How to build a content factory (yes, you must)

Many companies nowadays understand that great marketing is to create great content that is interesting to your prospects, customers, or people who influence potential customers. Next, you start asking yourself a question, "Okay, how do I do that?".  What about approaching this as if you were building your product? You can think of the content lifecycle like a product lifecycle, and apply the same principles like agile development, optimizing the user experience etc.

Stop thinking about content as a blog, infographic or video project. Don't build content as campaigns. Think of content as a product with it's specific customers that drives meaningful interactive experiences.  This means you need to talk to your customers first. Few, new age, digital marketers understand and are good at the craft of talking to customers.

It takes a special skill to understand customer needs, their pain points, and ask them the "Why?" question to get what it is they're trying to achieve. This skill is not common among marketers anymore. It's not being trained and taught very well, therefore many marketers struggle with this. They wonder, "How do I start my marketing content strategy? How do I build content for blogs, for tweets, for my website?" and often they turn to shortcuts like copying popular topics, using tools like Paper.li to auto generate content etc.

In light of this I want to talk about a few things that will make it easier for you to get started.

1. Talk to your customers.

This is a very obvious thing, but not a lot of people actually do it. Pick up the phone—yes indeed, when your customers or prospects call you—and seize an amazing opportunity to talk to them, to listen to them, to understand what they care about. What is on their mind? What made them think about your product? What are they trying to achieve by buying your product? What did they like about your product? What didn't they like about your product? All of this will tell you something about the strength of your product or service that you may want to emphasize when you build your content library.

2. It's not about you, it's about your customers.

Your content should never be about your product or your company, it should be about your customers and their needs. Talk to them, listen to them. Ask the question "Why?" multiple times. When they tell you that they're trying to do X with your product and are struggling, they need your support and help. Help them achieve X, fix whatever needs to be fixed. Again, ask why are they trying to do this, why it's important to them.

For example, let's say, they want to route their calls in a particular way, something MightyCall offers, and they're calling you because they're struggling to set up the right structure. Ask them, "Why is that?" They might tell you that their employees that are not available all the time, that they work in shifts. The same phone number has to go to one person one part of the day, and to another person another part of the day, maybe even on another day of the week. As you listen, you will begin to understand their business. Ask, "Why do you have people working in shifts?" Maybe they will tell you that they want to be open more than 8 hours a day. They want to be open 20 hours a day, that's why they have people working in shifts. Before you know it, you start going down the path of understanding their painpoints. You see that hiring people to work long hours outside of normal office hours might be expensive. You see that it's important to equip them with tools, perhaps a mobile phone system that makes it possible for these people to work from home. It's cheaper. They don't have to commute. Then you ask, "Why do you want to provide service 20 hours a day?" And the customer might tell you about their customers, about trying to serve their needs and address their pain points. Throughout this conversation you will find topics that are interesting to write about and that are relevant to your customers.

3. Great content provides new information.

The greatest content is the content that provides some new insight, a new idea, a new interesting solution to a problem. Take your time to understand what your customers are trying to do. Help them achieve that. Add some of your own research. Give them new data that they might find useful. Spend your time learning how to best alleviate their pain. Ask, ask, ask, and they will tell you what they need. It's as simple as that.

So this is how you build your content factory. It's very simple, really. Ask your customers questions. Listen to your customers. Pick up the phone. Do customer service. Do customer support. All of this will give you an amazing source of new topics to blog about, write about, tweet about, make videos about. You can make how-to videos about how to use your product. To use my earlier example, you could make a video on how to manage teams that have to cover shifts 20 hours a day. This would make for a great piece of content. And you got because you talked to your customers. 

Your to-do list:

  • Answer every single phone call.  Make sure you have a system in place that allows you to do it. Similarly, answer every tweet, every Facebook message, every email. Use a service like MightyCall that helps with this.
  • Record every interaction for future content mining. Don't forget to ask permission to do that.
  • If your phone is quiet and you get no messages, take initiative into your own hands. Call your existing customers, ask them how they are doing and if they need any help with anything. Be human and humble.