Once you've got your salespeople to come around to the idea of inbound marketing, what do you do with their content ideas? If your salespeople followed the "notepad method" of content creation, then after a couple of weeks they should have plenty of ideas just waiting to be turned into killer content. Check out this recent interview where I discuss this idea in detail.
But pages of questions, comments, and unconnected ideas aren't going to cut it in the content-centric world of inbound marketing. You've got to tie all of those great ideas into a cohesive whole.
One of the best ways to put all of your content ideas into use is by turning them into blog posts. Blog posts are awesome because they:
- don't have to be terribly long
- tend to be written informally
- allow you to offer up concentrating chunks of information
- and the comments section gives you an avenue for interacting with prospects.
As great as blog posts are, writing a post can be challenging. There is no single "right" way to take an idea for a blog post and turn it into a finished product, but there are a couple of suggestions I can offer if you're having trouble.
1. Stay focused
You might have a hundred great ideas for blog posts, but I guarantee they aren't going to work if you try to shove them all into one post. Stick to one central idea and follow it through to conclusion. There's nothing wrong with a personal anecdote or digression here and there as long as they bolster your main idea, but try and keep it to a minimum. If your post is a series of unconnected personal stories, then your readers are going to lose sight of your point. One way to make sure all of your paragraphs and ideas work together is to outline your post. For example:
Introduction and Main idea: Pens are better than pencils.
Supporting detail 1: Pencil lead smears, but ink doesn't smear after you let it dry.
Supporting detail 2: You don't need to sharpen pens.
Personal Story: Short paragraph about that time I couldn't write down a number because I had a broken pencil.
You don't have to write out an outline, but keeping a format in mind while writing can help keep you focused and on topic.
2. Let SEO Be Your Guide
If you find yourself casting around for something to write about, or you're drowning in too many ideas and don't know which to focus on, choosing one or two high ranking keywords to use as a guide is a great way to gain focus. Do the leg work and research the keywords that have clout in your industry, the keywords you rank for, and the keywords that you want to rank for. Once you know the keywords that you want to go after, dig into your pile of ideas and create posts around those keywords. Creating blog posts around keywords is a great way to work on your SEO and get content out there.
3. Stay Calm
You aren't writing an academic paper, you're writing a blog post; you don't need to overawe your readers with four syllable words and a formal tone. Write in the same tone that you would speak in as if you were talking to a prospect. If you're having trouble getting into the right frame of mind imagine that you're having a conversation with a prospect. What questions would lead into the point you want to make? What would the normal progression of ideas be if you were having a conversation? If it makes sense, you can set up your post in a question and answer format. If the best way to explain your point is with a numbered list, then format your post so that your points are in a numbered list. Write your post in whatever way is the most natural and clear.
The best suggestion I can give is simply to write. You don't have to have a perfect post the first time through, but you do need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). If you find yourself putting off writing your next blog post, then I recommend scheduling yourself time to write. Block off a half an hour or an hour just like you would for a meeting, and don't let yourself do anything else until you have your first draft down on paper. You can always edit later, but the most important thing is to get your ideas out.
Salespeople are excellent sources of content for blog posts and they can then use them to build credibility with prospects as they progress through the buying process. Salespeople that are also blog authors build a reputation as thought leaders and establish themselves as helpful resources and not just order takers.
About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.