Blog Post Inspiration Sources

Blogging is one of the most strategic ways a business can position itself as a trustworthy, reputable and knowable source of products and information.

However, if you aren’t regularly adding value to the conversation when you blog, or posting information people want to know about or solving their problems, you may not gain any traction with prospective customers.

How do you find information that’s current and where do you get inspiration?

You can always search the web with Google or Bing, however, if you want real-time or consumer-curated insights which are more genuine and more helpful and which provide absolute insight into your consumer’s needs, there are other options. The sources we’ll discuss here all provide genuine consumer-relevant information to inspire posts, which is your imperative as a blogging business owner.

Using interesting and relevant topics for your posts is a better way of getting blog inspiration than relying solely on what you think is important, though, that also has a place in your blog topic calendar. If you search, review and analyze live topics and trends relevant to your business and which are top-of-mind across the Web, you’ll meet consumer needs and business needs as well as get keen business insights.

Using the example of a cupcake shop wanting to get inspiration and learn what’s trending, let’s review a number of sources analyzed below. There is a hyperlinked cupcake example (search) for each of these sources, so click on each hyperlink to experience how these keyword focused searches work on each platform.

Some of the ways that you can find current topics of interest include:

  1. Google Trends—Google actively indexes in real-time what people are searching for now, so using Google Trends is like having a crystal ball giving you real time access to the global mind. Using this Google Trends, you can see a graphic representation of the topic’s growth and decline, as well as important and related keywords and countries where the topic is trending. Google Trends Cupcake Example.
  2. Twitter Search—Twitter, the micro-blogging platform, has a powerful search feature. Twitter Search allows you to dive headlong into the stream-of-consciousness-slice-of-life-Tweets of Twitter users.  Using Twitter to search the global hive mind provides you with a great set of “here’s what we’re talking about” and access to the a real voice of your customer. You can search Twitter by keywords or hashtags, the active operators which immediately categorize information tagged. Hashtag examples are #CHS for Charleston, and #Foodies for food lovers. Twitter Keyword search example for Cupcake. Twitter #cupcake search.
  3. Facebook Search – Facebook is a powerful search engine. Using the search feature, you can input a hashtag and search posts, pages or people. Of course, individuals’ privacy settings control what is visible. That being said, many people do not limit what others see. Posts by pages are visible in search. There are an amazing number of filters which you may apply that select posts, pages, people, the public and you can set specific locations. You can search via your friends and so much more. Check out the image of a typical search.
    cupcake search example from Facebook
  4. Answer the Public– This amazing resource allows you to input a keyword and learn what questions people are searching related to that topic. You can export the information and it’s also presented visually as a circular infographic so you can quickly take in how the information is related to the topic. Try out Answer the Public.
    Answer the Public visualized search results
  5. Instagram – The photo sharing platform Instagram allows users to hashtag images. You can search tags, and topics for visual inspiration for blog posts. Remember, blog posts can be photos, graphics, videos, and text based. Input the hashtag #cupcake into the Instagram search tool and enter. Voila! You can see exactly what people are sharing and posting and you’ll be able to see which posts have the greatest likes and shares. View examples of posts tagged #cupcake.
  6. YouTube Search – YouTube is one of the highest used search engines. The ability to tag videos and set rich descriptions makes this a vast repository of current content. YouTube also has a trending filter so you can see what is rising in popularity. You can search based on a channel, a playlist (groups of related videos created by users), length and so much more. The ability to search and filter by rating helps you determine what is popular.
    YouTube search example
  7. Brand Mention AKA Social Mention – Provides a way to search across the social media universe to see how people are using specific terms and posts. You may search based on time period, such as last 24 hours, last week, or last month. You may also search by language.  Brand mention Cupcake Research Example.
  8. Pinterest– Frequently thought of as the stomping ground of hobbyists and bored moms, this social media site is a treasure trove of what is trending. Pinterest rocks as far as getting incredible ideas based in imagry. Check out the results from this search for #cupcake

There are many ways go gain inspiration for blog posts. These are examples of some of my favorite ones. What are your favorite ways to get blog post inspiration? Share yours and help compile a list for everyone’s benefit – because, that is why we’re all here – to help one another.

 

Thanks to Image by congerdesign from Pixabay for the featured image for this post.

New businesses need a marketing plan

marketing graphic

Every few days one hears about the closing of a fairly recently opened business. Recently, I heard one of the owners of a just closed business attribute her restaurant’s demise to “poor marketing, we weren’t able to sustain staying open.” Other problems cited were delayed opening in December rather than in a more robust time of the year (as far as restaurant patronage goes, opening during the Thanksgiving – Christmas period is a terrible mistake) and a poor choice of name which gave mis-cues to the customer as to the restaurant’s concept.

Low budgets often blamed for lack of marketing

Every new business needs a marketing plan. Your marketing must start prior to your opening. But many small business owners feel that they are on short financial leashes and so jettison any marketing plan. But, I think many confuse marketing with advertising.

What marketing is

Marketing is a systematic approach to understanding and communicating relevant information about your products with your potential customer. It includes a messaging strategy often called a communications plan that encompasses public relations, social media, paid advertising, community relations and events. It may or may not include paid ad placement. Every new business plan must allocate resources to marketing your business. These resources are time and money.

Be where your customers are

As you begin to develop your marketing plan you must comprehend where and how your customers seek information about the category of goods you sell. If you are selling a product primarily for women between the ages of 25 and 35, understand what influences these women, where they get their information and plan a strategy to have information in those channels.

You can create your own marketing plan

In the case of some businesses, you may find you have less time than money and so you pay a professional to assist with the development of your marketing and communications strategies. If you are a very small business, you can often create and implement your marketing plan yourself, however, in no instance can you choose to believe “If I build it, they will come.” Nor should you put all your eggs in the viral (e.g. “I’m going to create a new video and it’s going to go viral.”) myth basket. It’s great if an aspect of your business catches the attention of customers, but what will sustain actual paying customers?

Provided your services or products meet a need or create a new need and are well made, available to the market with a good distribution system, properly priced, provided with superior customer service and people know about you, and you consistently share interesting information, you will meet with success.

What does it mean to take your business to the next level?

The office phone rang and I answered. The person on the other end said, “Hi, I’m Phil, and I’d like your help to take my business to the next level.” After a few basic questions, I asked Phil what he wanted to accomplish with his business. He could not answer that question.

So, I asked him, “What does the the ‘next level’ look like to you? Still he was not able to respond. Finally, he said, “Can you help me figure it out”?

The mysterious business elevator

Over the years, I’ve had lots of calls from executives and business owners who want to take that mysterious business elevator “to the next level.” Just the other day I read the following in a press release about the hiring of a new CEO for a breakfast restaurant franchise,

“Having a leader of [Name redacted] caliber and experience will allow us to take the brand to the next level. His particular expertise in helping founder-led, franchised restaurants realize their next stage of growth will be of tremendous value as we leverage the increasing popularity of breakfast-based concepts and attract new franchise partners to our family.”

Even in this press release there was no specificity behind the desire to elevate the brand and grow to the next stage. How can potential franchisees reading this comprehend where the business is headed?

If after a few years in business, you want to surge forward, increasing your business footprint or adding a new line of services, or increasing capital investments, but unless you’re specific, “taking my business to the next level” doesn’t mean anything to a marketing consultant.

How can you help your marketing consultant understand the next level?

In the marketing world, we work with quantifiable audiences and goals. We quantify who we want to receive our messages, where they will find or consume our messages and how frequently we expect they will engage with our messages. So we need to be precise.

You, too, should be precise when consulting us. We rejoice to hear goals such as, “I want to increase my Facebook page engagement 20%,” or “I’d like to gain 10 new customers per month for my warranty service.” This laser-focuses us on your business development goals and allows us to begin honing an audience segment. But to get that focused, you need customer insights.

Customer insights — what are they and where to get them

It’s not simple to arrive as these numbers. You need to track your sales trends by customer, period, service, and product. This implies you have the type of data system to allow you to retrieve this insight from either a CRM system or at least a POS system.

Some industries use loyalty programs to help them get data on a segment of their customers who have opted-in to a loyalty / rewards system. Grocery stores love loyalty programs for this very reason. They provide incentives to customers which cause them to use loyalty / rewards cards and the company then has a meta understanding of their purchasing/shopping behaviour.

In my career I’ve established loyalty programs that allowed us to identify our best customers and get more insights on their frequency, recency and preferences. We could identify those who dined infrequently and incent them to dine more.

Restaurants are generally able to pull up metrics such as how frequently particular entrees are sold and cross reference that with daypart/time. This type of insight can help spot the dogs on a menu or the upward trends in taste preferences. This alone can help identify market segments for a restaurant.

If your company does not have a CRM system or way to extract the data, what do you have? Sales associates. They are a real gold mine when it comes to customer insights. They know about issues and customer satisfaction. And they often have insights into new segments or uses for your product.

Sometimes growth can simply be stopping or reducing the customer churn. Everyone loses customers. It happens. But if you’re not staying level, then you’re declining. Your sales associates and customer service staff ought to be able to help identify the reasons for customer churn.

Ultimately, the best way to grow customers is to provide simply amazing service, so that no one wants to leave you. High customer satisfaction comes at a cost. It implies that you have high quality products and services and are constantly refining or improving every aspect of what you do and why you do it.

So next time you want to take the magic business elevator to the top, stop and determine what all the floors are between you and the penthouse.

Still need help to determine what the next level is?

Here’s a template you can use to be more specific regarding next level growth when you’re going to talk about your marketing with a consultant.

Quantifying the Next Level – A strategic approach to identifying what you’re going to accomplish.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive planning document. This is an outline to comprehend where you want to go and what is required to get there. Obviously greater planning of every component must be undertaken. What would you add to this? Leave your comments below.

Step 1: Identify the Goal

Over the next _____ (months/years) our company will grow. Specifically we will:

 

  • Add ____ (number of ) customers for ______________________________ (service/daypart/segment) and we will expect these customers to spend $00.00 per person per ____________ (week/month/quarter/year).

OR

  • Increase our top line sales by ________ percent

OR

  • We will open ____ (new storefronts/add new sales outlets/distributors)  in ________ (locations).

OR

  • We will increase customer satisfaction after the sale by ___________ percent. We will measure this using our customer survey.

OR

  • We will increase customer retention from __________ (months/years) to ___________ (months/years).

Step 2: Outline Your Strategy

Our strategy for accomplishing these goals will be:

Enumerate and outline exactly what will be required to accomplish this growth. Include all necessary components and their expected cost.

  • Personnel
  • Bricks and mortar
  • Technology
  • Capital
  • Training
  • Raw Materials

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash