Options to Fill Your 2013 Content Pipeline
While it’s ideal to have an editorial calendar that organizes a set of columns to be published on a regular basis, you can still have a dearth of ideas.
Like experienced writers and journalists you have your swipe file and list of columns you ought to write. But none of them are calling you. What do you do?
Here are seven standbys that help you create outstanding content in a flash.
- Answer customer questions. Ask Marcus Sheridan. He built his pool business by putting this type of post at the heart of his business blog. (Here’s fuller explanation of Marcus’ approach, called the Secret Sauce. The great part about this is that your prospects and customers always have questions about your product—you don’t need to sit around and think them up. Your prospects are asking your customer service and sales representatives questions all the time. All you need to do is collect them and organize your answers. Actionable Content Tips: Add a link to an email so that prospects can send you their questions. It’s a great way to keep your pipeline full.
- Teach prospects. Understand that most prospects do online research before they buy. Show them how to use your products. Create content that educates while spotlighting your product. Extend your content with videos and/or photographs to make it easier for viewers to understand. When learning how to do something, it’s often better to watch someone else do it whether it’s building a computer or putting on eyemakeup. Understand that the elements your audience has trouble with may seem very obvious to you. Take a cue from KhanAcademy for inspiration. Actionable Content Tips: Create a consistent look and feel for all of your training content so you can repackage it later.
- Style your stuff. Take your product presentation beyond the hero shot. Show your prospects how to style the product. This is particularly important for fashion related and home products. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Help them to envision themselves wearing or using your products. Put together a set of budget clothes or spotlight how to use the latest belt. Target does a great job of this on their Tumblr that’s curated by top designers. Actionable Content Tips: Get your customers involved. Ask them to submit their styling photographs as well as their questions.
- Provide resources. Resource lists take work but they’re definitely worth the investment. Everyone loves resource lists. Collect information related to your product offering. For example, I created 101 Social Media Resources. Actionable Content Tips: It’s a good idea to create a long list of information. It gives the impression that it’s comprehensive and complete.
- Curate other people’s content. (Here’s an explanation of how to curate content.) This is a great way to provide useful information while positioning yourself as a tastemaker in your field. You can curate content on a regular basis using products such as Paper.li or Scoop.it, or you can have a regular column in your blog where you share a roundup of the best reading in your field. Actionable Content Tips: To maximize your reach, include the author’s name in your blurb so they help you with the promotion. Let the authors know that you’ve included them in the list.
- Interview experts, authors, customers and others. This is a great way to leverage the power of influencers in your area. Everyone loves to be the star of the day. Spotlight the person with an image and a link. You can do the interview in person, via email, chat or by phone. You can just use the excerpts or you can include a full transcript. Don’t underestimate the value of interviewing customers. Actionable Content Tips: Incorporate a photograph and/or video to increase the content’s appeal.
- Review books and products. Give your opinion—both the good and bad about the product. While it’s bad form to give away the plot line, try to share information that’s useful on its own so that readers don’t need to own the product. This works well if you’re a third party media or blogging entity. Actionable Content Tips: Let readers know if you’re receiving revenues from affiliates.
The one element these seven writing inspirations have is that they all look outside of the writer to get ideas. Often, if your writing is stuck, chances are that it just needs a push in a fresh direction.
What do you do when you’re in a writing or content creation rut? Where do you go for inspiration?
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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kubina/1497679352/