In part one of this series, I advocated for including a well-maintained blog as part of an integrated business development program, but it still left open the gapingly large question of what to write about. In this post, I’m hoping to alleviate some of that anxiety by proposing a flexible editorial approach and a list of themes that can generate an endless number of topics.
First, decide on the frequency of your posts – and understand that quantity isn’t as important as consistency – don’t embark on a weekly posting schedule only to peter out after a few weeks of posts. That being said, you probably don’t want to post any less than monthly. That’s only twelve posts a year, a pretty reasonable number!
Next, have an editorial theme for your blog. And as far as I’m concerned, your overriding editorial theme should be based on your agency’s positioning. Right away, this opens up a range of possible topics.
Then, start to fill in your calendar, using some or all of these blog themes:
- Take a controversial position. Strong opinions usually make for good reading, but only if you can express them articulately and add value rather than simply complaining. These kinds of opinion pieces can also be enticing to editors at trade magazines who love to publish controversial ideas.
- News curation. Since you’re already reading news and analysis pertaining to your area of expertise, compile a running list of the best, most informative, most insightful pieces you’ve read that quarter, introducing it with a short executive summary. Voila. You’ve just taken care of 25% of your 12 web posts for the year.
- Industry events. Ideally you’re attending a handful of industry conferences per year. Maybe it’s SxSW, CES, or the ANA’s Masters of Marketing; or maybe it’s a vertical conference like the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) or the National Restaurant Association (NRA) conference. Go in with your eyes wide open, knowing that you’re not the only person writing a trends piece about a trade show that thousands will be attending, but record your thoughts through the filter of your expertise and write your post with the needs of your clients and prospects in mind.
- Expert profiles. Conduct interviews with experts in your field that complement the work you do. Even better if you can figure out how to use this as a device to meet prospects. I know a consultant that does this brilliantly. He’ll often write commentaries about how a particular company is approaching an issue, interviewing the CMO for more insight. I’m not sure how often this actually results in new business for him, but he gets to have a conversation with someone who might never return a sales call.
- Geography. Smaller agencies with defined geographic scopes should have plenty to say about demographic shifts or even regulatory issues affecting the city/state/region where they and their clients do business.
- Unravel esoteric information. If you’re a specialist in emerging digital or media technologies, devote one or two posts per year to complicated topics and make them easier to understand.
- Publish industry presentations. Get more exposure for the presentations you make at industry conferences by publishing them online after the event. Or, use the months leading up to the event to stress test ideas you want to use in your presentation.
- Seasonal topics. This applies most to firms whose work has a seasonal focus, of course. If you work with retail clients, you want to make sure you’re covering big shopping seasons like back-to-school and Christmas. If your focus is sports marketing, then you might want to touch on issues affecting the upcoming football, basketball, baseball, etc., season.
- Case studies. Tout the solutions you’re developing for your clients. But ONLY publish case studies if they: 1. Have demonstrable results that your readers will care about; 2. Tell a great story; 3. Align back to the theme of your blog/positioning.
- Employee spotlights. Like the case studies, write these in such a way that clearly illustrates how this person pays off your firm’s value proposition. Resist writing a fluff piece about how they make a mean banana bread or how they’ve trained their dog to bark the alphabet.
Another way to magically turn one blog post into two or three: write a series, just like the one you’re reading right now.
I also advise you to have a way to quickly jot down ideas whenever they come to you. I record them in Evernote, which syncs between my iPhone and my laptop, plus I can clip web pages and other information that I may want to refer to in the post.
It’s my promise you that once you get in the habit of keeping these themes in mind, new ideas will come to you at an astonishing rate.