Do you believe in synchronicity?
When I woke up this morning, my plan was to write a blog about industry authority within a content marketing strategy. That all changed when I read this LinkedIn Pulse article.
In short, author Todd Hedberg explains that we’re so focused on being the experts in our industry that we never let down our guard to confess that we’re, well, not. And there’s a way to show this vulnerability strategically – by asking your audience questions.
By the end of it, he asks, “What are you asking ‘what if?’ about?”
I just had to weigh in. After all, he just stated in his article that he wanted to collect opinions from an array of readers. So here’s how I responded.
And just like that, I decided to change the angle of this blog post.
Let’s Get One Thing Straight First
There’s nothing wrong with having authority in your industry when it comes to your content marketing. In fact, quite the opposite is true: Successful content marketing strategies maintain respected authority within their industry.
So why not start there? Should we be listing off all the topics we are know-it-alls about, polishing our this-is-the-right-way voice, touting our own horns?
I’ve sat through too many content marketing strategy meetings where this is the place we start. You can imagine how suffocating a conference room quickly gets with the inflation of so many egos.
Yet that’s where we go wrong. We think that industry authority starts with us. But really we’re the end result of it.
Industry Authority Starts with Your Audience
Here’s what I mean by that: In order to know what kind of authority you must convey within your content marketing, you must know your industry first.
Seems simple enough. You’re probably well-versed in the products or services that you sell. You understand the reasons for this need and the specifications needed to enhance the experience of the products or services you sell.
But who needs these products or services? Who desires this experience?
That’s where you need to start. You need to know what questions your audience is asking, how knowledgeable they are within the industry and what needs they want to be met.
So why not ask?
Let’s Start a Conversation
Just like I pointed out within my comments in Todd’s article, we think industry authority means broadcasting everything we know about the industry upon our audience.
That’s not how marketing works anymore. We live in an age where all companies and brands are as easy to reach as one tweet.
We shouldn’t equate industry leadership with idol worship. Just picture the leaders you respect within the marketing realm. Do they boast of their knowledge then drop the mic? Or do they start conversations and actually listen?
Content marketing isn’t a one-way communications street. Audience participation is just as valuable to the creation of content marketing as is your role in creating the material.
So ask your audience questions. Not with an agenda to brainstorm topics for your content marketing strategy. Ask questions because you’re genuinely interested in their point of view.
And listen! Hear what they’re saying, not what you want to hear. Listen with the intent of listen, not to devise how to react or reply. Your audience may surprise you with what they know and where they want to go.
True, these conversations start on social media, not within content marketing (social media is NOT content marketing!). But the conversations you have online within social media or in person at conferences, conventions or meetings can influence where you take your content marketing strategy.
How can your conversations influence your content marketing? You can:
- Use what someone from your audience base says online or in person as a launching point for a content marketing piece. With their permission to use their words, of course.
- Mention a common response to a question you posed as a launching point for a content marketing piece.
- Survey your audience with a handful of questions (either open-ended or multiple choice). Be upfront that these questions will be showcased in a future content marketing piece. This may actually increase audience participation. And your readers will love to see if they’re showcased or just feel the presence of the industry community you have created underneath your umbrella.
Now it’s your turn! How can customer conversations influence your content marketing? Share your ideas or simply your thoughts on this topic below.