7 Sources of Raw Material for Your Content Marketing Strategy

Is your business using a content marketing strategy?

According to a recent study by the Custom Content Council, 73% of consumers prefer to get their information about an organization in articles rather than advertisements. That means it’s more important than ever to include custom content in your marketing mix. Doing so will help drive purchases, improve relationships, and give your customers useful information in a medium they prefer.

Content marketing essentially means that rather than pitching your product directly, you instead provide resources to educate and inform your prospects. If it’s done correctly it often leads to the sale.

Generating compelling content that people want to consume can increase your website traffic and help you to attract and retain a dedicated following. In order to produce quality content you’re going to need a good source of raw material to continually draw upon.

Here are 7 fantastic resources to help you never run out of content ideas:

#1: RSS Reader: Scan it Daily A great way to get fresh ideas and inspiration is to sign up for a free RSS reader such as Google Reader. Then use the Google Blogs search option and search blog directory sites such as Technorati and Blogcatalog for blogs that are relevant to your product or service. When you find what you’re looking for simply subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed and adding it to your reader. Organize your feeds into folders and sort by category for easy scanning; you can combine topics you find in your industry’s blogs with your own commentary to create posts that stand on their own.

#2: Make Every Employee a Marketer: Encourage employees to contribute to your blog by writing posts on a topic of interest that relates to your industry. Ask your customer service and sales teams about their most frequently asked questions then have them write blog posts about the solutions. Creating a simple blog template for employees to use can be a great tool to eliminate any barriers to writing a post.

#3: Crowdsource: Online survey and polling tools can be invaluable resources for collecting and prioritizing these ideas in an organized way. Post a social networking status or blog asking your audience for content topics and suggestions. Embedding a survey or poll directly into your website or blog engages your audience in real time, and lets their voice be heard. You can also launch a survey or poll directly into email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn asking for feedback.

#4: LinkedIn Groups: There’s no shortage of opinions on LinkedIn. You can join up to 50 groups per individual profile. Find the most active groups related to your industry by searching the groups tab. An easy way to tell which groups are most active is by the number of members and discussions. LinkedIn Answers is also a fantastic place to tap the knowledge of your professional network.

#5: Forums: If social media has a grandfather, its name is Grandpa Forum. These open and free discussions are a fantastic way to find out what’s going on in your niche. A simple search on Google for + forum will yield thousands of results.

#6: Google News: Want to keep your content relevant to current events and hot topics in the media? Sure you do. Google News aggregates headlines from news sources worldwide, groups similar stories together and displays them according to each reader’s personalized interests. Simply search for keywords related to your industry and click on the news. Scanning the results will immediately provide you with headlines to tie your topic to what’s happening in the world.

#7: Attend Industry Events: Meetups, Webinars, Tweetchats, Conferences. There’s a wealth of events hosted online and off on a weekly basis with many offering the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. Look for events with topics related to your industry and jump right in. Chances are you’ll leave inspired with new ideas and a new found vigor to churn them into remarkable content.

The overall goal here it to be relevant and provide value to your target market; if you continually publish and spread great content, customers will come to you.

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