Writer’s block is no joke. Even the best content managers and editors can come up dry after a while. Add in the pressure of client demands and the ever-changing search engine optimization efforts, and it’s easy to understand.
But the need for fresh, engaging, and effective copy doesn’t stop. In fact, content marketing is easily one of the most in-demand components of successful organizations’ growth strategies. Instead of shaking your head in disbelief that another editorial calendar is due, consider implementing new approaches to developing topics. Using a fresh strategy, you may be surprised at the angles you unearth, potentially renewing your energy and enthusiasm for the task.
1. Batch Content Needs
The overwhelmed feeling that sets in when looking at an empty content calendar can be paralyzing. To tackle the beast, consider using content clusters to wrangle your thoughts. Content clusters identify a core topic that feeds into more narrow topics, which maintain a common thread that links them together. In application, this process is ripe for a whiteboard, which provides a visual manifestation of the various components and the links between them.
For example, if your team is tasked with tackling mental health services content, you’d place that in the center. Next, you’d build out narrow topics like therapy, medication, self-care, exercise, and meditation. These clusters focus on the detail level, eventually feeding the reader back to the parent topic of mental health services. Leverage SEO keywords in alignment with your content strategy, and you’ll create useful and strategic content that engages your audience.
2. Review Social Channels and Comments for Inspiration
One of the best and worst things about social media is that most users engage without a filter. Comments, reviews, and direct messages are ripe with inspiring — and maybe even shocking — content ideas. Customer pain points and perceptions are enough to drive action in your organization’s daily content efforts. But using this convenient sample of qualitative feedback can offer a double-whammy benefit.
At the onset, these feedback portals give you an indication of unmet needs. Whether it’s dissatisfaction with a product, misunderstanding of a process, or a request for a solution, such comments offer grist for the content mill.
Identify customer issues in full and review your ability and authority to answer them through dynamic content. If some topics are too risky, shift them to your product or legal team to bring their expertise to bear.
3. Interview Your Customer-Facing Team for Hot-Button Issues
Just as social media can be a window into customer realities, so can a conversation with your front-line employees. Call center representatives and account executives face the brunt of customer feedback. These daily interactions may get monotonous to them, but their insight can be invaluable when filling out an editorial calendar.
Use their insights to inspire curiosity among your content team. Weave real-life pain points into potential topics, ranking them in alignment with what you know is on the horizon for the company.
For example, if your team is releasing an enhancement soon, elevate content in support of that effort to the top. If a new product feature satisfies a persistent customer demand, be sure to tell the world. When release day arrives, your fresh, relatable content will be in high demand, potentially driving engagement in the near term.
4. Look at Competitor Sites, Then Outdo Them
Knowing where you stand against your competitors is essential when it comes to both products and content. But understanding where your organization can outshine them is the goal when it comes to analyzing your rivals’ content.
Your marketing and sales teams likely have clarity on what your company offers over others. Use that lens and internal information as you assess and review what others in your industry offer through content. Log your findings in a spreadsheet, noting links, keywords, and reach throughout the web.
Once you’ve reviewed competitor sites, do a content analysis of your own site to see where you line up. Compare and contrast your content against theirs, identifying gaps where you can outdo their efforts. If they provide a text tutorial on ways to use their product, develop a how-to video to demonstrate yours. Track competitor content over time as a part of your regular process, and you’ll stay ahead of the game.
Keeping Content Fresh, Even While Managing High Volume
Fresh, relatable, and relevant content can open up a new prospect to the possibility of engaging with your organization. When teams focus on adding value through their content, the solution your product or service offers becomes the consumer’s natural choice. But achieving this is easier said than done, especially when the need for new content is unending.
Aim to create a cadence for developing content, setting a recurring content generation methodology that’s manageable. Log ideas that bubble up as teams write new content, identifying potential stories unearthed by the creative process. Categorize your ideas into digestible pieces and assign work in a way that accounts for your review process and delivery needs. Once you’ve established a robust content generation process, your team can focus on creating high-quality content that drives results every time.