As various industries change, companies may find that their marketing efforts aren’t evolving with them and are falling behind, becoming ineffective. For the majority of the past decade, we have been in what is considered to be the “age of the customer.”
Today, consumers are empowered and are no longer interested in the generic push-push-push messaging of traditional marketing; they want to be wowed and are more responsive to the personalized messaging of inbound marketing.
This is where content marketing comes into play. Content marketing is, according to this great definition from a marketer at HubSpot, “a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience — usually online — the goal of which is to attract new customers.”
So, how do you write content for your industry that can help you to engage, awe, inspire, and even dazzle those whose purchasing power can make or break your business? You start as you would with anything else: at the beginning.
Get Over the First Major Hurdle
You know what you want to say, but you find yourself struggling with how to say it. Many people, including professional copywriters, struggle sometimes to put words to paper (or, in most cases, to a Word or Google Doc). And, when this happens, few things can feel more frustrating.
So take a few minutes to try to clear your head before coming back to the task — go for a brief walk, take a restroom break, grab a beverage, or even go look up a cute cat video (or two) online.
If you still find yourself struggling after this brief interlude, just start talking aloud about what it is you want to convey through your post. As strange as it may sound, some people do better physically talking about it to help their “creative juices” start flowing.
By saying what you want to write, you are enabling your mind to flow through the thought process without the hindrance of having to try to type what you’re saying. Then, once you have those first few sentences in mind, you can begin writing and may be surprised to find how easily the content starts to come to you.
Create a Resource Library
Before you start writing, make sure that you have some of the resources you’ll need at your disposal. When you’re sitting down to write a piece of content to promote a new product, help users solve a particular issue, or discuss a relevant industry trend, you can tie in some factual industry-related information and statistics that will help bolster your content.
But, you don’t want to find yourself spending a few hours trying to find an industry resource every time you start to write a new post.
What you can do to address this issue ahead of time is research some of the types of resources you’ll need to put together a content library of sorts. You can:
- Download reports or studies;
- Bookmark some of your favorite website resources; or
- Create a Word doc that you can refer to that is organized by topic or resource.
But, what sort of information and resources should you be gathering? A really good place to start would be looking at
- Official government websites. Government pages often provide a lot of useful information and official sources that you can use.
- Professional industry organizations. These organizations often serve as an incredible resource for finding out relevant information, trends, and ongoing research taking place in your field.
- Academic resources. Colleges and universities also offer a vast amount of information. Additionally, they are a place where you can find subject matter experts across a number of industries that you can speak with who may be serving as researchers or faculty.
- Industry publications. These publications provide a lot of great information and great insight to your audience while also showing that you’re in-the-know about trends within your industry.
Including these reputable sources can be a huge benefit to your organization, not only in terms of providing quality content but also in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. When you link yourself to any of
Data and Academic Sources
I’ve put together a list of some of the top data, research, and scholarly resources you can use to the benefit of your readers:
- Analytics.usa.gov. This site provides information about how people interact with the U.S. government online via many (but not all) of its websites.
- Data.gov. This website is a powerful tool that boasts nearly 225,000 datasets for finding information on a number of topics.
- Google Scholar. As a top ranking search engine, Google always has a wealth of information. However, Google Scholar is particularly great because it allows you to search specifically for academic publications and research.
- U.S. Census Bureau. This website is an incredible wealth of information about the general population and businesses of the United States. The QuickFacts page in particular also is a great resource for some basic information.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This website has a plethora of great resources and data relating to job industries and positions.
- USAFacts.org. This website is a great new tool that pulls data from more than 70 local, state, and federal government website resources.
Copywriting and General Content Marketing Resources
When you start writing your blog and content, you’ll need to make sure that you’re using some good resources to make sure you stay on track and present your messaging effectively. Some of the best tools are those that can help you make sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are correct and are presented in the most efficient format.
Some of these tools include:
- AP Style Book. This resource is the holy book for journalists and is a great resource for consistency and for knowing how to properly write things for the media. This is a great resource for writing news releases and other related content.
- Capitalize My Title. If you’re not sure whether the first letter of a word in a title should be uppercase or lowercase, you’ll be relieved to know that there’s a tool for that.
- Content Marketing Strategy Guide. This gem gives you a view into what goes into developing and hiring your marketing team, as well as creating, publishing, and measuring the outcomes of your content marketing initiatives.
- Grammarly. This simply goes without saying. While it’s always good to have a second person review your work before publication, Grammarly is an excellent substitute. This way you can proof your content for any big errors in the event that no one is available to review it for you.
- HubSpot Marketing Resources. This page is chock full of goodies — everything from eBook and infographic templates to email templates and a marketing plan generator.
Need to find an image you can use for your blog, website, social media, or email workflows? Yeah, we thought so. There are literally thousands of websites where you can get images -- both for free and for purchase. However, it’s important to know which images you can use and which ones you can’t, and why.
While it’s easy to go to Google Images and run a query, if you try to use one of those images, you’ll probably land yourself and your company in some hot water. Using images without permission can lead to a potential lawsuit for copyright infringement (and a lot of ticked off photographers).
If you’re on a tight budget, or have no budget, and are looking for resources of where you can get some copyright-free images, then you’ve come to the right place. Some copyright-free or public domain photography websites that have images for personal and/or commercial use include:
- Fancy Crave
- Life of Pix
- New Old Stock
Just always be sure to check the image copyright information on each picture before using it to verify there is nothing that will end up surprising you later on.
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to public domain or copyright-free photography. If you have a budget available and want to buy some premium images, you can always purchase a membership plan to stock photography websites. Some great sites include:
I hope that you find these resources useful in helping you get crackin’ on creating some winning content for your prospective customers. If you have any killer resources that you’d also like to recommend, be sure to share them in the comments section of this blog.