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Customer Questions Holy Grail of Content Marketing

ImageA few weeks ago I was lucky enough to speak on a panel at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. It was a great event that I felt really had showcased the maturing nature of this thing we call social marketing. Not only were the caliber of speakers and those attending high, but also the takeaways were truly substantive. One hot topic at #SMMW14 was content marketing. 

The conference closed out with another great keynote by Marcus Sheridan, who always inspires and makes online marketers and content creators think. If you haven’t seen Marcus live, it’s a blast and always educational.

One point Sheridan made as part of his keynote was one that particularly hits home for those of us leveraging social and content marketing in the B2B space – and heck, even in the B2C space: use your customers questions to build your content.

Marcus used his own personal story and the power of search as the backdrop. But it was this focus on answering questions, which was a truly powerful and transformational point for many in the room and for me. 

Being in a space where we are about marketing to other businesses, the creation and execution of a content strategy that moves the needles isn’t as easy as it seems. I found, during my many years as a consumer social and content marketer, it was much easier to identify key pieces of content for a general mass audience than it was for a more niche audience.  Yet, those niche audiences are closer to you. How do you leverage that?

Marcus nailed it: answer their questions.

Sure, you’re going to impact search significantly by doing that, but more over you’re going to build a never-ending stream of content that you and your team can use all year long. This is where content and brand marketers need to forge close and important relationships with their sales and services teams. They are the continuous pipeline to questions and inquiries from your customers and prospects. That’s gold in the content marketing world.

The impact of this is crucial and has two important outcomes:

  1. Search: As Marcus shared his own stories about his pool business, he searched Google to see who was answering certain like “how much does a fiberglass pool cost?” He found no one was. Just like him, you too can find out what questions are being asked – and unanswered – in your business and then use it to create content that actually answers their question. Imagine that.
  2. Content Planning & Stream: How many times in your career have you asked yourself: what are we going to write about next? Or what is the subject of our next podcast or Google Hangout? When you actually listen to your customers and their questions, and then use them to create great content, you provide them great value (for free!) and you fill up that editorial calendar fast. This helps your customers and your staff. What a win-win.

Everyone now does “content.” Big brands, small brands, consumer, B2B – we all are publishers. To stay ahead of the curve, to provide utility and value to your customers outside of the sale or your products, you have to answer their questions. This type of content moves the needle in more ways than one and helps solidify a well planned and executed online and social media content strategy.

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