There’s a solid reason why content dominates the current realm of marketing. It’s the best way for businesses to share their knowledge and set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. It allows them to communicate with target demographics on unbiased grounds – and it enables relationships and alliances to benefit both parties involved.
Content marketing also allows businesses to evolve as brands, and retell their story as they grow. It can ultimately bridge the gap between businesses and customers, and sets the stage for better communication all round.
That said, creating content to accomplish all of the above can be challenging, and doing so on a consistent basis can be even more difficult. This post outlines six ways that you can efficiently build content marketing resources, so that you never run out of ideas.
1. Analyze your competition
The smartest way to research content marketing strategies is by looking at your competition.
- What is the main source of their traffic?
- Which keywords are working for them?
- What content themes do they like to use?
- Who do they partner with, and why?
- Which social media platforms and posts do they get most traction on?
You don’t have to restrict yourself to analyzing your immediate competition. Check out non-competing businesses and publications in your industry, too. Often, their presence may be very similar to what you’re trying to create online.
For instance, CoffeeLands and TheCoffeeVine are both blogs focussed on coffee, so they compete on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) even though they don’t strictly compete as businesses.
When analyzing competition, you can use web tools to get the job done quicker and more thoroughly.
- Ahrefs can identify backlinks to your competition’s domain, and thus their sources of traffic.
- BuzzSumo can give you insights on the top posts for a keyword, and how many shares/backlinks you need to beat it.
- For quick keyword research, GrowthBot (a Slack integration bot) is a good option.
- You could also try the Skyscraper strategy to create traffic-generating content.
2. Create go-to guidelines and templates
After you know what’s out there, the next step is to prepare to match or exceed it with your content marketing. You could create a standard framework of guidelines to follow for consistency across the board.
Here are the three main types of guidelines that you need to streamline your content marketing.
- Your brand’s content directive – i.e., the goals you wish to achieve via content marketing, the platforms and channels you intend to use, and your approach.
- Your brand’s style guide – i.e., the personality, colors, and design you want to associate your brand with via these channels.
- Buyer personas – i.e., the buyer characteristics of the target demographic your brand wants to reach out to via those platforms.
HubSpot has templates for buyer personas that you can use as a reference point to create yours.
Establishing guidelines is guaranteed to help you be more consistent and precise in your content marketing.
Old Spice has a definite direction to their content on Twitter. It’s focussed on their target audience (men) and consistently demonstrates a dry, sarcastic humor.
Once you have created guidelines, you can use them to build templates to make your ideas easier to implement. There are two main types of templates that you can build to assist your content marketing.
- Content calendar: A plan of what you will post on each day of the week created in advance.
- Content buckets: A laundry list of content ideas to return to if and when needed. You can make design templates for infographics, slides, and posters in advance, so they can be finished and published when needed.
3. Set up idea funnels using web tools
For actual content ideas, you can use social media and web tools that search and save specific content for you to review in one interface. There are several types of web tools that can do this for you. The following have the best functionalities:
- Keyword-based content suggestion tools. I like to use DrumUp for this purpose because it provides fresh content suggestions daily, and lets you store them in in-app libraries. With the @mention and #tag recommendations that come with the suggested posts, the tool also doubles up as a great influencer/blogger outreach solution.
- Social media monitoring tools. If you want content ideas from influencers, you can follow their Twitter handles on a tool like Mention, and use their content for inspiration.
- Industry newsletters. Let’s suppose you’re a social media marketer who wants to follow the latest news from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. To do so, you should subscribe to the newsletters of reliable publications in your industry. You could even create a separate email address to curate that content.
There are several other outlets for content inspiration. Add them to your RSS feed readers, follow them or subscribe to them, and keep them all in one place for easy access.
4. Bookmark and save back-up resources
Neetzan Zimmerman is considered a genius at creating viral content. One of his secrets is using over 1,000 different websites to inspire his ideas. The websites he picks aren’t mainstream, they are niche websites that most people will never have heard of, like Tastefully Offensive and Daily Picks & Flicks.
If you want fresh material, you need an unexposed idea fodder.
- Spend a few hours hunting for niche websites in your field. Bookmark them or save them in easily accessible folders.
- Don’t discard impromptu ideas. Save them to notes on your smartphone or laptop so you can look back at them when you need inspiration.
- Take screenshots of what other businesses or influencers are doing online when something catches your attention. Store them in individually labeled folders.
- Pocket the best basic, intermediate and advanced guides to content creation and marketing, so you can refer back to them or share them with new recruits or team members.
- Download iTunes and Stitcher apps. Search for keywords in your industry and use the resulting podcasts as inspiration for blog posts or your own podcast.
There are endless ways to create resources for your content marketing. Ensure that you use folders and organize the ideas that you generate!
5. Commit to a rejuvenation schedule
These resources can last you for months if you are careful when creating them, but it’s best to revisit and renew them every couple of weeks.
The internet is a fast-paced place. Every second, millions of new websites, posts and ideas are brought to life, and they could hold the key to your next big piece of content.
Commit to a four-week or quarterly rejuvenation schedule and bring your content resources up-to-date to stay relevant.
The biggest ideas come from the resources in your own mind. Warren Buffet and Elon Musk are both avid readers, who spend hours each day reading. If you can’t set aside that kind of time to acquiring idea fodder, you can always build resources as discussed in this post, and use them to fuel your content marketing efforts.