The Blue Kite Blog

Should You Ever Write Off-Topic Content for Your Industry Blog?

By | August 31, 2015

One of the biggest challenges with content marketing is regularly coming up with engaging topics that keep readers interested.

If you’re a service business or a B2B company, it might be difficult to stay on topic – especially if your industry is relatively boring.

But, does that mean you should expand your topics to write about something outside of your niche?

That’s what Cheryl, a reader of this blog recently asked me.

Cheryl, along with another contractor, writes the blog for an HVAC company. Her co-worker has a passion for RVs and suggested she write about a particular type of Freon that’s used in RVs.

She felt that strayed too far from their core business because they don’t sell Freon for RVs. He believed that would help drive traffic to the website.

Cheryl wanted to know – who is right? Should they write off-topic content for their blog?

My answer?

They both were.

Although this particular example might not be the best fit for their HVAC blog, the concept of widening your topic base a bit has some merit. Let me explain…

Write Off-Topic Content Without Losing Readers

Although it’s incredibly important to have a tight focus for their blog that showcases their industry knowledge and answers customer questions, it can be valuable to expand the content a bit to make it more valuable and interesting to readers.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Write content related to your niche.

Let’s be honest. Many industry blogs are flat-out boring.

Even in the example above, it would be easy to see how an HVAC blog could get really boring, really fast.

Not only are there only so many things you can talk about related to heating and cooling industry, but also it’s not the kind of content that people would want to regularly read and share.

But, what if Cheryl and her team wrote about content that’s related to her niche without talking directly about heating and cooling?

If you think about their target audience, it’s likely homeowners in the community they serve. So, what kind of content can you provide to that audience that will be interesting and relevant to them even when they do NOT need an HVAC unit?

Here are some ideas:

  • Local events & activities – Talking about what’s happening in your local community. For instance, you could talk about “top ways to stay cool this summer” and offer up local events or attractions that play to this idea.
  • Home improvement – Because the target audience is homeowners, offer up content that can help them make their home a better place to live. This could include energy efficiency tips, how to save money on repairs or DIY tips.
  • Home building – Another key audience could be people who are building a home. How can you offer up content that will help them through that process? Maybe you could talk about how to work with installers, contractors and the like. Or, you can talk about top tips for surviving the process.

An Example of Writing Adjacent Content

 Empower employees to work from anywhere

Here’s another example. Our client, CRI, sells VOIP phone systems, video conferencing and other business communication products.

But, let’s think about their audience. They are business professionals, likely in the executive suite or in IT, operations or finance.

What do these people all have in common?

They want to improve their productivity, save time and money and possibly find ways to use technology to communicate better. And, they all use phones and technology to communicate every day.

So, we’ve written a number of blog posts that have to do with business communications and productivity – not just about VOIP phones. Here are a few examples:

Are any of these blog posts directly related to selling phone systems?

No.

But, these topics are relevant to their target audience and are related enough to our client’s brand that they make sense. This is called marketing sideways.

As a result of this approach, these blog posts have been some of the more popular pieces of content – both from the number of visits from email subscribers and from a social media sharing stand point.

These adjacent blog topics make for great top-of-funnel content. They get people to your site who might not be ready to buy from you just yet. But, if you keep providing content they value, you will become a trusted resource and a top-of-mind solution when the time comes to buy.

See how that works?

2. Tell stories.

If you read the Blue Kite Marketing blog on a regular basis, you know I like to tell stories. I share examples, ideas and experiences from my every day life. This is a fantastic way to inject personality into the blog without straying too far off topic.

Don’t be afraid to use personal stories, interests or ideas to illustrate your point. Using stories can also be a great way to allow your audience to get to know you better.

In Cheryl’s example above, this might be a way to weave in her coworker’s idea. Maybe they can tell a story about why this particular Freon works in RVs, but no longer in residential units. Perhaps there’s an anecdote or story that would help tie those topics together.

3. Write guest content.

Have a topic that you want to write about, but it’s not a fit for your audience?

Consider writing guest content for another blog.

This allows you to write about other content that you are passionate about, while keeping your blog focused on the topic at hand. This approach also allows you to gain links back to your website, which can be helpful for SEO purposes.

Don’t Stray Too Far Off Topic With Your Blog

Although it’s smart to add personality, flavor and unique insights to your blog, remember that your readers are coming to your site for a specific reason.

Be sure to stay focused with your content enough that readers know what to expect when they read your blog. Otherwise, you run this risk of losing readers and you won’t do a good job of building authority.

So, for instance, if this HVAC company starts blogging regularly about RV’s, it’s not going to be helpful or valuable to them.

But, finding a way to weave other ideas into their main topic of focus can help them attract and keep readers.

What do you think? Have you found ways to inject other topics or ideas into your industry blog?