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'The Big 5' best business blog topics that drive traffic, leads, and sales (+ video)

To win over your ideal buyers in the digital age, you must become the #1 trusted resource in your space. The Big 5 blog topics will help you get there. If you're smart enough to write about them, of course.

'The Big 5' best business blog topics that drive traffic, leads, and sales (+ video) Blog Feature

Marcus Sheridan

Keynote Speaker, Author & Partner, Author of ’They Ask You Answer”, Presented 250+ Sales, Marketing, & Communication Workshops Worldwide

September 29th, 2020 min read

What are the best business blog topics?

What are The Big 5 [v3]

Let's dig into the details, shall we?

Whether you call it content marketing, inbound marketing, digital marketing, or just plain ol' business blogging, one of the most common questions I get asked is:

"Marcus, what the heck should our business be writing blogs about? I don't want us to publish useless fluff. We need to grow our business, and we believe the right content can help us do that."

First of all, the right content can help you do just that, no matter your industry. Second, there is a lot of "useless fluff" being published these days under the mantle of "content marketing." The kind of content that may give you quick boosts in traffic but, ultimately, does nothing to increase your bottom line or help your sales team reach their revenue goals. 

If you've read my book, They Ask, You Answeryou know that my best piece of advice when I'm asked this question is to publish articles answering every question your customers ask — even if makes you uncomfortable. (Actually, especially if it makes you uncomfortable.) If your customers have questions they'd like to know about your products and services, answer them in blog articles.

When you do that with regularity and consistency, you'll quickly establish yourself as the #1 most trusted resource in your space. And today, that is the key to winning over your more modern, sophisticated, internet-enabled buyers.

Yes, it really is that simple.

🔎 Related: What is They Ask, You Answer?

However, the scope of questions your customers will potentially ask you is limitless. So, after some time of following the principles of They Ask, You Answer for my own business — River Pools and Spas — as well as with hundreds of other clients, I decided to review the data to see if there were any patterns or trends I could identify in the content being published that directly correlated into traffic, leads, and sales. 

The three most critical metrics for any business with a digital sales and marketing strategy. 

Lo and behold, I found five specific blog categories — which we now call The Big 5 — that consistently outperformed every other blog topic out there, regardless of what industry happened to be publishing them.

That's right, The Big 5 blog topics were completely industry-agnostic in their ability to drive remarkable growth for companies who answered questions within those categories thoroughly and honestly. 

So, what are they? You may be surprised at how deceptively simple they are:

  1. Cost and pricing
  2. Comparisons
  3. Problems (theirs and yours)
  4. Best of lists (best in class, best practices)
  5. Reviews

The Big 5 blog topics above are guaranteed to drive you traffic, leads, and sales for your company. If you're smart enough to write about them, that is. 

Now, let's dive into each one in more detail. For each of The Big 5 categories below, I'll show you examples from IMPACT's own content archives, so you can see how to tackle sometimes complex answers in your own business blog articles.

1. Cost

When was the last time you went online to research a product or service before you made a purchase? At minimum, within the last six months, right?

Maybe you bought a new boat for the family, hired some kind of contractor, or were tasked with finding a new IT service provider for your company. At any point in your research did you ask how much that thing costs?

If you're like 99.9% of internet searchers out there, yeah, you did. But, I'll bet at some point, you were on a company's website looking for information about costs, but couldn't find clear answers.

🔎 Related: How to write an all-star, effective cost blog article

And when you couldn't find those answers, how did you feel about that company?

It sure didn't help your confidence in them, did it?

Too many companies don't want to talk about costs on their website, and they're for all the wrong reasons. These might even be the reasons your company hasn't written about costs yet.

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?

  • But our product/services are custom designed for individual situations. 
  • But then our competitors would know what we're charging.
  • But we might scare prospects away before we can explain the costs to them.

I see where you're coming from. I was once there too. But let's take a look at these reasons one by one.

Our product/services are custom-designed to individual situations

I get it, each project you do is different. Many factors influence the final costs. Prices can vary. The best short answer you've got to how much you charge is: "Well, it depends."

We can do better. The right answer is to write about the factors that influence costs and at least give a range of possible rates. It's that simple. 

But then our competitors would know what we're charging

Do they not already? Are they totally clueless? Go look at their website. Are they discussing costs? If so, you better catch up. If not, it's your chance to get ahead of them. 

It might scare away prospects before we can explain the reasons

Not answering cost questions will drive more people away as they have to go elsewhere for answers. You have a much better shot at getting someone to stick around just by answering their most pressing questions. 

Honesty fosters trust. And people want to do business with businesses they can trust. Because, without trust, your business will fail, no matter the industry.

Examples of cost articles from IMPACT

2. Problems

There are two major types of problems articles you should be writing about:

  1. Their problems
  2. Your problems

Their problems

Whatever product or service you sell, it is the solution to a problem your prospects are experiencing, isn't it?

In many cases, these folks only know the symptoms of their problems and may not have any clue whatsoever that you have the solution. Write content aimed at the symptoms of their problems and inform them of their options.

Examples

If you're a roofing contractor, you can answer questions like, "Why is my roof leaking." 

You can write articles about how to check for leaks, how to assess water damage, and reasons they may want to talk to a roofing contractor.

They have a problem: a leaky roof. 

You have solutions: a roof assessment.

If you're a managed IT services provider, your audience may be searching online for solutions to problems like:

"How can I ensure continuous monitoring of my network and phone systems?" or "How can I save money by reducing the size of my IT department?"

Again, your audience is looking for ways to optimize their IT department while cutting costs. You can write articles demonstrating how outsourcing managed IT services can solve these common problems.

Your problems

These are articles that talk about problems with the solutions.

So, let's say those folks who started their journey searching "why is my roof leaking" discovered that their old shingle roof just has to go. It's shot. No chance of repairs. Done. Part of their research will dive into different types of roofing systems: asphalt shingle, metal panels, clay tiles.

While vetting their options, they'll look up searches like, "problems with clay tiles."

🔎 Related: How to write effective 'problems' articles

It's a tough pill to swallow, but your clay tile roofs won't always be the best solution for them. Maybe they live in a northern climate with lots of snowfall, and a metal roof would be better. Let's be honest with them.

Besides, it's a good way to weed out non-fits for you. 

Many of the problems they may have heard about clay roofs might in fact have easy solutions.

The same can be said for managed IT services. You know, not all prospects are a good fit for your services. To better help these bad-fit prospects weed themselves out, you can write an article on "5 Signs Outsourcing Managed IT services Is NOT Right for You."

By addressing problems, you have the opportunity to set the record straight and reduce the number of non-fit prospects from reaching out to you for help.

Examples of problems articles from IMPACT

3. Comparisons

Right around the same time folks are researching problems with the solutions they're vetting, they're going to want to see direct comparisons of those solutions.

Which one is best for their situation?

How can they decide between them?

Here you have an opportunity to discuss each of their options, the pros and cons of each, how they compare in different categories, and which ones are better under different circumstances.

🔎 Related: How to write an effective comparisons article

Just make sure to be as honest as possible in your assessment. And let readers know outright which of those products/services you sell. They should know  if you have a particular bias.

If you do have a bias and they find out later, you'll lose that trust.

Examples of comparisons articles from IMPACT

4. "Best of" lists

During that time you were researching your latest big purchase, did you use words like best or top as part of your search terms? Most likely, right? It's also one of the most common ways people search. 

🔎 Related: 24 jaw-dropping blog post examples you'll want to copy ASAP

We want to put all of our options on a spectrum from worst to best and carefully review those on the far right of the spectrum. We start at the farthest right point on the spectrum and walk backwards until we find what's best for us.

There are a couple key "best of" article topics you should write about:

Best competitors

Let's say your business helps other businesses solve their freight and logistics shipping needs and you provide managed transportation services for your clients.

These folks may already realize they need help managing their freight solutions and are interested in a list of the best vendors.

How do you think they will search for businesses of your kind?

They'll probably search something exactly like: "Best managed transportation companies"

You may worry that writing an article listing all of your top competitors will steer prospects away from your business.

But let's be honest: they're going to find out about your competition anyway, if you write an article introducing them to all the vendors, they're at least reading the information on your site, and you have the first chance to convert them into a lead.

🔎 Related: How to write about your competitors on your website

Best in class

Whether you're a retailer or SaaS company of any kind, writing best of lists will become your bread and butter.

Let's say you sell camping equipment. Whether as a local business or an e-commerce site, it doesn't matter; you could write best of articles until you're old and grey. Every line of product you sell, you can write best of lists for.

And, you can get as broad or granular as you want.

  • Best tents
  • Best tents under $100
  • Best tents for families
  • Best tents for winter camping
  • Best tents for winter camping at high elevations

And don't get too caught up on using the word best. There's lots of other superlative adjectives people would use to search:

  • Warmest tents
  • Most durable tents
  • Easiest tent to clean
  • Most expensive tent
  • Quickest tent to setup
  • Highest rated tents

Best practices

Do you have teachable moments related to the products or services you sell? How can people get the results they desire from using your product.

Let's continue to pretend we sell camping equipment. Our prospects would likely want to know things like:

  • Best practices for planning a camping trip
  • Best practices for starting a fire 
  • Best practices for catching salmon
  • Best practices for cleaning a salmon

And in each of those article topics, you've got a whole bunch of products you can introduce.

Planning a camping trip? You'll need a tent.

Starting a fire? You'll need a flint or a fire starter kit.

Fishing? You'll need some tackle, poles, waders, fillet knives, etc.

Examples of "best of" articles from IMPACT

5. Reviews

As buyers are considering making a purchase, they often want to know if those that shopped before them are delighted by their final choice or have remorse.

They want to know how others feel about the purchases they made. If real people are raving about the purchase, they're more likely to buy. If others are complaining about the purchase, they may avoid it.

🔎 Related: 24 world-class blog post examples you'll want to copy ASAP

People love to crowd source opinions. If you can write honest reviews of the products you sell (and even don't sell), you'll connect with more prospects looking for help making purchases. 

Examples of review articles from IMPACT

Where should we start with The Big 5?

According to IMPACT Lead Content Marketing Trainer Kevin Phillips, there are two options to getting started with The Big 5

  • Whatever your ideal buyers are asking the most. In this scenario, you'd run a content brainstorm with your sales team, asking them which of the questions they're getting answered the most often. (Learn more about how we do this at IMPACT using the revenue team model.) Typically, when you start with this strategy, you'll be writing at the bottom of the funnel first; answering questions that are geared toward educating more sales-ready buyers, rather than more top of the funnel topics.
  • You can start by writing about cost. According to Kevin, “You should get ‘cost’ content out there as fast as possible because cost is one question that’s on everyone’s mind.” 

Kevin also says that the least important of The Big 5 to get started with is reviews. Reviews still matter, but they won't drive that immediate needle movement you're looking for. And, in some industries, reviews may not matter as much as they would in others.

The key to keep in mind is that, even though your instinct may be to create content to drive traffic first, instead you should initially be creating blog content that enables sales. Think about it this way — growing traffic is important, but also a long-term play in many ways, especially with more competitive keywords.

However, if you go into content creation mode with a sales-first mindset, a piece you publish today could be used immediately to close a deal tomorrow. 

What if we still need help building and executing a content strategy?

From building a content strategy to actually just sitting down and writing a blog article, getting down to business with The Big 5 can be a daunting task. (We know this from experience!)

Depending on where you are with the sophistication and understanding of how to create content to drive traffic, leads, and sales in the digital age, one, some, or all of the following resources should be able to help:

Finally, if you're looking for more than those self-service, self-guided training resources, we also offer content coaching and consulting for growth-focused businesses who are ready to embrace a proven digital sales and marketing strategy, with The Big 5 right at the center.

Digital Sales & Marketing For Today's Modern Buyer - Free IMPACT+ Course

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