If you've read my book, They Ask, You Answer, you know that my best piece of advice is to publish articles answering every question your customers ask.
If your customers have questions they'd like to know about your products and services, answer them in blog articles.
It really is that simple.
However, when reviewing the top performing content from my pool company, River Pools and Spas, as well as hundreds of clients' websites, we found 5 article topics were consistently outperforming the rest (regardless of whether you're B2B or B2C).
These are the Big 5 blog article topics that drive the most traffic, leads, and sales for those smart enough to write about them.
"Best of" Lists
Let's talk about each of them more in-depth.
When was the last time you went online to research a product or service before you made a purchase?
At minimum, within the last six months, right?
Maybe you bought a new boat for the family, hired some kind of contractor, or were tasked with finding a new IT service provider for your company.
At any point in your research did you ask how much that thing costs?
If you're like 99.9% of internet searchers out there, yeah, you did.
But, I'll bet at some point, you were on a company's website looking for information about costs, but couldn't find clear answers.
And when you couldn't find those answers, how did you feel about that company?
It sure didn't help your confidence in them, did it?
Too many companies don't want to talk about costs on their website, and they're for all the wrong reasons.
These might even be the reasons your company hasn't written about costs yet.
Do any of these excuses sound familiar?
But our product/services are custom designed for individual situations.
But then our competitors would know what we're charging.
But we might scare prospects away before we can explain the costs to them.
I see where you're coming from. I was once there too.
But let's take a look at these reasons:
Our product/services are custom-designed to individual situations
I get it, each project you do is different.
Many factors influence the final costs.
Prices can vary.
The best short answer you've got to how much you charge is: "Well, it depends."
We can do better.
The right answer is to write about the factors that influence costs and at least give a range of possible rates. It's that simple.
But then our competitors would know what we're charging
Do they not already?
Are they totally clueless?
Go look at their website. Are they discussing costs?
If so, you better catch up.
If not, it's your chance to get ahead of them.
It might scare away prospects before we can explain the reasons
Not answering cost questions will drive more people away as they have to go elsewhere for answers.
You have a much better shot at getting someone to stick around just by answering their most pressing questions.
Honesty fosters trust. And people want to do business with businesses they can trust.
There are two major types of problems articles you should be writing about:
Whatever product or service you sell, it is the solution to a problem your prospects are experiencing, isn't it?
In many cases, these folks only know the symptoms of their problems and may not have any clue whatsoever that you have the solution.
Write content aimed at the symptoms of their problems and inform them of their options.
If you're a roofing contractor, you can answer questions like, "why is my roof leaking."
You can write articles about how to check for leaks, how to assess water damage, and reasons they may want to talk to a roofing contractor.
They have a problem: a leaky roof.
You have solutions: a roof assessment.
If you're a managed IT services provider, your audience may be searching online for solutions to problems like:
"how can I ensure continuous monitoring of my network and phone systems?" or "How can I save money by reducing the size of my IT department?"
Again, your audience is looking for ways to optimize their IT department while cutting costs. You can write articles demonstrating how outsourcing managed IT services can solve these common problems.
These are articles that talk about problems with the solutions.
So let's say those folks who started their journey searching "why is my roof leaking" discovered that their old shingle roof just has to go. It's shot. No chance of repairs. Done.
Part of their research will dive into different types of roofing systems: asphalt shingle, metal panels, clay tiles.
While vetting their options, they'll look up searches like, "problems with clay tiles."
It's a tough pill to swallow, but your clay tile roofs won't always be the best solution for them. Maybe they live in a northern climate with lots of snowfall, and a metal roof would be better. Let's be honest with them.
Besides, it's a good way to weed out non-fits for you.
Many of the problems they may have heard about clay roofs might in fact have easy solutions.
The same can be said for managed IT services. You know, not all prospects are a good fit for your services. To better help these bad-fit prospects weed themselves out, you can write an article on "5 Signs Outsourcing Managed IT services Is NOT Right for You."
By addressing problems, you have the opportunity to set the record straight and reduce the number of non-fit prospects from reaching out to you for help.
Right around the same time folks are researching problems with the solutions they're vetting, they're going to want to see direct comparisons of those solutions.
Which one is best for their situation?
How can they decide between them?
Here you have an opportunity to discuss each of their options, the pros and cons of each, how they compare in different categories, and which ones are better under different circumstances.
Just make sure to be as honest as possible in your assessment. And let readers know outright which of those products/services you sell. They should know if you have a particular bias.
If you do have a bias and they find out later, you'll lose that trust.
You may worry that writing an article listing all of your top competitors will steer prospects away from your business.
But let's be honest: they're going to find out about your competition anyway, if you write an article introducing them to all the vendors, they're at least reading the information on your site, and you have the first chance to convert them into a lead.