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A successful content strategy is a process for your business, not just another project for your marketing team. With that being the case, content development can be a daunting challenge without knowing where to begin. You are already the expert when it comes to your product or service and have all the information you need to develop valuable pieces of content for your audiences, you just need to know where to look.

These seven ways can help you uncover compelling sources for content without breaking the bank or taxing your already stretched thin staff.

  1. Brainstorm: Sit down and think of all the possible topics for your product or service. What do people frequently ask about? Think about your sales process and what new leads and those unfamiliar with your product or service would want to know first. Remember, it's not what YOU want them to know. You need to provide the answers to questions they are looking for to solve their pain points or needs. Each topic or question you come up with could be used as a post for your blog or a chapter for an ebook. 
  2. Keywords: Make a list of all the words and phrases you believe would be helpful to someone searching for what your product or service provides. Research those phrases using keyword discovery tools like Google Trends, Ubersuggest or MergeWords. These sites can help you uncover topics by seeing how people are researching, what related words or phrases are commonly used and which are currently trending in user searches.  
  3. Listen: Sit down with your sales, customer service or support teams and ask them what questions they receive the most from prospects and customers. You can turn their responses into a FAQ page or posts to help educate your audience on commonly searched topics. 
  4. Examine web analytics: If you currently have web analytics like Google Analytics on your website, take time to really examine the data. Look at what existing content is getting the most visits and where people are spending their time per visit. If your site has a search field users can enter queries, pull the list of keyword or search terms they use. This data can help you discover missing or hard to find content topics on your site that your visitors find valuable to their research. 
  5. Competition: Take a look at your competitors' sites to see what kind of content they are providing (or not) and how they are leveraging (or not) social networks, ebooks, landing pages and other digital marketing strategies. There are tools available to help you collect more competitive intel, like Spyfu and SEMrush. Both services offer limited free tools with paid upgrades for more detailed information on your how your competitors are ranking for organic keywords and paid keywords. This insight can help you create topics with targeted keywords and seize opportunities to capitalize on valuable keywords your competitors are weakest in. 
  6. Engage with customers: With the right questions, customer surveys can serve as a powerful content research tool. Examine your CRM database to discover common demographic and buying-behavior traits your most valuable customers share and ask to interview them for more insight on what is important to them and why they continue to buy from you. Utilize services like SurveyMonkey or have your customer service department make calls to gather feedback on what your customers like, don't like and why they became customers.
  7. Use existing material: The phrase, "don't reinvent the wheel", definitely applies to the content creation process. Browse through your existing webpages, manuals, brochures and other collateral material for usable information you can easily transform into a blog, ebook, slide presentation or other piece of valuable content. Recycle and repurpose all your content as much as possible to keep the demand on your development team low while maximizing value. 

Keep a spreadsheet of all your topics and keywords developed in your research process. Designate a column to help you keep track of how you are utilizing each and who that piece is targeted to reaching-a new lead, qualified prospect or customer. Having a grasp on what content you already have and which pieces you want to create is half the battle with any content strategy. You can choose to implement those pieces on your own or use outside services like Aztek, to help you develop and manage all aspects of your content strategy.