People like to talk about themselves.
They also like to talk about their interests. Honestly, who doesn’t?
It’s no surprise that when I talk about content marketing that many see it as another way to tell the world about the business they’re building.
While there is a time and place to talk about your awesome SaaS product, it can’t the only subject in your content marketing strategy.
When a business only creates content about their product, I worry. Here’s why…
When you only write about yourself
We’ve all seen those company blogs that never stray too far from what they sell.
A how-to guide for buying health insurance. A new productivity software feature release. Maybe a tips-and-tricks post for using their app.
Been there, done that.
Here’s what happens when the only content topic on your blog and social channels is yourself:
Your audience tunes out. No matter how cool your product is or how interesting of a spin you put on it, eventually your audience will tune you out.
People like to talk about themselves. Speaking of your audience, they’re the ones you serve and from which a large part of your leads (hopefully) come from. And they mostly care about themselves and their own interests.
In his must-read book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie spends several chapters on encouraging others to talk about themselves and their interests over your own. Translation: focus on the audience you serve by creating content topics that engage their interests.
This way your content empowers them to consume and share content that validates their own identities while still related to your product or industry.
Neglects key parts of the buyer’s journey. Only talking about your company and product doesn’t take into account other content your prospects need at specific points in their buyer’s journey. Product comparisons, case studies, and other product literature have value, but there’s still a lot of content your prospects need leading up to the point where they want product information.
HubSpot’s Inbound Methodology graphic below shows that product-specific content is only about 1/3rd of what your prospects need in order to know, like, and trust you enough to buy from you.
Limits the size of your audience. Related to neglecting other buyer’s journey content, it limits your potential audience to only those who are at the decision stage of their customer journey. That’s bad for branding and puts you at a disadvantage to competitors who have built awareness and likeability with your prospects.
Life is too short for bad content. Eventually, narrow, product-focused content becomes dull, dreary content. And life is too short for bad content. Amen?
You get shut down. When content marketing programs don’t produce results, they get shut down. It’s easier for business execs to give up on content marketing if they don’t understand it rather than try to improve it. I’m here to help make sure that doesn’t happen.
5 content topics to write about besides your product
So what should you write about then?
You’ve probably got a few ideas already brewing, but if you need a little additional inspiration I’ve put together 5 types of content topics you can put into your content marketing strategy right away without shocking your audience.
In fact, they’ll probably appreciate the change of pace.
1. Address different levels of needs
People and businesses have needs at different levels.
Every company or organization has a vision and goals, which they reach through strategies by executing tactics and operations, which require services and products to accomplish. In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries describes startups as having a vision, a strategy, and products. Each of these levels is an opportunity to engage your audience with content.
Here are a few examples of content HubSpot has written for each of these levels:
Vision: 12 Truly Inspiring Company Vision and Mission Statement Examples
Strategy: Introduction to Brand Strategy: 7 Essentials for a Strong Company Brand
Tactics & operations: How to Create Facebook Lead Ads: A Beginner’s Guide
Services: HubSpot Academy
Products: Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization
2. Affinity topics
This one is pretty straightforward. Affinity topics are like campfires for people to gather around. Finding ones that are relevant to your audience is an effective way to build community through your content.
WeWork does this with Creator. WeWork is a coworking office space company, but they know that many of the people who frequent their offices are creators and soloprenuers. This site shows off profiles of fellow creators and how-to guides for starting a business and other content that audience enjoys.
3. Industry-specific business practices
InVision’s blog is a pinnacle example. Their content hits regular categories like productivity, communication, and career development – topics almost anyone could be interested in, right?
Not quite so. Every piece is written for their target audience made up of professional designers.
Here’s a recent example on collaboration, but written specifically for designers working with developers: Designers and Developers Collaborate Better with These 5 Adjustments.
4. Company stories with a twist
You might be thinking that I just got done telling you to write about something other that your company. I still believe that.
Here’s the thing, though. When organizations share their experiences other companies can learn from, audiences longing for authenticity.
The Buffer Open blog does this incredibly well, publishing content about equal pay for men and women in their company, how to plan when your company is in survival mode, and more.
The key factor that makes this good content is that Buffer writes about lessons they’ve learned instead of just accomplishments and awards. One quick warning though: to do this you’ll need to be open to criticism to produce this kind of content since you’re being vulnerable.
5. Product adjacent topics
What’s a product adjacent topic? The simple answer is a subject your product belongs to or operates in that focuses on the universal issues that an audience other than your customers would consume.
If you need an example look no further than Wavelength by Asana.
Asana is a project and task management SaaS app that keeps teams organized. The team at Asana lives and breathes project management and tracking. So what do you think they write about?
Productivity, planning, communication, and management – all subject their app can play a part in improving. They’ve created a whole online publication called Wavelength by Asana with issues dedicated to specific topics and several posts within each. Take a look at their Mastering Productivity issue and you’ll find several posts about the subject.
Create content that works for your audience
Ultimately, every content marketing strategy needs content that achieves your business goals. No matter what kinds of content topics we want to create, the content we need to publish is whatever meets brand and revenue KPIs.
Set your goals, use your analytics, and keep testing to understand what gets you closer to your content marketing goals.
Over to you! What content topics do you publish?
Please feel free to leave ideas, thoughts, or suggestions in the comments below. I’d be thrilled to continue the conversation!