Does this sound familiar?
You create content for your website as quickly as you can. Of course, that’s in addition to managing your staff, optimizing lead generation campaigns, and preparing for new product announcements.
You’re experienced enough to know that fresh, relevant content is the key to engaging visitors with problems you know how to solve.
But no matter how hard you work, you can’t satisfy the perpetual need to produce new, fresh content. You build editorial calendars. You beg, borrow and steal resources wherever you can find them. You create metrics, set deadlines, and monitor dashboards.
Yet the vast, yawning maw of your visitors’ appetite for fresh content remains insatiable.
The Content Marketing Myth
“Content is king.”
It sounds good. You produce educational content for the long buying cycle of your potential business customers. They have questions and problems at each stage of their journey, questions you know how to answer.
This used to be enough when content marketing was new. But now every business website (including your competitors) has lots of content. They are all implementing some form of inbound marketing to educate buyers and generate sales leads.
It puts you under a relentless pressure to produce more content.
But you can’t afford to fall into the trap where you sacrifice quality for quantity. The last thing you want is to produce a stream of mediocre content that becomes part of the noise your customers experience.
If you want to produce a steady stream of quality content, you have to change your thinking. You have to think like a publisher.
The Secret to Content Marketing Success
Remember the expression “Write about what you know?”
Publishers understand that the speed of their receiving submissions pipeline has to match their publishing pipeline.
They settle on a topic they know well, and they relentlessly cultivate a pipeline of submissions on that topic.
It’s no different for you. You have to write about what you know better than anyone else, what others cannot imitate, and what your customers want to read about.
A group of people in your company has this material.
Who are they?
They work in technical (or product) support. They walk into work each day with a focus on how to keep your current customers. Inside and out, they know your customers’ problems and questions.
Technical support owns your overlooked source of content. Go to them. They will produce a long list of ideas for articles to write.
How to Use Technical Support for Content
Each technical support professional will have opinions about which subject is most important.
Is there a more systematic way for you to discover which subjects to write about and publish to your website?
Yes there is.
Michael Webb describes a market-at-risk calculation that you can use to uncover which problems are putting the most customers at risk for defecting.
With this equation you avoid just writing about problems where the customer screams the loudest or gets to the CEO. You can find the most serious problems (read: most costly) when you measure each problem’s frequency and its potential to damage customer loyalty.
In the table below you can see this method at work. Webb used customer service questions in his example, but the same process could be applied to technical and product support questions.
The data shows that the most frequently reported problems are back-ordered products (50%), delivery issues (39%), and invoice accuracy (28%). Although invoice errors only occur half as often as the most frequent problem (back-ordered products), its potential to damage customer loyalty is almost as high as your number one problem, far outweighing the number two problem (delivery issues).
Therefore, the top two issues that pose the most market risk are back-ordered products (4.7% to 11.7 % of the customers are at risk for defecting) and invoice accuracy (4.7% to 10.6% of customers are at risk).
Don’t Stop Now – Elaborate on Your Top Issues
We’re not talking about anything new here. It comes down to the oldest principles of business.
Talk to your customers about what’s already on their mind. Once you know what the top issues are, you can elaborate on those subjects in many directions.
For example, let’s say that you sell a software product. You are getting requests to expand the API to your product and to make it easier to use.
While you work on the product improvements related to the API, here are topics related to the API that could be the subject of articles and blog posts:
- Trends in the industry related to the issue – research in the area, alternative ways to solve the problem, new applications and tools related to the issue.
- Community responses to the issue – Events where this issue is discussed (conferences, etc.), educational resources, interviews with industry leaders about this issue, media coverage.
- Management and Culture – in addition to the technical and product issues, you could write about management issues (strategy related to the use of the API, operational issues, change management, and training).
If it’s a hot topic for your technical support staff, then it’s likely that your customers have more on their mind than just a simple product fix. Take that overlooked source of content that has the attention of your customers and start producing new and fresh material!
Image by Michael