Blog Content Ideas: Networking & Elicitation
Staring at the Blank Canvas. What to Write.
Many small business owners struggle to come up with ideas for content marketing. It’s perfectly understandable. Aside from HR tasks, payroll, bookkeeping, and, well, the actual business of selling their product or service, there is barely time to brainstorm blog ideas. There are a number of different ways to come up with post ideas from our everyday lives. One great content source: the business networking and professional meetings we all attend.
The value of taking part in local business networking events and professional meetings for digital marketing.
Taking part in local business networking events and professional meetings or seminars has multiple levels of intrinsic value (even for introverts).
- First, building a relationship with other professionals leads to client-creating connections;
- Second, these events are great providers of continuing education for professionals, allowing them to see what potential clients need them to know or instructing them on practical skills (in the case of professional seminars); and,
- Third, alert professionals at events are gaining valuable information regarding topics that they need to cover on their digital marketing platforms.
The first two benefits seem obvious: making personal connections and developing our skills are the primary reasons most attend business events (at the very least, they are there to get continuing professional education credit). The third benefit may be less obvious. When one attends a business event and listens to others talk about their challenges, opportunities, and successes, valuable insight is gained on what matters to prospective clients.
Eliciting information about what other professionals consider important should guide our content marketing
When I worked in the intelligence and national security field, we talked about the skill of gleaning important information without directly asking someone “what’s important to you?” For other professions, elicitation may not be something formally studied or discussed, even though it has a universal value.
During networking meetings and professional seminars, professionals should be eliciting the following information from prospective clients:
- what are their current challenges?
- where are they experiencing opportunities?
- what personal experiences or life changes are they going through that relate to the professional’s business?
- what motivates them?
When prospective clients discuss their current challenges, pay attention. Those challenges provide content ideas – blog posts offering ways to help solve those problems for those prospective clients and countless others. Even when they say that they cannot identify problems, that is, in essence, identifying the problem of not knowing how to assess a business’ strengths and weaknesses.
When someone at a networking event talks about how they are landing new opportunities with a certain type of client or doing certain types of work (such as when a real estate agent talks about having a string of luck selling homes in a particular town), this is a lead to content creation related to that business’ niche. Using the given example, this could mean posts for services geared to new residents in that community, or for services for overly busy real estate agents, or something equally related to the change in that market.
Similarly, businesses should be gearing their marketing posts to personal and professional changes in the lives of those with whom they do business. The business environment, like any ecosystem, relies on the symbiosis between enterprises. A remodeling company can talk about things which can be done to improve homes for the growing senior population. An attorney can write about how businesses can improve collections when the market is weak.
In short, attending networking events provides insight into the needs, wants, successes, and failures experienced by peers. Writing posts geared to those themes will create value for your audience.
Todd is a combat veteran and digital marketing consultant who focuses on providing small to mid-sized businesses with the connections they need to increase their revenue in an increasingly crowded market. A former member of the Special Operations community and the Intelligence and National Security Command, Todd has a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, a doctorate from Georgetown University, and a post-graduate certificate from Cornell University.
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