How To Generate Endless Content Ideas No Matter How Boring The Industry

So, you’ve started a career as a marketing manager or digital marketer for a medium to large organisation or maybe you work for a digital agency helping clients succeed online? You might even be the owner of a small business but the reason we’re all here reading this post is because we all know that content is the foundation of online success.

Whenever we read about content marketing online, why is it always the really easy examples that people use. Travel, fitness, lifestyle, fashion…

If your task is to create content for those industries you are not reading this right now.

THESE are the types of industries you have been tasked to create “great content” for:

construction industry content

Please someone correct me if I’m way off the mark here, but it seems most of the posts around content idea generation for difficult industries take a bit of an overview and offer “tips” while skirting around how you actually go about generating ideas and doing this to yield results.

With that in mind, I’m going to try to get down in the trenches with this post with the aim that after reading it, you will walk away much more confident and brimming with ideas!

It All Starts With A Persona

Whatever you do, don’t just dive in and try to create content without knowing who your target audience is. Stakes are high you will flop! You need to speak to the sales and customer service staff, the business owner, the customers (a survey is often enough) and build up a picture of:

  • Who the person is – because no matter what you sell and even in B2B, it’s only ever a single person who converts into a customer
  • Where they are
  • How old they are
  • Their gender
  • What they read both generally and when they are in-market
  • Who they pay attention to and who influences them both generally and when they are in-market
  • Their problems, worries and concerns
  • Their goals and objectives both now and for the future
  • Their interests
  • Why they might be interested in your products or services
  • What might stop them from making an enquiry or purchase
  • What objections they may have
  • How long they take to convert (you wouldn’t research the hell out of a pair of socks you needed to buy but you would spend a lot of time researching your next high end camera)
  • Are they calm or frustrated, happy or sad, impulsive or methodical

Further reading about persona creation:

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/Everything-Marketers-Need-to-Research-Create-Detailed-Buyer-Personas-Template.aspx

http://conversionxl.com/creating-customer-personas-using-data-driven-research/

Now you know exactly WHO you are creating content for along with the type of person they are, their behaviour, their interests, fears, goals, questions etc etc. Now you know this, it is time to plan your content strategy and NOT before!

 Understanding Why You Are Creating Content So The “How” Makes More Sense

Just to be clear we are mainly talking about upper funnel content which will mainly be posted on your blog and across your social media platforms. This means the content should NOT be all about your products and services (there is a place for that and this isn’t it) and let me explain why.

You want more business.

To get more business you need more traffic to your website.

If you need more traffic you need to create more content.

This is the point where I hear the cries of “we just need to rank for buyer keywords as that’s what generates conversions” because “people aren’t interested in us unless they are looking for what we sell”.

Well guess what a main factor in ranking for your buyer keywords is? Content!

That’s one objective in creating it, in that it enables you (as part of a wider SEO strategy) to rank for your target keywords. So if you don’t want to believe that in your industry, you can actually engage your target market with content then believe that it is a way to help you to rank for your target keywords.

Traditionally and before the days of the internet, businesses have always advertised in newspapers and magazines and on TV. The media company owned the audience and you, the advertiser, paid to have an ad shown to the audience to generate sales.

If the target market was reading the publication you chose – and they were because you were willing to pay to advertise to them – then they are interested in the content that was being produced.

“Digital marketing today means that YOU become the publisher AND the advertiser.”

You create the right type of good content and if you do this well, you will grow an audience of your target market. You are now the media company but because you are also the advertiser, instead of people paying you to advertise to your audience, you advertise to your own audience and increase your revenue.

The main goal of upper funnel content is awareness. Become the publisher and attract an audience that are interested in your content but who are also prospects for your products and services.

By landing on your site and engaging with your content, they become more familiar with your brand and your products and services (awareness) that they previously didn’t know existed.

Capture these people on remarketing lists, email lists and even social and you can start to THEN show them more targeted content relating to your products and services with the goal of extracting the prospects for conversion.

So back to the issue of people won’t be interested in our content… well yes they will if you are producing the right type of content. This is awareness, upper funnel content remember that we are using to pull people in and generate awareness, links, SEO value etc.

You need content to reach and grow a target market that is not aware of your company or your products and services so you can later advertise to them. That means NOT boring them to death pumping out loads of content around a very tight vertical that very closely relates to your products and services. You need to go wide and talk to their interests.. but remember to keep it relevant.

“Create lots of content about the INTERESTS of your target market but in a way that relates to your products and services”

e.g:

  • An invoice factoring blog – NO
  • A business finance blog – hmm maybe
  • A small business blog – YES

Let’s look at a couple examples that also include social media followings and be sure to check out the bank which featured in a post about Aussie Brands and content marketing on the Reef Blog a few weeks ago.

Bissell is a company that make vacuum cleaners but just look at their Facebook page!

example of boring industry with social audience

Do they bore people to death with content about vacuum cleaners? No, instead they create content that appeals to pet owners and is very animal focused. Although dogs and cats are not directly related to the products, the market segment who they are successfully attracting and growing an audience of is pet owners.

Pet owners will likely require a powerful hoover more than most and although probably 99% of the time they won’t be interested in hoover related content, 99% of the time they will be interested in pet focused content.

Talk to the interests of your target market but in a way that relates to your products and services.

So they have grown an audience of the target market segment – pet owners – which means they can now advertise to this market and include product related content in the mix:

boring industry content promotion

Let’s take another example that’s a bit more blog content focused.

Allstate offer insurance for vehicles, home and life, but their content talks to the interests of home owners, families and the more passionate vehicle enthusiasts – all target market segments that at some point will be in-market for insurance.

They are growing an audience of these segments using good content that appeals to their interests so they can then promote insurance to this audience. If they just spoke about insurance or their content was very serious and too closely related to insurance this wouldn’t work.

insurance industry content

 

Making sense so far? Needed to cover this first to make sure you were of the right mindset when looking at creating content for boring industries. This will make it much easier for when you go away and tackle the “how” which we’ll talk about next.

How To Create Content For Boring Industries

Hopefully you’ve gained a lot more ideas thus far but I understand that some industries are even more challenging than the above so let’s look at a few ways to actually come up with ideas for content, regardless of the industry or products and close with an example of a company who have successfully made good content for one of the most challenging industries.

So here are some ways to come up with content – creativity required!

Questions, Problems & Idea Generation

Any target market will always have questions and problems that they will want help with. Your job, if you want to come up with good content even for boring industries, is to find out what they are and start answering them. To do that you need to listen.

Where do you listen?

  • Forums – search google for things like: inurl:forum industry or keyword to help find them. Look at popular threads with lots of views and activity as this topic has obviously hit a nerve so go in and look at what people are asking and talking about and think about how you could create content to address this
  • Social media – search Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook – wherever the target market may be and listen to the conversations with your ears firmly open for topic ideas
  • Google Suggest scrapes – when you start typing in Google it tries to pre-populate what it thinks you are going to type but you can scrape this database and a couple free sites are http://answerthepublic.com and http://ubersuggest.org
  • Q & A sites – such as Quora that you might want to take a look at
  • Customer services and sales – they often have a wealth of information to share and a 5 minute conversation can yield lots of ideas for content
  • Reddit – there is literally a sub reddit for almost every topic and people asking and sharing all sorts of things that can stimulate ideas for even the most challenging topics. Well worth checking out and if you post a question, often the responses can be woven into a great piece of content.

Talk To The “End Result”

What is the end result for the customer when they use your products and services? What are you helping them to achieve? Your brand should be aligned with the end result so an easy target for content creation no matter how difficult the industry is to write about.

So let’s think about an accountant’s business. The end result could be business growth, increased efficiency, prevention of loss and more time. So we could come up with lots of content ideas that talk about these topics and help people achieve these things and this aligns with the product and brand.

Location Based

This kind of crosses over with the other ideas but often, thinking local can help generate lots of new ideas for content. Let’s say you’re a residential builder and only operate in Sydney. Create content that focuses on different suburbs and come up with topics relating to renovation. extending, building, homes etc but relevant to a particular suburb. Maybe a certain type of property or job is popular in a particular suburb… there’s a starting point.

Industry Reports

This isn’t as hard as it sounds but makes for great content. You can run a survey to a target audience at places like Google Consumer Surveys or SurveyMonkey but make the questions relevant to the industry you need to write for then package the results up into a report.

Be sure to ask for things like age and gender so you can slice and dice the data into more insightful content.

e.g. men over the age of 25 were twice as likely to do “x” than women of the same age but interestingly, women over 55 were just as likely to do “x” as men of the same age group. This could be because…   you get the idea.

Topic Bridging

You will need to topic bridge. Focus on connections.

Step 1: is choose a topic. This could be a product, service, category, industry etc.

Step 2: is choose a connecting topic to write about. This could be person, place, activity, period, news, “thing” etc

Let’s say you sell forklift trucks but we don’t want to talk about forklift trucks all the time, so thinking of the industries and the person who would buy a forklift truck likely to be a manager, an example source topic could be “warehouse” and and example connecting topic could be “staff”.

The manager is likely to be interested in management and industry specific topics, providing they are interesting and engaging, but probably not interested in reading about forklift trucks. We have taken the person who is likely to buy a forklift truck and taken his industry and connected it to a relevant topic.

You could write a ton of content about warehouse staff from a managers perspective, even injecting some humour and audience participation – e.g. 13 Secrets Of Amazon Warehouse Employees

Finally let’s finish with an example of skip hire company TopSkips who have created a microsite: http://skiphiremagazine.co.uk/ which clearly talks to their B2B target market:

skip hire good content example

 

Nobody wants to read about skips but they do want to read about all the things relating to their industry presented in an engaging manner along with some entertainment mixed in. They have successfully become a publisher and grown an audience of a target market segment through good content. This will benefit the brand and more people will come to them directly to hire a skip, but they can also now advertise to this audience.

Sure you might not get an audience the size of an adventure travel company or the same number of social shares as a pet website but with the right content you will grow an audience that you can advertise to and reap the brand and SEO benefits in the process:

boring industry social following

 

Hopefully you’ve found this useful and can go away with a lot more ideas and inspiration for marketing and content creation for the less glamorous industries! As always feel free to share ideas in the comments.

Share your opinion

3 Responses

  1. Andrew Dennis says:

    Great post Scott! Very thorough and comprehensive, should come in handy anytime that dreaded writer’s block rears its ugly head.

    Thanks for creating this excellent resource!

    • Scott Pittman says:

      Thanks Andrew for the kind words and thanks for taking the time to leave feedback. Glad you found it useful!

  2. Thanks Scott, and agree that step 1 has to be “seeking to understand, then be understood” from a target audience perspective.

    As a complement to your post, a supplementary cheat sheet for inspiring content creation questions a la ProBlogger: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140527041405-3161863-56-ideas-for-blog-posts-for-your-business-blog

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