A classic business mistake is failing to understand who your prospect is, especially now that niche marketing is critical to success in an overly competitive environment. The same is true for commercial blogging when it comes to developing a unique content strategy.
Under the classical approach to developing a unique selling proposition, you would start by examining your product/service for a unique element that would separate you from the competition. And while differentiating your offer from what others are providing is the goal, it’s no longer the starting point.
When it comes to business blogging, you are seeking an audience before you seek the sale, and frankly, starting with the needs of the audience is essential to all forms of modern marketing. Assuming that what you offer, or even what your competitors offer, is in tune with the current needs of the audience is an invitation for disaster and an adversary of innovation.
How do you figure out what people want? Here are some ideas.
If you have an existing business, the most important thing you can do is to talk to past and existing clients and customers. Don’t come in with pre-existing notions… listen.
You can perform surveys, or make a point to enter into dialogue whenever you have the opportunity. Pay particular attention to complaints—dissatisfaction is the starting point for innovative business moves.
If you’re starting a new business, or hoping to make the blog itself into an income-producing venture, you can still survey people and gather valuable market intelligence, if you start with search engine keyword research.
2. Keyword Research
Search engine keyword research can be incredibly enlightening. You can observe both real-time trends and the words people are using to seek out more information.
Don’t stop with the keywords though. Follow the path into the search engine results, and check out the web sites, forums, and blogs that you find. You’re not doing competitive analysis yet—you’re looking for the unanswered questions and the unfulfilled needs of the audience.
Once you hone in on a promising angle, you may want to perform a low cost survey using tools like the Ask Database combined with low-cost pay-per-click ads in the search engines. Be careful about the way you frame questions, as your own preconceived notions may influence the answers and keep a real gem of an opportunity from coming to light.
3. Demographic and Industry Trends
It pays to pay attention to what’s going on in your industry or niche, as well as related fields from which you can swipe applicable approaches that are being missed by your direct competition. You’ve got to be acutely aware of where things are and where they’re going.
Sometimes you can identify seemingly unrelated trends, combine them, and enjoy rapid success. Other times, you can be sufficiently ahead of the curve and end up a leader in your category while everyone else tries to play catch up.
No matter how many people you ask or how many trends you identify, no one is going to tell you the answer. The fact is, people don’t know what they want. It’s up to you to figure it out for them and deliver.
You’ve got to take all the data you collect, and infer from it a strategy. That’s the way it is in business, and that’s the way it is in blogging.
Think of yourself as a niche magazine publisher whose biggest advertiser is your business. When it comes to information marketing, selling people on your content first is the key to selling them later on your product or service.