What Should VARs Write About? How To Choose The Best Content Marketing Topics

Three sources of great ideas for topics that will resonate with your customers.

By: Abby Sorensen, Chief Editor for Software Executive Magazine and Executive Editor for Channel Executive Magazine

You’ve done the hard part: you’ve decided content marketing is the right investment to meet your demand gen and brand awareness goals. Congrats!

Your sales team is excited for leads to start rolling in. Everyone from your best helpdesk tech to your office manager has volunteered as subject matter experts ready to help create content. Your end users can’t wait for the help you’ll be sending their way.

Now for the really hard part: what should you write about?

It’s one of the most common questions asked regardless of industry, company size, position in the market, or level of experience with content marketing.

Understand Why You’re Creating Content In The First Place

Before you decide what to write about, you’ll need to understand the why for your content marketing. Why are you investing in content marketing? Your answer can’t be as simple as “because my vendor has MDF incentives for me to spend” or “because other solutions providers are doing it.” The goal of your content should be to make life easier for technology end users. Period.

Along the way, content marketing can help you build awareness, fill your funnel with new prospects, and educate end users. You’ll want to write your content for prospects that have never outsourced IT in the past.

If the “why” behind your content marketing strategy is to convert leads to closed sales, then you might be frustrated by your results. Good content builds awareness and trust. It educates. It gives your sales team insight into where prospects are in their buyer’s journey.

Content marketing – especially content that is overly promotional and/or only talks about your strengths – does not magically shorten your sales cycle.

Once you can clearly explain the why behind your content marketing strategy, then you can start understanding what to write about, how to write it, and who to write it for.

3 Sources Of Great Content Ideas

Let’s fast forward and assume that your content strategy is sound and that you’re on the same page with your sales team. Now what? How do you know what message your content should convey?

Here are a few ways to answer the “What should we write about?” question.

Primary research. You can do this internally using your database of customers and prospects. Or you can partner with a third-party research firm for custom research. Make sure you’re gathering data from a large, diverse sample size of the right titles at the right companies in the right verticals. If you only sell into the retail space, then don’t worry about what healthcare customers want to see in content. Make sure you’re asking questions that are specific, have the right context, and are formatted in a way that will give you accurate data to analyze.

End user events. What topics are on the agenda at conferences that end users attend? Topics that are interesting to you as a solutions provider might not resonate with end users. Content needs to help your customer, not sell your services.

Your customers. Your customers are the single best source of insight when you’re deciding what kind of content to create. Get on the phone with your customers. Go see them in person. Survey them. Follow what they’re posting on LinkedIn. Ask your sales colleagues, techs, and anyone else who is in a customer-facing role what they’re hearing from customers. And don’t just talk to your most engaged customers or the ones with the deepest pockets – make sure you get a representative sample of customers to give feedback.

Dig Deep To Know Your Customers

Getting to know your customers is harder than you might think. First, you’ll need to classify customer companies into very granular segments. From there, spell out which titles/job functions are most important to influence at the companies you want to reach. Then, ask yourself questions like these, and if you don’t know the answers, go talk to your customers to find them.

  • What beliefs guide their buying decisions?
  • How do they measure success?
  • What are their biggest problems, and what are the biggest challenges to solving these problems?
  • What can you teach them about their business that can help solve those problems?
  • What slants within a particular theme will be most helpful to your customers?

You’ll need to understand your customers in a much deeper way than how they interact with hardware, software, and services. A true understanding of your customers is the best way to know what to write about.