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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve talked about creating a marketing strategy for your business.  So far I’ve covered 3 steps to creating a marketing plan and identifying what problem your business solves.

Today we are going to talk about what question your business answers.  This is related to the types of problems your business solves but it is broader and covers more of the educational aspects.

So, for example, if you have a plumbing business and you are trying to think of topics to include in your content strategy, you can talk about the types of services you offer, the problems that you solve.  This is all information that a potential customer might need to know to understand why your service is the best choice for them.

Speaking about plumbing, I was just reading about the situation in Flint, Michigan and their water supply.  I think almost everyone is aware that in 2014,[1] there were dangerous levels of lead[2] found in the tap water.  There were several things that played a role leading to this: the switching of the water source, the lack of treatment of the water, and the old lead pipes going to the homes themselves that the water leached from.  Part of the challenge for government officials was explaining the factors and the problems involved because citizens had to be part of the solution.

The more complex the product or service you offer, the more important it is to explain the issues related to your industry.

The choices are: explain what you do or be prepared to compete on price alone. There is no other alternative.  Fortunately, businesses are able to communicate this information easily through content marketing.  This includes articles, informative images, videos, and audio.

The more complex the product or service you offer, the more important it is to explain the issues related to your industry.

The choices are: explain what you do or be prepared to compete on price alone. There is no other alternative.  Fortunately, businesses are able to communicate this information easily through content marketing.  This includes articles, informative images, videos, and audio.

The best way to determine what those questions are is simply by paying attention to the questions you are asked. Keep a notebook of questions that come up during phone calls or conversations with customers.  What are the things that you tell people over and over again?

I have a lot of articles related to domain registrations, not because I focus on selling registrations, but because that is something that has come up frequently over the years: people forgetting to renew their registrations and losing them to a domain squatter, domains being held hostage by a sketchy domain or hosting provider, or being outright hijacked.

Even though the problem my business solves does not involve domain registration, since we develop, manage, and promote websites, having control and proper security on a business’s domain is a top priority. Website promotion doesn’t do any good if those urls are directed somewhere else.

So even if it isn’t something you specifically offer, if there is an issue that impacts what you do, then include that in your potential list of topics.

The second way to discover questions people are asking is to simply look at the questions people use to reach your web site.

This used to be one of the most valuable reports for content marketing. Server statistic programs such as AWstats and Google’s own Analytics service would display the search queries, the words a site visitor entered into the search bar, to reach your site.

However, several years ago, search engines began to encrypt those queries, blocking their display in site analytics, if the user was logged into that search engine. Now only a fraction of search keywords display in your site analytics . . . But use what you have.

The third way to discover the types of questions people are asking is by looking at the suggested search phrases that Google provides with almost every search. There are three places this can be easily found: the list of related searches that displays at the bottom of the search results pages, the related questions that sometimes appear in search results, and in suggested searches that display as you being to type your query into Google’s search bar.

The fourth way you can find the questions your potential customers are asking is by looking at comments and questions asked on forums and social media. Quora is a general question and answer site, but depending on your type of business and where you operate, this might be in topical or special interest forums, in the comments of a popular blog related to your industry, or in a Facebook or LinkedIn group.

This leads to the topic of next week’s article, which is identifying the people you serve. Stay tuned.

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Notes:

[1] Cedric Taylor, “Flint’s Water Is Now Safe to Drink – but the Crisis Has Corroded Residents’ Trust in Government,” CityMetric, last modified May 16, 2018, accessed January 9, 2019, https://www.citymetric.com/politics/flint-s-water-now-safe-drink-crisis-has-corroded-residents-trust-government-3895.

[2] Sara Ganim and Linh Tran, “How Flint, Michigan’s Tap Water Became Toxic – CNN,” CNN, last modified January 13, 2016, accessed January 9, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/index.html.

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