Every B2B content writer is faced with the challenge of developing content marketing topics that will engage potential buyers.
Sometimes your client will know their market well and give you plenty of ideas. But often, they will look to you to help them identify the best content to attract new buyers.
So, what do you do when your client asks you for content marketing topics?
Instead of jumping in and brainstorming ideas, I recommend you start with an Editorial Plan.
Create an Editorial Plan
An Editorial Plan identifies the topics you’re going to cover over the next month, or even the next year. I find a three-month period usually makes the most sense.
Let’s say you’re writing an email newsletter for a client that is published twice a month. So, over the next three months, you’ll need content for six issues.
Your Editorial Plan would list the topics you’re going to cover in those six issues. You don’t have to have an outline of each issue, or even the exact title of the articles. Your Editorial Plan simply has a list of the topics.
This is something I do for one of my clients. I write three different newsletters for this client. And every three months, I give him an Editorial Plan for each newsletter.
I come up with ideas for topics for the three newsletters. And then I give him an Excel spreadsheet that lists the date of the issue and the topic idea.
I include as much detail as I can while leaving myself a little elbow room to make minor changes if I need to.
Usually, when I send the spreadsheet to him, he emails me back and says, “Yeah, these topics sound okay.” Sometimes he gives me feedback and says, “No, the topic for the fourth newsletter — I don’t like it. Let’s come up with another idea.” And collaborating together, we nail down the Editorial Plan.
So, whenever you’re working with a client on regularly published content, newsletters, blogs, or social media, make sure you create an Editorial Plan and have it approved by your client.
Having an Editorial Plan makes it much easier. Don’t just go from issue to issue, blog post to blog post, coming up with last-minute ideas. Your content marketing will be much better — and easier — when you know what you’re writing about for each blog post or newsletter issue.
Now, how do you come up with content marketing topics so you can create this Editorial Plan? Here are three simple strategies that work for me.
#1. Talk to Your Client
First of all, talk to your client. Have a discussion with them about their target audience.
Ask them questions — what are the important issues that their target audience is dealing with right now? What problems, challenges, and issues are they hearing from their clients?
Asking questions like these will help you flush out what the most important issues are for your client’s target audience. And they can very quickly become topics for your client’s content.
Another question I often ask clients is, “What assumptions does your target audience have that drive you crazy?” or, “What mistakes does your target audience make that drive you insane?”
Sometimes I’ll ask a question like that because the answer can also be an excellent topic for an article, blog post, or perhaps a series of social media posts.
If I’m writing a lot of content for a client, I’ll have a discussion with them at least once a month. Our discussion helps me get my finger on the pulse of their target audience and come up with topic suggestions much more quickly.
#2. Websites of Professional Associations
Take a look at the websites of professional associations your client’s target market belongs to.
For example, I have a client whose target market is real estate agents. One of the associations they belong to is the National Association for Realtors.
Visit the association’s website and see what topics they are addressing.
Be sure to click on the link for their events, conferences, meetings, workshops, and courses. The topics the association is promoting in their seminars, conferences, or meetings are often hot topics for that target audience.
You can also subscribe to the association newsletter. And here’s a tip: look for the words challenge or new in the titles or in the headlines. Those words often indicate something recent that has happened, a really hot topic.
And by the way, there is probably a professional association for every conceivable type of target audience. So, I’m sure you’re going to find one.
Just last week, I was dealing with a target audience that was so narrowly defined and so small that I had my doubts that a professional association existed. But sure enough, after I did some digging, I found out that there is a professional association for this small, narrowly defined group.
They have a couple of hundred members and they meet every year. It’s very small, but they do meet. And they have conferences and workshops dedicated to that membership. It gave me a lot of great ideas for content.
#3. Professional Publications
What professional industry publications does your client’s target audience read? All you have to do is flip through those publications and read some of the topics.
And you’ll find all kinds of topic ideas for your client’s content. These publications survive because they’re able to figure out the hot topics for their target audience.
What does their target audience want to read? What does their target audience want to know? What are the top issues that your content should be addressing?
Publications need to do this on a day-to-day basis to stay connected with their target audience. So find some of the industry and professional publications that your client’s target audience reads.
Then, review the topics over the past several issues. You’ll come up with more than enough great content marketing topics.
And by the way, don’t be afraid to pay for and subscribe to some of these publications. Hopefully, they exist online for free. But if you have to pay, in most cases, it’s worth it.
As I mentioned earlier, the target audience for one of my biggest clients is Realtors. So, to help me write content effectively for my client and come up with topic ideas, I’ve subscribed to three different paid publications. I paid for those myself as a cost of doing business. I don’t bill that through to the client.
But it helps me come up with a lot of great topic ideas because I can be up on the latest news in that industry. I know what the hot topics are and I can quickly come up with topic ideas for my client’s newsletters.
Those are three simple strategies to help you come up with content marketing topics for your clients.
Have you found other good sources for content topics? Let me know in the comments below!