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How to Explode with Effective Content Ideas

Stuck for content ideas?

It’s a common problem. From what to post on LinkedIn, to the topic for your new blog post. Your best intentions can hit an ideas block.

But there are ways to release your creativity.

Learn how one business tapped into a wealth of content. And takeaway 3 practical tips to explode with your own effective content ideas.

How to Get the Best Content Ideas From Your Customers

Content is not only for big business. In fact, content can transform small businesses.

That’s what happened to Marcus’ business.

He was the manager of a swimming pool shop in Virginia, USA. Marcus’ job was to greet customers who came into the shop, answer their questions and persuade them to buy a swimming pool or some accessories.

Now Marcus hadn’t set out to work in the swimming pool industry. But in the 7 years he’d worked in the shop he soaked up knowledge about the world of swimming pools.

That’s because he had to answer the questions that customers had when they came into the shop. Such as the difference between a concrete swimming pool liner and a fibreglass liner. Or what accessories you need for a hot tub.

The Challenge of a Recession: Sink or Swim

But in 2009 they faced bankruptcy.

When the recession hit, orders dried up and fewer people came into the shop. As a result, Marcus racked his brain about what he could do to improve things.

How could he get more visitors and more customers?

That’s when he realised what most people came into the shop for. It wasn’t swimming pools or hot tubs. Instead, they were looking for information.

A swimming pool is a major purchase, so most customers do their research before handing over money. That means lots of questions.

And they came into the shop to get the answers.

Marcus also found that when he answered their questions, customers were more likely to buy. This got Marcus thinking …

As well as sharing helpful information in the shop, he could also answer questions online.

Answer Customers’ Questions

As a result, Marcus started writing answers to the customers he got asked.

Every night when he got home from work he’d sit at his kitchen table to write an in-depth article to answer a key question. Then he’d add it to the company’s blog and publish it online.

Marcus’ colleagues did the same.

Some of them wrote articles, some recorded videos. But they all created content to answer customers’ questions and share online.

Winning Content: More Visitors and More Customers

This was done week in, week out. Month in, month out.

And over time they started to see positive results. The traffic to their website grew and more of their visitors became customers.

In fact, not only did their business survive the recession, it went on to thrive. Even today, if you Google a question about swimming pool liners, you’re still likely to find their content.

swimming pool google query

The business, River Pools and Spas, expanded and is now a manufacturer as well as an installer.

Marcus also trains other businesses on how to create content which works for them. You can read more about Marcus Sheridan’s story in his book, They Ask You Answer.

3 Practical Tips to Find Shiny New Content Ideas

1) Be Inspired by Your Customers and Contacts

As well as your customers, you can get excellent content ideas from your contacts too.

I spend a lot of time meeting other business owners and managers at local networking events. For me, it’s about building relationships to help build my business.

Some of the people I talk to could become customers. And you never know who your contacts talk to as well.

But it’s also a chance to meet your audience face-to-face.

You get asked about what you do. Or you end up discussing other issues that interest local businesses.

For example, some of the questions I’m asked are about other networking events:

  • Where are other networking events held?
  • What groups do you have to pay for?
  • Which business exhibitions are there nearby?

That’s how I got the idea to write about all the local networking events and groups in Leeds and West Yorkshire.

Because effective content answers your customers’ questions. Even if it’s not about one of your products or services. But they are questions which matter to your potential customers.

And if it’s a question people ask you, they’ll also ask Google. So share practical, useful content to build your relationships. Answer the questions you get asked to create helpful content.

2) Get More Ideas with Free Tools

Once you have some topics in mind, it’s time to expand them.

Take the keywords from your questions and use these tools to boost your content ideas:

Google Autocomplete

You’ve probably used this without thinking about it.

When you type a query into Google, it suggests similar queries that other people have searched.

Google Autosuggest example

This is useful, but what if you want a longer list of related searches?

When you Google a topic, similar searches appear that other people have used. And you see a list at the bottom of your search results page too.

The simple way is to type your query e.g. “crm systems” followed by each letter of the alphabet in turn.

So start with “crm systems a”. You’ll get a list of related queries covering all the searches with your keyword followed by words starting with the letter “a”

Google Autosuggest with letter a

Repeat your search with “crm systems b” and you’ll get similar results for your keyword and terms which begin with “b”. And so on.

Google Autosuggest with letter b

Work your way through different letters to get a variety of ideas related to your keyword. Some will be more relevant to the content ideas you’re looking for than others.

This gives you a bigger pool of ideas to pick from.

Answer the Public

Google Autocomplete is handy although it’s a bit slow if you want a lot of content ideas.

But there is another tool you can use.

Answer the Public brings together all the suggested queries from Google (and Bing). Enter the keyword you’re looking for and you’ll get lists of related questions and queries. Taken straight from actual search queries.

Answer the Public screenshot

It’s free to use for the first few searches each day. After that, there’s a paid version with unlimited queries.

The default way your results are shown is with a visual ‘wheel’.

Answer the Public wheel results

But you can opt to see these in a list instead, which can be easier to read.

Answer the Public with list results

For content ideas, it’s a powerful way to brainstorm your topics with what people are looking for.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest screenshot

Ubersuggest is a similar tool to Answer the Public. But Ubersuggest also offers lots more insights to help with your digital marketing.

When you enter a keyword, Ubersuggest gives you lists of search queries related to that topic.

Ubersuggest keywords screenshot

These are grouped into suggestions, related queries, questions, prepositions and comparisons. You’ll be able to see the first 10 results, to see more results, you need to log into Ubersuggest. Also if you select one of the keywords you see an overview of that keyword and related sites.

Another option is to see content ideas based on what other sites have published on that keyword.

Ubersuggest content ideas

3) Turn What’s New into Your Next Big Content Idea

Still have an ideas block?

Sometimes you feel you’ve exhausted all your content ideas. There’s nothing else you can write about.

In which case, try a different approach: What questions are you not asked?

Think about what’s on the horizon in your sector that will impact your customers. If it’s new, your customers may not know about it and so won’t ask you questions about it.

But you can use your knowledge to inform your readers.

This could include:

  • New opportunities
  • Technology innovations
  • Changes to regulations

Even the content you think is evergreen can be improved. Go back over your old content to refresh, update and make it even more helpful.

Bring Your Content Ideas to Life

Don’t wait for a flash of brilliance in a light bulb moment. Give your ideas a boost with some outside inspiration.

What new content ideas have you had?

Let me know, I’d love to hear what you create.

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    About the Author

    Rob Beadle is a copywriter for professionals. He writes clear and effective content to help businesses win clients.

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