Once you start a blog for your MSP business, you might be fine writing articles for the first week or two. However, as time goes on, you’ll eventually spend more time staring at a blank document than you’d care to admit. You might be tempted to use paid tools that act as an infinite content idea engine to save you time and creative juices – only to find out that that would be completely unnecessary.
So is there any way to generate effective content ideas without using any tools? You can capture many creative content ideas on the fly – may it be during your morning podcast or from a conversation you overheard. You can go the mainstream route by taking inspiration from your clients and competitors. But you may also opt to use often untapped channels like your employees, industry leaders, news headlines, and your own data points.
Simply put, hundreds of MSP post the same content on the internet over and over again, without barely putting any spin. This is usually because MSPs are trying to sell to hundreds of clients on a budget and on a time crunch. Keep in mind that duplicate content is not restricted to blog posts; it refers to all of the written content of a site.
First and foremost, reposting content without proper attribution is downright plagiarism. Whether it be an exact replication or a near-duplicate, copying is stealing someone else’ idea and will cause you issues down the line.
In addition, duplicate content is bad for business. When you see a compelling ad copy or a well-crafted article, it’s tempting to use it everywhere – maybe even include it in an ebook that you’ll distribute to your leads. But why risk it? As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Remember that Google is watching. The search engine punishes sites that post too much duplicate content. Your website will be indexed, crawled, and once Google detects that you have too much published copied content, they may take manual action or wipe your rankings. You would be risking your internet presence and your business’ reputation.
Moreover, crawlers from search engines might get confused if they find the exact same text – including metadata tags and URL structures – on multiple sites. When it comes down to it, the search engine might lead the visitor to the wrong site. Hence, the ultimate goal of your content marketing strategy is to get unique content in front of more people.
If anything, duplicate content is fixable – no matter how big or small the issue is, it should be fixed. Either you put a spin of your own or set up a 301 redirect link.
Let’s say you want to write about ads management. There is a plethora of information out there on the internet already available on that subject. And that’s okay. Unlearn the concept that one idea = one topic.
Instead, use this formula: one idea = topic x angle.
You’ll be able to come up with dozens of content approaches, get as hypergranular on a main topic as possible, and fill up your editorial calendar.
The best source for content ideas is none other than your customers. Draw on their experience: ask them for feedback; know what motivates them and what their challenges are; and determine if your business strategies are working.
Listening is the most important skill in business – and let’s face it, even in life. Conducting customer interviews (outside of sales conversations) shows that you genuinely care about your clients. You can then use the notes you’ve gathered for case studies, podcasts, events, articles, and the like.
So go and have a cup of coffee with your audience. We guarantee that it pays back dividends.
If you can’t survey your customers, talk to the people closest to them, the ones having day-to-day conversations with them: your sales and marketing employees. So always tap into your teams’ experiences as they are the ones most familiar with typical client pain points.
For sales calls, in particular, clients are looking for quick solutions or bargaining for the lowest price of your service. Ask your sales team the most frequent questions they get from prospects and from there, map out content ideas in the various stages of the buyer’s journey.
Marketers, on the other hand, seek “thought leadership” when developing a content strategy. This tactic increases your company’s visibility in specialized expertise and thus buyers will be able to consume in-depth information about your niche.
Your support technicians can provide valuable insight into the direction your MSP could take. They regularly pool customer concerns from helpdesk tickets ranging from urgent problems, needs, and wish list items. As an MSP, you know that every concern has a root issue which could ripple across multiple clients. And so having a ticket data dump gives you an overview of trending issue types, as well as content ideas on-demand.
No matter how long you’ve been in the MSP space, you’ll run into new questions about your services all the time. Use those questions as fuel for possible blog posts or maybe a listicle about “Your FAQs Answered”.
Riding the bandwagon sometimes is nothing to be ashamed of. When you can, try to scan news headlines and choose some news stories that are relevant to your products or services.
When a topic is hot and trending, naturally people want to consume more information about it. Hence, building on fresh news headlines may gain you more traffic, especially from social media. This would also reinforce you as a leading IT partner in the MSP industry.
When you’ve been an MSP for such a long time, it’s easy to let competitive intelligence take the backseat. However, that shouldn’t be the case: You must always be aware of changes in the market and if you’re losing sight of your industry and customer’s needs.
Conducting competitive analysis includes, but is not limited to researching competitors’ sales and marketing tactics, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, and checking what their clients are saying. Use these insights to your advantage. Find out which areas you can outperform your competitors.
Moreover, you can create posts around topics that your competitors aren’t focusing on. You’ll end up with more unique content and thus attract new viewers. Don’t just copy your competitors — show your prospects what makes you different from the get-go. After all, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.
You can go beyond competitors and see what industry experts are staying, as well as read different perspectives on online forums. This way, you’ll have a pulse on both the trends and the long-standing rules and know-how in the field that you’re sure to make good use of.
The table of contents outlines a book’s chapters, sometimes even into subsections. If you’re looking for a goldmine of niche content, just turn to your bookshelves and pick out opportunities you could elaborate on. You could even share key takeaways that you learned from books.
Lastly, you don’t have to look far from your homebase – or should we say, homepage. Review the performance analytics of your blog and ask yourself the following questions:
Conducting a content audit means thoroughly comparing and contrasting each piece of content that you have. Afterwards, brainstorm ways to put a new spin on your content: repurpose, share a new perspective, or update your work.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Without a content creation plan, you might lose sight of your objectives. But let’s be clear: Creating effective content that converts leads into customers is time-consuming. It takes a hands-on approach – from strategizing, to implementing, a lot of waiting for results, and then assessment. It can sometimes take a year or so to see noticeable results.
Nevertheless, you have to start somewhere. You have to have an idea of how to get from point A to point B, and a comprehensive MSP content marketing plan can help you map out your goals. Let’s go over how to craft your marketing strategies, step-by-step.
Aside from overpowering your competitors, you have to win over your customers. What better way to do that than to know who they actually are – their interests, needs, fears, fantasies, daily routines, and whatnot? You need to know who you’re speaking to and where to find them.
Thus, the first step to your content marketing plan is creating a buyer persona. You have to know your customer like you know an old friend – or in other words, know them like the back of your hand. This semi-fictional character represents your target audience, i.e., a persona that will most likely respond positively to your promotions and benefit from your product.
This step requires extensive research, guesswork, and edits here and there. But you should always come out with a clear picture of the person you want to engage with — what do they do for a living? What do their days typically look like? What shows do they watch? Do they have hobbies? Use their voice, humor, and shared experiences to craft a piece that resonates with them.
Now that you know the persona that you’re writing to, you should have a vague idea of what questions your audience has and possible topics to write about. SEO research, also known as keyword research, shows you the search volume of short-tail and long-tail keywords and whether they are worth the investment.
The SMART acronym is a goal criteria that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Your content marketing plan should have a North Star, your definition of success. An example would be to increase organic traffic to your website by 20% by the end of the quarter. Another one could be reaching a certain number of inquiries, followers, and likes. Whatever it is, make sure that it is derived from your company goals.
But that’s not all. By setting your North Star, you can also determine benchmarks and short-term goals. You can look at each piece of content as a step towards your main objective. Maybe you could write a blog post, repurpose it so it can reach a wider audience that later becomes the attendees of a live webinar. The possibilities are endless.
Given that you’ve already created your buyer persona, remember that you’re producing content specifically for them. You should know which media format they consume and enjoy the most, but at the same time, don’t just stick to one format. Repurposing gives you new opportunities to spread your message far and wide.
A common mistake of creatives is that they keep their work under lock and key, waiting until they have a magnum opus to show the world. This is a big mistake. In a perfect world, hundreds of people will receive a notification saying that you posted something new and head straight to your website. In reality, however, it takes time and effort to promote your work.
As always, your promotion plan should be guided by your buyer persona. Value their time. Keep it real with them. Know what time they’re online; how often they want to see your promotions; what subject lines make them click. From there, entice them and guide them to your little turf on the internet.
Don’t forget to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing plan by tracking important metrics such as click-through rates, downloads, page views, acceptances to invitations, and the like. Check which pieces of content move your lead through the sales funnel.
When all is said and done, the cycle repeats: ideate, create, and promote. Content creation is an iterative process; it’s never “finished”. Once you’ve laid the groundwork of your content creation plan, repeat it over and over again until you reach your North Star – but if you’re gunning for more, no one’s stopping you.