Ever see a creative marketing campaign that you wish you’d thought of? Do you wonder how other people come up with interesting angles on their content?
This used to be the sort of thing that only creatives at advertising agencies had to do. Now, if you can tell a good story, you can grow your business. Telling great stories is a skill you need in today’s business world, whether you want to get seen on social media, make sales from public speaking events, or simply avoid that painful, awkward silence after you share your elevator pitch with someone.
The tricky little question is, how do you come up with engaging stories that will make your business stand out?
Here are 8 strategies I teach that will spark ideas, and help you find the storeis to tell in your business. I encourage you to jot down your ideas as you go through this list. If you find it helpful, you can use it as a framework for coming up with more ideas in the future.
1. Be an amazing resource
The first thing we always teach is, create content that makes you an amazing resource for your customers. What sort of content could you create that would make your ideal client excited to find your website and share it with others? How can you create that level of value with your content?
For example, maybe you can answer all their questions about a particular topic. Or perhaps you can create checklists, plans or useful videos they can use in their lives. What would make your website the best place to inform, inspire or entertain your readers?
Remember, if you build up a great resource on your website, it’s much easier to spread that value across all your social media platforms.
2. Make an emotional connection
Making an emotional connection can elevate your content from average to exceptional. These days, there is a lot of content online. People only have time to care about the most Engaging, Entertaining, Educational, Empowering and Exciting content. (That’s Jonathan’s 5E Formula!)
Connecting emotionally with readers requires being “real” in your content. This is why we often hear the advice, “write what you are passionate about.”
Here are some ways to create a more emotional connection with your blog and content:
- Share moments from your personal life or story. In the days of social media and reality TV, we are primed to want to know more about your personal story. Even if you don’t want to get too personal, try sharing a “behind the scenes” look at your business.
- Figure out what your brand’s values are and take a stand on something bigger than your business.
- Think about the parts of your business you are most proud of, or most excited about.
- Write what you care about — especially when it lines up with what your customers care about as well.
Create heartfelt content around issues that your readers care about, and you’ll find likes, shares and engagement skyrocket.
An example of a company that has connected emotionally with the customers they want to attract is Always. Despite selling a product that most people don’t want to hear about, Always has found an amazing story to tell. They’ve built an entire campaign around developing self esteem in young women, all connected with the hashtag, #LikeAGirl.
Check out this video from Always, to see the story they tell. It relates closely to their product, but it isn’t directly about the product. Instead, it’s about the issues their consumers care about — considering that their consumers are predominantly women and mothers.
3. Stand out from the crowd
Everybody does business differently — consider sharing what makes your business different. Perhaps you’ve made customer service your top priority — tell us how that looks. Or maybe you provide unique employee benefits. Break it down for us. Bring great ideas to your readers and entice them to want more from you.
If you’re not sure how to start, do a little inventory on your business.
Some questions to ask yourself (and your staff) are:
- What are you doing to grow your business every day?
- Do you over-deliver, or do anything extra special?
- How does your approach compare to others in your market — and why have you chosen this approach?
- What products or services have you developed in response to your customers’ needs? There’s always a great story when a business evolves to meet their customers’ needs.
There are plenty of stories hidden in your everyday business: your values, operations and interactions are unique to your company. Pay attention to them and be sure to share them.
4. Do a content inventory
Maybe you’ve got brochures, sales presentations, a speech, some Facebook Live videos — do an inventory of all the pieces you’ve already created and see which ones would make great content for your blog and social media.
We’ve worked with several clients who have folders and folders of information to show potential clients. We helped them leverage all that sales materials — we dug it up and found ways to turn it into online content.
5. Dig into your sales process
One of the most effective ways to use content is to create pieces that help clients get what they need in different phases of your Sales Process. (For the client, this is their “Buyer’s Journey.”)
What sort of information can you create that would introduce your solution if someone has never heard of it? What additional information would they need to see how your business stands out from the competition, or determine whether they want to work with you? You can provide a lot of that material as content on your blog and website.
One way we do this effectively for our clients is by creating info-sheets and downloadable guides on their websites. Those sales pieces bring real leads in the door on an ongoing basis.
6. Research other brands in your industry (or in your town, if you’re a local business)
Have you read great stories you wish you had thought of first? Start keeping track of those stories when you see them and you’ll find that you start coming up with ideas, too.
When I teach content marketing, I ask students to track at least 5 – 10 businesses who are telling good stories, or creating engaging content, in their industry or local area.
You can learn a lot from watching what others are doing. See how they share similar content across different platforms. Track down all the places they are showing up — both online and offline. Sign up for their email lists and freebies, read their blogs and listen to their podcasts. Then, figure out how you want your business to show up.
7. Ask your clients (or potential clients)
There are so many things we can learn from asking. What type of questions do your existing clients have? What are people struggling with that you can help them with? What are people passionate about? Start asking questions, and keep track of the answers you get. These are topics you can handle with blog posts or other content — as well as valuable insights into the questions and feelings of your potential customers.
8. Do some keyword research
I don’t advocate making your content all about keywords, just to attract search engine results. It’s far more important to provide great content for real people to read. However, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can drive a lot of potential customers to your website. It’s a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox, so it’s important to include it in your strategy.
Your blog posts should include topics that drive people to your website. Consider what questions your customers would be typing into Google, when they need the type of help you can provide. Make a list of these questions and be sure to answer them on your website. You can use tools including Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Google Trends, BuzzSumo.com and LongTailPro (paid products with free trial versions) to expand your list.
Try things out and make adjustments
The most important thing about any content you put out is to pay attention to the reaction it gets from readers. Share your work as widely as possible on social media and see which pieces resonate with readers.
Instead of thinking of your content as a finished piece, try to think of it as the beginning of a conversation. Pay attention to the responses you get when you publish new content — this will help you come up with more ideas as you go.
Start using these 8 content strategies today — great content will give you a solid foundation for your social media campaigns and online marketing.
Want help with your content? WeMakeStuffHappen is holding a Content Masterclass on 3 Keys to Creating and Leveraging Content to Grow Your Business: How You Can Use Your Story to Connect, Engage and SELL! on Wednesday March 28th.
In this fantastic FREE Masterclass you will learn the 3 keys to telling your business story online PLUS GET THIS AMAZING BONUS when you register here for the masterclass: our Content System Template. This template will show you how all of your online content works together in one simple, complete system AND highlight the 7 best parts to delegate to your team or virtual assistant.
Now it’s your turn!
I always love a great discussion about content and how blogging ties into your overall online marketing. Comment below with your biggest question about content marketing — or share a great tip for other readers! I’ll be checking back to reply.
Latest posts by Lindsay Carlson (see all)
- 8 Ways to Find Great Stories to Tell in Your Business - March 19, 2018
- Complying with the New Anti-Spam Laws - June 19, 2014
- Wonder about Using Instagram in Your Business? - June 13, 2014