Clients often tell me that they understand the importance of writing articles and making presentations, but they hold back for fear of having nothing to say. Not an unreasonable fear, since we all sometimes sit, staring blankly at an empty screen, willing the Muse to enter and deliver a great idea… And moaning when the Muse just won’t come.
If you’d like to raise your professional profile, however, and if you’d like to prepare something suited for networking follow-up and for increasing your value to contacts and clients, you’ll find that it’s hard to beat generating good marketing content by writing and speaking. So, how to ensure that you’ll always have an idea for your upcoming blog or post or other piece of marketing content? Simple. Try these ideas.
- Keep a running list of questions you receive from clients and contacts. If you get a question often, know it’s a ripe topic for an article. Moreover, you’ll develop a second sense of what will interest your contacts over time, so you’ll be able to spot not just good questions that can lead to great content, but also the question behind the question, meaning the question that your client (or audience) didn’t even know to ask. These question lists are gold, since your article will meet your ideal client where he or she is.
- Listen on social media. What are your contacts discussing? What articles are they sharing? What are they complaining about? What topics related to your practice are trending? All of these indicate subjects that you might cover.
- Be a contrarian. What commonly accepted knowledge can you challenge? What myths or misunderstandings can you expose or correct? When you take a contrary point of view, you’ll catch your audience’s attention. Make a note when you disagree with a proposition that has some bearing on your practice or your clients, and keep a list that you can mine.
- Use a case study. Stories are one of the best communication tools going, because stories create engagement. There’s a drama and an arc of a story that draws readers in and keeps listeners on the edge of their seats. When you share a client’s experience (or a case study based on several clients), you’ll likely connect with your audience, and you’ll find it easier to get writing since you’re describing and explaining something that actually happened.
- Step onto your soapbox. What drives you crazy about what your clients or colleagues are doing? What aspect of the law relevant to your practice needs to be revised? When you share something that gets you going, you’ll find that some subset of your audience will cheer along with you and appreciate your point of view. Just be sure that you’re willing to stand by your comments, since taking a stand on anything runs a risk of alienating some members of your audience. When you use this approach carefully, that’s actually a positive effect, because those who don’t resonate with your message (at some level) aren’t your ideal clients.
Using any of these methods increases the chance that you’ll have something to say every time you sit down to write an article or a presentation. I often recommend that my clients keep this list of idea generators on their desks to remind them to watch for these opportunities. Most importantly, though, keep a document or a notebook (tangible or virtual) with your ideas. Every time you think, I should write about that, make a note of your idea and even add a few bullet points. For most of us, getting started is the hardest part of writing, and when you have a menu of ideas to choose from, you’ll find your content creation gets a lot more simple.