from your website. Because you’re communicating directly with your audience via email, what’s a website got to do with it?

There should be a symbiotic relationship between your email list and your website. A great website includes lead capture forms, so that interested visitors can sign up for your mailing list, and you can in turn gather valuable information about who they are.

Plus, the content in emails sent out to your list should include links back to your website. Perhaps you send a monthly newsletter, which can link to relevant blog content on your site. Maybe you send emails about new products that are about to launch, and the link in the email sends readers to a page on your site with exclusive insider information about the soon-to-be-publicly-announced product.

4. Add Paid Social and Search

Once you’ve established an organic presence on social media, you can begin to broaden your marketing horizons into paid social and paid search. With paid social and search efforts, you can create ads that are targeted at specific groups. This can mean people living in a certain geographic area, people who are already customers, or people with a demographic profile similar to the customers you already have.

After segmenting your audience and creating ad copy that speaks to each subset of the population, the final step in establishing a successful ad campaign is to have a landing page on the website that’s designed specifically for each ad.

A landing page that’s tailored to the messaging in the ad can help to boost conversion rates in paid social and search advertising. Rather than sending visitors to a generic page on your website, they’re greeted with the information that’s specific to the ad campaign that caught their attention in the first place. This means it’ll be easier for them to find the information they want and then take action.

5. Integrate Offline and Online Tactics

While online marketing is essential for modern business, it’s important not to neglect offline tactics as well. Particularly for local businesses, there’s often value in advertising in more traditional channels, like local print ads in the city’s newspaper or a direct mail campaign for neighbors.

Even though these tactics are happening offline, it’s possible to still drive traffic from offline marketing efforts to your website. Creating UTM codes is an effective way to track where traffic is coming from. In fact, if you create separate codes for each offline tactic, you can measure the results of each print ad, direct mailer, or radio spot you run.

An effective website should be the heart of any business’s marketing efforts. Whether online or offline, all marketing roads should lead back to that site. This gives you the power to better understand your audience, control your messaging, and drive conversions along each stage of the customer journey. But a great website can’t exist in a vacuum; it does need all of the other marketing efforts around it to be its most effective self.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

Building an Effective Total Online Presence

The Three Elements of an Effective Total Online Presence

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Total Online Presence

Business owners today understand that being visible online is important. But what does having an online presence really mean? It’s a lot bigger than just having a website and a Facebook page. And when you look at the statistics on how consumers behave online, it’s easy to understand why. Did you know that:

  • 77 percent of searches on mobile devices are followed up by an action within an hour;
  • 87 percent of potential customers won’t consider a business with low reviews/ratings;
  • 7 out of 10 consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information on social media sites; and
  • 82 percent of small business owners claim their main source of new business is still referrals?

All of these statistics demonstrate the importance of having a total online presence that is fully integrated. That means that the total online presence shouldn’t supplant everything else you’re already doing—it needs to support it.

In order to make the most of the way that consumers interact with brands online, there are three fundamental elements of strategy for your online presence: website, SEO, and content. These are bigger than just tactics, they’re strategic components; as such, they need to be blended together in an effective and efficient way.

Below, we’ll take a look at the three elements of your total online presence, and how to get them working in tandem to bring you the greatest results.

Creating an Effective Website

The way that both search engines and people search has changed how websites need to work today. Your homepage isn’t just a placeholder and index for all of your links. It’s now the start of a journey—it’s where you build the know, like, trust, and try elements of your relationship with customers.

The first thing your homepage must do is demonstrate how you solve the biggest problem your prospects are facing. No one comes to a website looking for a product or service; they come looking for a solution to their problem. If you can prove that you understand their issue, then you can begin to talk about how you solve it (with your products and services).

The content on your homepage needs to back up your claims. Video is becoming an increasingly important element in building trust. A video featuring your team talking about your deep understanding of the problems your prospects face builds trust. Not only do they feel like you really know what you’re talking about, but the simple act of seeing your face and hearing your voice builds a personal connection that makes the trust grow even faster.

You also want to provide an evaluation or checklist in order to give prospects a way to try your approach. When they can see the way you work to solve their problem, they gain confidence in your ability to get the job done.

Beyond those basic content elements, your website also needs to address two major technical hurdles in order to be competitive today. First, it must work on a mobile device. In 2018, Google announced that they’d be using mobile websites, rather than desktop websites, as their main basis for indexing and ranking. This means that if you don’t have a mobile site (or you have one that isn’t optimized for mobile), you’re lagging behind your competitors and falling in Google search rankings. Second, security and privacy are becoming bigger and bigger concerns for consumers. After years of watching some of the giants like Facebook and Target stumble with online security, consumers are looking for small businesses who work hard to guard their personal information. This means ensuring that you have an HTTPS site and that you are encrypting any data you collect from visitors.

Search Engine Optimization

It’s Google’s world, we’re just living in it. Whether you like it or not, Google is the biggest player in the online game, and so a small business owner’s chief concern needs to be optimizing for Google. But at the same time, you can’t lose sight of your customers and optimizing for their human needs.

The first thing that any small business owner should do to ensure they’re ranking well with Google is take a deeper look at Google My Business. I’ve talked before on the podcast about the importance of this tool, but Google continues to build out this platform and further integrate it with other tools. In fact, I suspect that in 2019 it may become Google’s very own social platform, allowing small business owners to interact with their customers. But for now, at the very least, it’s the number one way in which small businesses are being found by people looking for local solutions.

This means you should be taking your Google My Business presence seriously. If you haven’t done so already, claim your business and make sure there are no duplicate entries. Ensure the category of your business is specific, and that the name, address, and phone number all sync up with what you have on your website. Add photos and videos, posts, and descriptions to your profile. You can even use Google My Business to connect directly with customers and prospects through text messaging.

You also want to be sure that your website is giving you the best shot at ranking locally. Fill your pages with local data, content, and resources. And beyond what is actually on your website for prospects and customers to find, you need to be paying attention to the metadata behind the scenes. Make sure your titles and descriptions are helping you rank for those search terms that matter most to your prospects.

Reviews are the final piece of the SEO puzzle. They have become a significant factor in how you rank. Businesses with few reviews or poor reviews will fall behind those with lots of good reviews. And as with all of the other elements of SEO, while reviews matter for rankings, they also matter for the people reading them. Having reviews—and good ones at that—will make prospects far more likely to give your business a try.

Content Beyond Blogging

Today, it’s pretty common for “content” to be used interchangeably with “blog posts.” But in reality, content is much bigger than that. Content drives every channel. Whether it’s advertising, email marketing, social media, community events, videos, referral offers, or text messaging, these are all forms of content (or at the very least channels where content is needed).

When you’re developing content, you need to be catering to every stage of the customer journey. A great way to do this is through the creation of hub pages. These pages allow you to structure your content around specific topics. When you centralize all of your knowledge on a given topic within a hub page, that allows the content to be shared more easily and to draw attention in ranking.

Beyond just creating a centralized page for relevant content, you want to be sure you’re marrying content upgrades to those hub pages. If you have a page that ranks, attach a free checklist or eBook so that you can begin using all of that content to capture leads.

I’ve Got My Strategic Elements—Now What?

As you can see, these three main elements of your total online presence all go hand in hand. This means that you also need to get your website, SEO strategy, and content working together to generate and capture leads, so that you can begin the process of nurturing them and converting them to customers.

Building an effective strategy is about addressing the needs of your prospects and customers all along their journey. Whether they’re in the earliest stages of the marketing hourglass, and are just coming to know and like your business, or they’re a repeat customer about to make a referral to a friend.

Every element of your strategy needs to be focused towards moving people along the hourglass, and this goes beyond just website, SEO, and content. Things like advertising, outreach, pay per click, and reviews all must work together to accomplish this task.

Fortunately, if you’re using these three major strategic elements as your guide, you’re able to structure the other tactics around those larger forces to create a marketing system that best serves the needs of your business and your customers.

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Asana! Asana is a work management tool to keep your entire team on track. The Duct Tape team relies on Asana to unify communication, assign and delegate tasks, and manage deliverables for everything from individual meetings to big client projects.

To help support the show, Asana is offering our listeners an exclusive deal. You can get a free, 30-day trial. Just go to asana.com/ducttape.

shareable and useful content

The Value of Discoverable, Shareable, and Useful Content

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Creating Useful Content

There’s no way around it, there are a lot of marketing channels today. I’m counting eighteen as of now (which can obviously change very quickly).

When I started my business we had six or seven ways to reach our prospects and customers. A lot has changed.

One of the things that I think is important to understand, first off, is that you don’t have to play in every channel. That’s one of the things that causes a lot of stress with a lot of business owners and marketers today.

What you do have to do is get very good at playing in the right channels, and additionally getting very good at integrating those channels (or at least understanding how they support each other).

That’s a challenge for a lot of people. We look at social media, content, SEO, and PR, and we think that they’re all separate tactics out there doing separate jobs.

When you look at them together, and actually intentionally think about how they can support each other, you amplify the effect, or the impact, of each.

In this post, we’re going to focus on three of these channels: content, social media, and SEO.

While those are separate channels, content is air for marketing today. It really powers every step in the customer journey and is one of the most essential marketing channels out there.

In fact, it probably is not really even fair to consider it a channel anymore, because it’s like the gasoline that goes in the car. You really have to have it no matter what kind of car you have.

I want you to think these channels, and make sure the content you produce in each is discoverable, shareable and ultimately useful.

Discoverability

Discoverability is often seen as an SEO play, and frankly, that’s what it is, but content drives SEO today. There are many search terms that are competitive, so everybody is out there competing for the search terms that they want.

People try to rank by doing effective keyword research, using targeted messaging, and knowing a lot about their users. It’s a good idea to develop a sense of intent as well in order to implement on-page SEO best practices.

While this all helps to make your content discoverable, you have to start with a content strategy that says “yes, we want people to find that, but that’s not where we want them to stop.”

Shareability

Once the content is discovered, the degree that it is shared will determine how widely it is distributed. By thinking about shareability of content, you’re multiplying the impact of search engine results because shares are going to draw links and other important SEO signals. They are going to increase your audience, which is going to draw more people. 

If we build our content with the idea that we can get a higher share rate, one of the benefits to that is that you actually don’t have to produce a ton of content.

If you produce content that is focused on:

  • How to do something
  • Why to do something
  • Lists
  • Great headlines
  • Great calls to action in the content
  • Using impactful images
  • Mobile usage

Then you can build your SEO-optimized content and make it much more shareable.

Shareable content is going to evolve your social media. This is one of the best ways to think about your content in the social media space. Making your content shareable will help expand the reach of people outside of your immediate network.  

Useful content

As I said in the beginning, I think the ultimate measure of success of any SEO plan is the degree to which people who discover and share your content, also find that content useful enough to quote, bookmark, link to, and consume deeply.

This idea of linking your content together to make it even more useful is an important part of trust building in the journey. If people have a problem, they go out and search for a problem, not for your solution.

They may not associate what you offer with their problem, but they’re trying to get a problem solved.

If they go to your website make sure you address their problem and give them an entire guide for how to solve it. Link together eight or ten pages, or at least associate all of your related content to a topic in a way that you’ve packaged it to make it easy to consume.

That’s the content that people not only love to share, but they love to link and bring other people to it as well.

It’s the kind of content that is going to make your SEO more effective, and make your content more discoverable because Google sees the signals that are being sent to that content.

It’s the kind of content that is ultimately going to lead people to buy your products and services, because you’ve addressed their problem, and made it easy for them to consume the content. You built trust signals, which is going to help you show up on page one of Google, which is huge. 

You’re giving somebody a reason to dig in on their own, and discover that what you sell is going to actually solve their problem.

That’s how you have to think about content.

There are a couple of metrics that I love to look at when I’m trying to analyze somebody’s content. I use tools, like Ahrefs, to see the number of keyword phrases driving traffic to page one.

I also like to use a tool called BuzzSumo. One of the things that it will do is dive into your content from a social media standpoint and will answer questions like:

  • How much sharing is going on?
  • What kind of content gets shared the most?
  • Who’s linking to it?
  • Who’s Tweeting it?
  • What is the length and format of the content?

It really breaks down all the sharing activity that goes on in your content.

I love to look at that kind of shared data because in many cases it will clearly point to your best content that’s being shared. Most of the time, that’s longer content that is more in depth, and that people find very useful. 

The value of your organic traffic is also a tremendous metric to really allow you to see how you’re stacking up.

Typically, what happens is your content becomes more discoverable because it was useful. It’s more shareable because it was useful. So it’s like this vicious, positive cycle that ends up making your traffic and visits worth so much more.

content creation

How to Create Effective Content Without Adding More to Your To-Do List

Content influences not only all aspects of our marketing but of our entire business as well.

Content is not something you can take lightly. It needs to be front and center of your strategy and it needs to be done well. The only issue is, it’s time-consuming.

For small business owners, finding the time to create high-quality content on a regular basis can seem impossible. With the ever-growing to-do list that so many business owners face, how can the content giant get taken care of without adding more to their plates?

The answer? Outsourcing.

Outsourcing your content creation efforts is far more common than you probably think, and in my opinion, it’s a necessary tactic if you want to do content marketing well. In today’s virtual world, the sky’s the limit for the talent that you can use to create the content for you.

Not only will it benefit your business, but it will likely save you money by giving you the time back needed to focus on other lucrative areas of your business.

Below are a few tips for outsourcing that will get you on your way to being a successful content creation machine.

1. Own your process and strategy

So here’s the thing. You can, and should, absolutely outsource the creation of your content, but you must still own your process and strategy (it is your business after all).

The only way to outsource effectively is to put systems in place that ensure successful collaboration between you and your outsourced team.

I’d recommend using a project management tool to manage deadlines and provide feedback efficiently. Things can get lost in email and has the potential to get messy. I use Asana, but there are a lot of tools out there that can help you get the job done.

Getting a routine going between you and your outsourced partners can also be extremely beneficial. For example, have blog posts due to you for review every Thursday and podcast show notes due every Wednesday. That way, you know what to expect and when to expect it, and the person creating the content will also know what they need to be doing and when without a lot of back and forth communication.

Develop an editorial calendar that lays out a strategy that your outsourced team can refer to. Planning ahead makes month-to-month operations easier for you, and lets your content creators know what’s to come.

2. Be picky

Anybody can really claim to be a writer, but claiming to be a writer and actually being one are two different things. When searching for somebody to outsource this work to, seek out references and testimonials, and ask them to write a blog post for a title you give them to see how they approach your topics and writing style.

There are numerous sites out there that you can use to find writers, including:

In the beginning, take the time to review the work for specifics, style, tone, and voice. Edit each post to make sure it still represents the brand well, and feel free to tweak a bit to add a personal touch. Provide your content creators with feedback from the beginning, otherwise, they’ll never be able to learn what you’re truly looking for. If they don’t apply the feedback to future posts, you should consider this a red flag.

If you find they are consistently living up to your expectations, bring them on board. The review process will take less time the more they get used to writing for you. In fact, you’ll hopefully get to the point where you don’t have to review their work at all.

It’s important that you do what you can to prevent bottlenecks. There may be times that your content isn’t 100% perfect but, don’t let an endless editing phase prevent you from getting your content out into the world.

Your audience cares more about receiving helpful information than they do about whether or not your author’s tone perfectly aligns with the brand.

3. Remove the guesswork

You must be clear about the instructions you give your writers in terms of tone, style, and formatting. Create a document that outlines these areas for each of your writing needs as well as any background information that is necessary for them to get the job done.

It can be easy to blame remote writers for creating less-than-ideal content, but if you haven’t taken the time to provide the information they need to get the job done, then the blame is on you.

4. Focus on results

When it comes to your content efforts, you must always be paying attention to the results you’re seeing. Even if the content appears to check all the boxes on your list, it doesn’t mean it will perform well once it’s published.

Keep an eye on the metrics to see what resonates with your audience and what does not.

Keep in mind that one piece of content shouldn’t dictate strategy moving forward. You need to look for trends to help you decide what to stick with and what to revise moving forward.

5. Take care of your team

Your outsourced team may be remote, but they’re still a part of your team now and should be treated as such. Don’t forget to give positive feedback when it’s deserved. People want to work for those that appreciate them. The more valued and appreciated they feel, the better the work they produce will be.

By outsourcing content, you are able to focus on areas business of your business that require your attention. If you feel inclined, you can still create one thorough piece of content on your own each week to help keep you on your toes and current with marketing trends, but that’s entirely up to you.

Outsourcing can be extremely valuable for your business, provided you do it the right way and pay special attention to the process.

Remember, although another person is doing the work, it’s your or your brand and reputation that stand behind it, so don’t take the process and development lightly.

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

content

Using Content As Your Voice of Strategy

I’ve said it once (or twice) and I’ll say it again: content is no longer king, it’s air. It not only touches all aspects of your marketing these days but of your business as well.

Your audience expects to find information about any product, service, or challenge they face simply by typing a keyword into Google. If you aren’t showing up, even if someone referred them to you, there’s a good chance they won’t decide to move forward with you because of a lack of trust.

In my opinion (and I’m not alone), the most important element when it comes to building a long-term, sustainable marketing system is content. But here’s the thing, it’s not enough to simply produce content for content’s sake. You must use content as your voice of strategy, and the best way to do this is to produce content that focuses on education and building trust – all based on your core business objectives and message.

In order to be effective with this, you must come up with a plan. Waking up in the morning and deciding what you are going to write about on your blog that day isn’t sustainable.

The Total Content System

I came up with this approach a while back and it essentially allows you to plan, delegate, curate, create, collaborate, repurpose and get more out of every piece of content you produce.

Create foundational content themes

Develop a list of core content topics and assign one to each month for the next 12 months. Each theme should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry and represent an important keyword search term. You can also designate terms that you know you would like to rank higher for, but currently, have little or no content that leads people online or off to you.

Bundle your topics into packages

I find it helpful to think about it like a book, where each month represents a chapter in what will ultimately make up an important body of work by the end of this year.

But the key is to develop multiple subtopics around each theme and then develop a core “guide” for each theme by linking the various subject together.

I recorded a podcast on this topic that may shed more light on it for you – Content Marketing for Small Business

Develop your content delivery platform

Once you have your themes, you can organize your Content Delivery Platform. Here are a few examples of content that I use and how I use them.

  • Blog posts – I write a weekly blog post that ultimately contributes to a monthly guide with other content of the same theme.
  • Podcast – I publish a podcast episode twice/week and aim to have at least one of them be a solo show that discusses and aspect of my theme for the month.
  • Webinars – Since we are creating all this rich, topic-specific content we host monthly online seminars to deliver the content in a new form.
  • Content package – The final step is to take all of this content from each month and create a package that allows people interested in the monthly topic to access the entire package in one tidy resource.

Integrate content with core business objectives

Once the first two steps are complete, you must map your content plan to your core business objectives. This step allows you to better understand how to get a return on your content investment and how much you should actually invest in creating a certain form or package of content.

One of the most important aspects of a Total Content System plan is that it changes the lens you use to view all the information that comes at you all day long.

When you know what your monthly themes are, all of a sudden tools, articles, and conversations take on new meaning and seem to somehow organize themselves for the benefit of your ongoing, long-term approach.

Now, in order for all of this to be truly effective, I want to reiterate that the content must build trust and must educate your audience.

What types of content build trust?

  • Blogs – A blog should be your starting point for your content strategy because it makes content production, syndication and sharing so easy. Plus, search engines love blog content which can help boost your SEO.
  • Social media – Building rich profiles, and optimizing links, images and videos that point back to your main site is an important part of the content as strategy plan.
  • Reviews – You’ll never have total control over this category, but ignore it and it may be one of the most damaging to your brand. Get proactive and monitor this channel aggressively.
  • Testimonials – This content adds important trust-building endorsements and makes for great brand building assets out there on Google and YouTube.

What types of content work best for educating your audience?

  • Podcasts – Podcasts are becomingly increasingly popular and serve as a fantastic way to engage and educate your audience in an easily digestible format.
  • Seminars – People want information packaged in ways that will help them get what they want. Presentations, workshop, and seminars are tremendous ways to provide education with increased engagement.
  • FAQs – There’s no denying the value of information packaged in this format, but go beyond the questions that routinely get asked and include those that should get asked but don’t.
  • Success stories – Building rich examples of actual clients succeeding through the use of your product or service offerings is a tremendous way to help people learn from other individuals and business just like them.

If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.

content creation

How to Use Content to Create Customers

I know this isn’t the first time you’ve been told that you need to develop content to be competitive in the marketing world today, but the fact of the matter is, it’s so important that it’s worth repeating over and over again. The use of high quality, education-based content has become an essential ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, and creating customers (hopefully leading to referrals and repeat business as well).

With that being said, content doesn’t need to be nearly as overwhelming as it once was. Gone are the days where you have to pump out content consistently in order to gain traction online. The name of the game today is quality, not quantity, and Google is getting really good at recognizing that.

I’ve developed a system for turning content into leads. Once the leads are in your hand, it’s up to you to close the deal and turn them into customers.

1. Decide what content you should create

For a while now, I’ve been promoting something I call the Total Content SystemTM, which is an approach that allows you to plan, delegate, curate, create, collaborate, repurpose and get far more out of every piece of content you produce.

Through your knowledge and by using keyword tools, you can develop a list of core content topics and assign one to each month for the next six months. Each theme should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry and represent an important keyword search term.

2. Invest time in content upgrades

Marketers today have tapped the insatiable hunger for useful, actionable, educational content and are employing highly targeted “content upgrades” to convert traffic to lead funnels.

Knowing that you’ll be creating less, but more valuable, content, be sure to marry this content with content upgrades. Since the reader is already engaged with your content, providing value with these upgrades will increase the odds of a conversion because they will already be a warm lead.

An important factor to the content upgrade is that it helps you segment visitor interest. People are very interested in how to do that one specific thing they searched for. If they land on your article, you have the ability to know what they are looking for and which content upgrade to provide when they need it.

One of the quickest ways to identify candidates for immediate content upgrade opportunities is to look through your analytics and find your most popular content and consider ways to personalize a content upgrade for those posts.

You can also use a tool like BuzzSumo to identify some of the most shared content online based on the keyword phrases related to your ideal client.

You don’t have to overthink the package for a content upgrade. In many cases what you’re looking to do is simplify information not make it more complex.

Providing these upgrades will increase your number of leads, and in turn, customers.

3. Ensure your audience sees your content

Keep in mind that no matter how good your content is, nobody will see it if you don’t promote it. You must ensure you promote it to relevant social channels, email lists, and so on to ensure it targeting the right people. Also, be sure to employ on-page SEO best practices within your content to help you get found by your audience organically.

Matching your content to the customer journey

To take your content creation even further, you must ensure that it is incorporated into every stage of the customer journey in order to solidify the close. I believe the customer journey consists of seven stages (what I refer to as the Marketing Hourglass): Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.

As a person moves through the customer journey, you must hit them with content throughout the process to keep them engaged with your business, and the best way to do this is to match the content you’d like to develop with the various phases of the Marketing Hourglass.

You must be aware of what your customer’s journey looks like in order to develop content for each stage of it. To help you do so, I’ve described the stages below to help you brainstorm what content would work best for you.

Know

The Know stage is the phase where people first become aware of your business, and it’s your job to put a piece of content out there that get’s their attention.

Like

At this stage, give your prospects reasons to keep wanting more and move towards gaining permission to continue the conversation.

Trust

I believe this is the most important step but arguably the most tedious and time-consuming. The more a person trusts you and your company, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you. Create content that helps build that trust.

Try

I think this the easiest phase to move people to the purchase. The content here needs to represent a sample of the end result. Demonstrate how much better your product or service is than the competition, to differentiate your business.

Buy

The focus here is to maintain a good experience for the prospect. In order to continue to deliver a remarkable customer experience, you’ve got to continue to educate through content.

Repeat

In the Repeat phase, you need to consider adding a results review process as well as additional upsell and cross-sell touchpoints.

Refer

Build processes and content campaigns that make it easy for your brand champions to refer your business.

Content marketing is here to stay. Put time and energy into creating quality content with associated content upgrades throughout each stage of the customer journey, and you’ll be sure to increase your number of customers moving forward.

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

customer journey

How to Develop Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey

For marketers, it’s nearly impossible to get through a day without hearing about or discussing content in one way or another. As the core of your strategy, you can not view content as a bunch of one-off projects. The creation of it needs to come out of one comprehensive strategy.

Because it is such an important piece of the marketing puzzle these days, it needs to be incorporated in every phase of the customer journey. While people often split this journey into three phases, Awareness, Consideration, and Content, I believe there is a bit more to it than that, which is why I’ve developed the Marketing Hourglass which consists of seven stages: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer. These phases will get a person from their first encounter with your business and then past your point of purchase where they not only turn into a customer but a loyal fan and advocate for your business.

As a person moves through the customer journey, you must hit them with content throughout the process to keep them engaged with your business, and the best way to do this is to match the content you’d like to develop with the various phases of the Marketing Hourglass.

Mapping the Customer Journey

When it comes to the customer journey, it’s important that you don’t get ahead of yourself. I often see small businesses trying to convince prospects that they can solve their problems before they even know they have one.

In order to map out your customer journey, you must understand who your audience is, and I mean really understand their wants, needs and pain points, as well as the types of questions they’d ask themselves before they even seek a solution like yours.

You must be aware of what your customer’s journey looks like in order to develop content for each stage of it. To help you do so, I’ve described the stages below as well as recommended content to go along with each stage to help you brainstorm what would work best for your business.

Know

The Know stage is the phase where people first become aware of your business, and it’s your job to put a piece of content out there that get’s their attention.

Types of content:

  • Blog posts answering common client challenges (to help boost SEO)
  • Advertising (consider paid search and paid social) promoting content upgrades to boost lead conversion
  • Presentations at speaking engagements
  • Social media

Like

Once you attract a person to your website, you enter the second stage of the Marketing Hourglass: Like. At this point, you need to give them reasons to keep wanting more and move towards gaining permission to continue the conversation.

Types of content:

  • eNewsletters for lead nurturing and to demonstrate expertise, knowledge, and resources over time
  • Blog content around specific topics
  • Social media
  • Webinars
  • White papers

Trust

I believe Trust is the most important step but arguably the most tedious and time-consuming. Building trust is a marathon, not a sprint. The more a person trusts you and your company, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you.

Types of content:

  • Reviews
  • Success stories
  • Client testimonials
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Custom presentations
  • How tos
  • Client readiness packets
  • Proposal documents
  • Customer-generated videos
  • Case studies

Try

If you’ve built trust to the point where people begin wondering how your solution might work for them, it’s time to enter the Try stage of the hourglass. Try is a phase that many people skip due to the desire to leap rather than lead, however, I think it’s the easiest phase to move people to the purchase.

Here, the content needs to represent a sample of the end result. By creating content in this phase that demonstrates how much better your product or service is than the competition, you can differentiate your business.

Types of content:

  • Ebooks
  • Online or offline seminars
  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • Audits
  • Evaluations
  • Video demos
  • FAQs

Buy

This is the step all businesses want, but you must look at it as just another stepping stone to growing your list of thrilled customers (who become brand advocates). For this stage, the focus is maintaining a good experience for the prospect. In order to continue to deliver a remarkable customer experience, you’ve got to continue to educate through content.

Types of content:

  • New customer kits
  • Quick start guides
  • Customer stories
  • User manuals

Repeat

To keep customers coming back time and time again, don’t wait for them to call you. You need to stay top of mind, and a great way to do this is to provide them with high-level content.

One of the best ways to get repeat business is to make sure your customers understand the value they receive by doing business with you. In the Repeat phase, you need to consider adding a results review process as well as additional upsell and cross sell touchpoints.

Types of content:

  • Start an auto responder series that provides education on additional solutions
  • Handwritten notes for no reason
  • Send press clippings systematically
  • Customer-only newsletters

Refer

The whole point of the Marketing Hourglass is to turn happy clients into referral clients. To do this, you must build processes and campaigns that make it easy for your brand champions to refer your business.

Types of content:

  • eBooks, videos, or gift certificates that your customers and strategic partners can co-brand and distribute
  • Feature your client stories in your marketing materials
  • Create a hot 100 prospect list and share it with clients for introductions

Keep in mind, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to content development. You can repurpose old content (i.e. turning educational videos into written blog posts) and you can even optimize and re-publish previous well-performing content to give it new life.

Creating content can be time-consuming, but by mapping it out along with certain themes and the customer journey, your life will become much easier.

What types of content do you find helpful in each stage of the journey?

If you liked this post, check out The Ultimate Marketing Engine – 5 Steps to Ridiculously Consistent Growth

old content

Getting More Uses Out of Existing Content

With content taking the marketing world by storm over the past few years, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the content you need to produce in order to stay ahead of your competition, not to mention coming up with new ideas of content that haven’t already been written.

I’ve got good news for you.

While I highly recommend continuing to create new content, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. There are a variety things you can do with the content you already have, and by revisiting this material, your business can actually receive numerous benefits.

Improve existing content

With the amount of new content being generated every day, it seems to become old content almost instantly (think of how quickly content comes and goes on Twitter). With content becoming “dated” rather quickly, it’s important that you have ways to extend your content’s shelf life.

Before I continue, I must say the recommendations below work best with certain types of content. You need to be selective about which content you want to keep alive. For example, if you have content that is no longer relevant to your audience, products, or services, there’s no point in updating it just to get found in search results.

There are two key components you should consider when finding the right content to re-optimize:

  1. Find posts with high traffic but low conversion and figure out how to increase leads on those posts
  2. Find posts with low traffic but high conversion and figure out how to get more visits to those posts

If the content falls under the criteria above, consider implementing the following:

Refresh links

When you are updating old page addresses, remember to redirect old URLs to new ones with 301 redirects. If you don’t, you risk losing the link value of the old page.

Update keywords and meta descriptions

Even if the keywords were stellar when the original piece of content launched, that doesn’t mean they’re still relevant and useful today. You need to conduct a new round of keyword research and update the content with new keywords (or keep keywords as they were if they truly are still relevant).

Add new and relevant information

Times may have changed since the content was originally published. Ensure stats are still relevant and that the content still makes sense.

Re-post and re-promote

If you have any content that is over a year old but still performs well, you may want to consider republishing it, almost as though it were new. This will help to bring new life to it and potentially expose it to a newer audience. Be sure to do this last bit after the other recommended updates above are complete, The majority of the content may still be good, but you still want it to be current. Re-promoting re-optimized content is just as important as the content itself. The updates are pointless if nobody sees them.

In addition to the recommendation above, be sure to update images and add CTAs when relevant and necessary. These updates may seem rather small, but the potential benefits you may receive from these small tweaks make it all well worth it.

A few years ago, HubSpot wrote a blog post titled, “The Blogging Tactic No One Is Talking About: Optimizing the Past” and it was a keeper. Essentially, the company tested updating and republishing old blog posts to see if they could get more leverage out of them. By simply re-optimizing old content, HubSpot was able to increase organic traffic by 106%. Yes, you read that right.

These types of results aren’t unique to HubSpot. Many businesses are taking this approach and are reaping the rewards.

Re-optimization works because Google rewards relevancy and freshness. New visits will come out of sharing content within your network, and those new promotions will lead to new inbound links, which will help to boost SEO.

Repurpose content

Optimizing old content may be an excellent way to bring new life to underperforming content, but there are a number of things you can be doing to reuse content that is already performing well by re-purposing it. By doing this, you’ll continue to gain value from existing content. Plus, this tactic will also save you a lot of time and money.

The more popular the original content is, the more likely the repurposed content will be popular as well. Essentially, high-quality content can create even more high-quality content.

Once you’ve identified this content, consider re-purposing it in one of the following ways:

  • Create new blog posts
  • Develop an infographic
  • Craft an email series
  • Develop content upgrades
  • Start a podcast
  • Film a video series (this doesn’t need to be fancy – Facebook Live would suffice)
  • Take bulleted blog posts and turn each bullet point into its own post
  • Create an e-book out of a compilation of related blog posts
  • Host a webinar
  • Give a live talk about a topic that was repurposed for the speaking engagement

For me personally, I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to repurpose content is to start with video and create new content by working backward from there. It’s amazing what you can come up with. Get creative and think outside the box. You may come up with something unique that nobody has thought of yet!

By following the recommendations above, you’ll be able to maximize your odds of getting discovered online, as well as optimizing your investment in these assets by giving them a solid chance at performing, rather than just hoping for the best during launch.

The moral of the story is to not let content just sit there when you can still receive a ton of value from it.

Have you started implementing any of the tactics above? What kinds of results are you seeing?

content ideas

How to Find Killer Content Ideas

Whether you’re a novice writer or a pro, at some point you’ll get writer’s block and will find it difficult to come up with potent, relevant content ideas for marketing. If you’re in a rut, or simply need new topics to align with your strategy, follow the tips below to help guide you to new ideas.

Keyword research

For people who like to just get going quickly on content, keyword research can seem like a drag or burden that can that holds them back. However, the exact opposite is true. Not only is keyword research not a burden, it is a necessity that can be used to drive your content strategy and get you to your end goal faster than if you skipped it.

Once you have your marketing strategy in place and a strong understanding of your target audience and the actions you want them to take with your business, it’s time to begin your keyword research. It’s during this phase that you can determine key foundational phrases to build your entire online presence around.

The power behind keyword research for SEO is that it gives you the ability to understand the exact phrases people use to search for the products, services, information, answers and solutions that lead to them becoming your customers.

When you’re aware of what those phrases are, you can address the topics through your content and blog posts. If you’re new to keyword research and are unsure how to go about it, check out one of my previous blog posts which will show you how I conduct keyword research for Duct Tape Marketing.

Editorial calendar

Once you’ve done your keyword research and have come up with a dozen or so themes, it’s time to map out an editorial calendar of your content. This will help to ensure you’re in line with strategy, you’re staying on track for productivity, and that you have a guide for whenever you get stuck.

Great keyword research informs your editorial calendar and that’s why you should never stop doing it.

5 ways to find awesome content ideas

1. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a search engine that ranks content, on really any topic, by how often an article is shared.

After I have my list of keyword phrases, I use BuzzSumo to see what types of content people are writing and sharing for my list of search terms.

With this tool, you can get very specific about the content you’re considering writing about in upcoming blog posts. Not to sound like your elementary school teacher, but it should go without saying that you shouldn’t use this tool with the intention of copying posts. Instead, reviews these posts and see how you can better them, make the ideas your own, and simply intersect your content based on the top results.

With BuzzSumo, you not only see how many shares a post has, but you also get to see which websites have linked to the content and who has shared it.

2. Keywordtool.io

This keyword tool helps you “find out what your audience is looking for” and helps you identify what people are typing into search engines.

The main reason I use Keywordtool.io is that it turns up actual questions people ask about specific terms. I think this is one of the best ways to find intent in a search phrase. This also helps me to start brainstorming about the specific content I want to produce. When you start thinking about what to write about next, answering questions you know people are asking is a great way to get into a blogging routine and attract your audience.

3, Google Search: Forum + Your Topic

I like using this tactic because you can find the hottest content threads in any forum.

Most industries have active bulletin boards and forums that people turn to when looking for information. People will often say exactly what they are looking for and what they are having a hard time finding. If you look at these forums enough, you’ll start to identify trends.

When I go into these forums, I type in “key term + forum” or “key term + board,’ and will typically find results related to the business or industry I’m searching for.

Side note: As most of you know, I’m a big fan of not only growing my own network but helping others grow there’s as well. These forums can be great for networking locations.

4. Quora

Quora Search

Quora

If you’ve never used Quora, go and check it out. It’s “a platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers.” You can type in any topic and will find content ideas that you’re looking for.

5. Your sent email

You’ve probably answered countless questions in your emails and don’t even realize it. Go through your email and search for questions your customers have asked, how they talk about their issues, what they like and don’t like, and so on. You’ll be amazed at how many topics you can come up with.

These are the tools I turn to when I need ideas to write about. What other tips or tools would you add to this list?

If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Content Marketing for Small Business.

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