You aren’t spending hours on quality blog posts and Medium articles for passion alone. Whether it’s attracting people to your product, racking up dollars on Medium, or selling your services, there’s something in it for you.
Don’t be ashamed of your agenda. We all have one. If you don’t, you need to get one.
Putting out helpful articles is how I grow my business. Even with a small (yet growing) audience, I consistently draw new client inquiries and email subscribers from my content marketing efforts.
That’s the thing though, even if we all have an agenda, the secret to better articles is your reader not sensing you’re pushing one. Think of it like writing purely for SEO. It’s painfully obvious (and painful to read) if you’re chasing keywords at the expense of true value for the reader.
Here’s a simple checklist for putting out helpful b2b articles that push your agenda without coming across like sales collateral. Ask yourself these three questions before hitting publish on your next post.
Question 1: Does this solve a problem?
Help the people you want to buy from you. Share your expertise, earn their trust, and get them into your community. Focus your writing on solving problems for this specific group of people. If you solve enough of their problems, they’ll give you money.
How do you know what articles to write? Search Google, dig into SEMRush, or use Ubersuggest to find the phrases people use when searching for answers to their problems. You can take a couple of different approaches here to decide which article to write:
- High relevance and low competition – This approach means that you find a highly relevant question people are asking, but there’s not a lot of traffic because the topic is very niche-specific. If you go this route, make sure there is low competition for the phrase so you can rank in search engines. This is a good strategy for people who have little to no social media audience to promote their work to so they’ll be dependent on search traffic.
- Solve the biggest problems – The other approach is to write about the biggest problems your buyer faces. These phrases are going to be highly competitive in search engines, so you have to be good at promoting your work to help the right people find it if you take this approach. You can push paid traffic from Google, promote it on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, and syndicate it to Medium to get people to your article. Use this strategy if you have a large social media following or established audience on Medium to leverage.
I personally like to use a combination of the two. I find a balanced mix lays a more solid foundation for your business. Have multiple paths to your work and answer both the big questions and the niche-specific ones.
Question 2: Would I send this to a friend?
If a friend came to you with the problem you’re trying to solve in your article, would you forward the article to them? If it’s stuffed with keywords and vague jargon, probably not. You’d write something simple and casual to a friend. Do the same in your blog posts and Medium articles.
Most b2b articles read like industry jargon lists. Nobody wants to read that crap. B2B buyers are humans, just like you. Make your articles more enjoyable for a human to read and you’ll get more readers. Here are a few simple tips:
- Write like you talk
- Cut all jargon.
- Slang is ok.
- Use contractions.
- You can end a sentence with it, or start a sentence with and or but.
An easy hack is to write each article for a specific friend, client, or customer. Keep them in mind as you craft the full article and send it to them when you’re finished. I guarantee your blog post will come out sounding casual and genuine. The added benefit is your friend or client will appreciate the helpful article.
Question 3: Is it actionable?
If people walk away from your posts ready to execute, they’ll read more of your writing. Even great writers like Seth Godin lose my attention. Seth Godin is brilliant, but his writing isn’t always actionable. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be half the writer that Seth Godin is, but I can provide more actionable posts that give people what they need to act that moment.
For us decent writers, I think providing actionable articles is where we can win. Focus on your area of expertise and help people put your knowledge to work in their business. Action speaks louder than words, so make sure your words help people take action.
What to do now (like, right now).
I want you to act while the information above is hot, but you need to lay the foundation of your content marketing strategy before you get into individual posts. Here are the three steps you should take right now:
- Set a goal – The purpose of marketing is to move you toward a business goal. Define what putting out badass articles is going to help you achieve. Tie your content efforts to a specific and measurable business goal.
- Write a content manifesto – My articles are where b2b, SaaS, and service businesses learn to grow their business through productization, branding, and marketing tips. That’s my content manifesto, what’s yours?
- Build a schedule – Consistency yields results. You won’t see a return unless you’re putting out regular content for a specific group of people. This will only happen if you develop a schedule for content production and delivery. I think every one of us needs to schedule time for the technician and entrepreneur in our daily work life.
Lay the foundation and get to work, but before you hit publish on that post, ask yourself the three above questions.
Hey, I’m Andrew Holliday, I help b2b, SaaS, and service companies grow. I send a free tip every Friday that will help you grow your business. You can grab that here.