In second grade we learned about Who, What, Where, When, and Why. I remember we were given short stories to dissect and then it was up to us to identify all the different parts.
Who was the subject?
What was the basic plot?
Why was it happening? Etc.
It was a simple exercise even back then. Who knew I’d still be using it today as part of our link building services?
It may sound silly, but using the same 5 Ws you were taught in elementary school can actually help you brainstorm a boatload of linkbuilding ideas in a short amount of time. It can even help you build a solid pitch for each.
Here’s how I do it.
Every time I’m handed a new website or a new page to promote and build links to, I ask myself five questions:
WHO is going to find this content valuable?
WHAT is the value for them?
WHERE are these people?
WHEN is the best time to approach them?
WHY Why am I approaching them?
I like to do a little research on the content topic before I get started to make sure that I have a solid grasp of what I am trying to pitch. If you don’t know your product well, you’ll miss out on some great ideas.
Confident in my knowledge of the topic, I begin to flesh everything out in a spider diagram. I am a visual person so mapping it out on paper is a big help to me. But, you can organize your thoughts and ideas any way you’d like, whether it’s in an Excel Spreadsheet, a simple list, or using an online mind mapping tool.
Next, I begin to brainstorm. I start by making the central bubble the topic of the page, and then begin branching off the topic with my whos. And who can encompass any number of things:
- Websites /online communities
- Geographical communities (towns, cities)
- Clubs/special interest groups
Since this is only the first step in the brainstorm process, be liberal with your ideas. You’ll have time to refine them later as you dive further into the process. The more ideas that you generate here, the more complete plans you’ll come out with at the end.
Next, for each of my whos (this is starting to sound like Dr. Seuss) I need to figure out the what. The what is the value your pitch provides for the person reading. This is going to help determine my pitching angle. Here, I need to be able to answer the following questions:
- How is sharing this content with my prospects going to make their lives easier/better/more convenient?
- What within the content should compel them to actually share the content with their audience?
If I can’t answer these questions, I don’t have a pitch. And if I don’t have a pitch, I don’t get the link. So, it’s really important to nail down exactly what the value is that we are offering our prospects.
For me, the where is the fun part. Now that I know my general targets… where can I find them? Here, you can get a little creative. The where may include places like:
- Social Media
- Local News
- Clubs and networking events
- Heck… even direct mail
Brainstorm as many ideas as possible. When evaluating websites and other online methods be sure to check out Joe’s 6 Minute Power Link Prospect audit to make the process go faster.
Run a couple internet searches to find out if there are events that you can time your link building campaigns around. Is there a national or regional holiday related to your content? Are there any conferences or events that your whos might attend? A little research in this department can go a long way in creating an effective link building campaign.
For me, this can be the trickiest part.
What would you say if the person you were pitching asked why you were reaching out to them? Would you have an answer? One that doesn’t out you as an Internet marketer, violate a bunch of NDAs and make you sound a little needy?
If not, you’re in trouble.
You need to have a clear, undeniable reason for why you are reaching out to someone to make your most effective pitch possible. Your why should come from your what – the value that you are offering them. Usually when I write my first correspondence, I want to include the why. “I am reaching out to you because” or “I thought your readers might enjoy this because” – If your prospects don’t get why you are contacting them, why would be feel compelled to look at the content or even respond?
The End Product:
Bringing together all the elements of the 5 Ws leaves you with a content marketing plan complete with a list of different pitch angles and communities to reach out to, the best times to reach out to them, and where best to find them. With your plan in hand you can outline an effective first pitch that will hopefully get you lots of links.
This is how I brainstorm my content marketing ideas. How do you manage the brainstorming process? I’d love to hear!