Questions are a staple ingredient of effective content. Whether you’re answering customers’ questions or asking questions of your industry, they are the key to success. Blog posts, ebook, infographics, podcasts and promotional videos. All about questions.
Your target audience and your loyal customers all have pain points. They have questions that need answering all the time. But also, consider this: you can never become a thought leader in your industry unless you are also asking questions yourself.
How do I know what questions to answer?
Make a list.
Write down every question your customers are asking you. Do a little research and see what questions customers are also asking about your industry. Ask your colleagues and employees to write down lists too. What are the questions that we keep getting asked?
Run a content audit.
Look at all the content you already own. Create a spreadsheet of everything you’ve ever produced, from blog posts, ebooks and white papers to videos and podcasts.
Make a list of every question they answer. There may be some it answers that you hadn’t thought of. Note those down too. Has each question, each pain point, been dealt with effectively? Could it be done differently? In another format? My article The 3 Ways to Produce Content When You Have Zero Ideas covers re-shaping pre-existing content.
Schedule a content audit every 3, 6 or 12 months.
This is part of your content audit. Using programmes like Google Analytics and HubSpot, monitor how people are engaging with your content; your answers. Are they leaving comments? These will often be questions. Some as simple as ‘How do I contact you?’
All questions need an answer and they all add to the conversation you’re building with your audience.
How do I know what questions to ask?
This can be a little more tricky. But, to shape your company, as well as your industry, to become a thought leader among very few thought leaders, you need to ask questions.
A lot of this comes down to challenging what you see around you. Not accepting that there is only one way to do something. Bill Gates once said as I’m sure you know, ‘I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it.’
Is there a more efficient way of doing what you’re doing? Is there only a certain type of person you employ? Do you not agree with what is being done in your industry? The most successful people are those who have an opinion, especially in the content they’re putting out.
Go back to your mission statement. Read it out loud. That is something you firmly believe in, that gets you out of bed in the morning and to your desk, even in deepest winter. It’s what drives your vision, what you pitch to people when they don’t know or don’t quite believe in what you’re doing.
There are challenges in that statement, actual conflict, which means there are questions too. But then, you should also be asking questions of your mission statement. Bend it and break it and come up with a new one in time if you have to. Keep moving forward. If you’re not questioning things periodically, then you are not properly engaging with them.
By asking questions you are achieving two very important goals:
- You’re challenging and reshaping your environment. You’re becoming an innovator.
- You’re setting yourself up as someone who, in the eyes of the customer, can be trusted. Who is authentic. Who will redefine strategies when things aren’t going well, who will actually engage with what they want, and understand that what they want is likely to, at some point, change. Just like you.