20 Jul 2015
5 Reliable Sources Of Inspiration For B2B Content

5 Reliable Sources Of Inspiration For B2B Content

Producing a great piece of content for your B2B audience is difficult enough. Repeating the trick consistently is a serious challenge for any business. The good news is you’re not alone. Annual research produced by the Content Marketing Institute found ‘Producing Engaging Content’ was the No.1 concern of B2B content marketers in Australia, the US and the UK.

Unfortunately there isn’t a magic trick to make this problem go away. However, a little organisation and a lot of listening will help minimise your stress levels. They will also improve the consistency of your content. So what do you need to do?

Let’s start at the beginning. Your business blog should be the engine driving your content strategy. If you’re blogging every day, or even every week, it’s likely to be your most frequent form of communication with customers and prospects. Once you’ve found your blogging rhythm, it will generate a continuous stream of content ideas that can be translated into other formats.

Of course coming up with good ideas for new content this frequently is daunting, which is why you need to harness the power of the collective. You’re surrounded by inspiration for B2B content but this is where getting organised and listening comes in. Here are five sources that will help you generate quality content ideas at scale:

Customers

The primary goal of content marketing is to attract, win and retain customers. In order to do this effectively you need to build trust with your target audience, which means helping them solve problems and achieve their goals. That’s why you’ve created marketing personas modelled on your ideal customer. Yet this isn’t a one-time, ‘set and forget’ activity to be ticked off your to-do list. If you want to know what your customers think:

  •         Ask at your next meeting
  •         Call to gauge reaction
  •         Email a few questions
  •         Create a short survey

When you’re able to tap into the aspirations of your customers, and the hurdles that make their lives difficult, the content you produce as a result of building this knowledge will appeal more broadly to your prospects.

Colleagues

There are two very good reasons to look internally for content inspiration. Firstly, some of your colleagues (most notably sales and customer service) are talking to your customers every day. Those conversations are content marketing gold because they will tell you:

  •         Common customer goals
  •         The challenges they face
  •         How your business helps
  •         Where it needs to build credibility

The other side of this coin is that your colleagues will help bring your brand story to life. They’ll give it authenticity and diversity. This means going much deeper than an occasional thought leadership piece from an interview with the CEO. Chat with the head of product development about the challenges they faced in developing a new feature. Find somebody who’s been with the business for more than 30 years and talk about how the industry has changed. Ask a co-worker what inspired them to run a marathon and raise thousands of dollars for charity.

Experts

Whatever your line of business and target audience is, social media has opened up unprecedented access to the leading thinkers in your field. Find out who those influencers are and make a connection. There are so many ways you can tap into what they’re thinking:

  •         Read their books
  •         Subscribe to blogs
  •         Go to conferences
  •         Register for webinars
  •         Listen to podcasts

Instead of just regurgitating what you learn from these people, use it as inspiration and add some value of your own. Do you have some local examples that will build on the original message? Maybe you can pull together and analyse the opinions of three thought leaders, highlighting shared views or differences of opinion. Perhaps you have a lot of experience in the same field but can offer an alternative world view.

News

It can be difficult to see the bigger picture sometimes but technology is your friend. Set up news alerts for the topics that matter most to your business and be prepared to react quickly when appropriate. This might include:

  •         Relevant news headlines you can comment on
  •         Industry developments that impact customers
  •         Quirky stories that align with your brand values

Where possible it makes sense for this to be assigned to a single person or a group on rotation. Depending on the scale of your content efforts they should report findings back to your brand editor or another senior member of the team. Reactive content ideas should be relayed immediately and supported with weekly or monthly reports that highlight potentially interesting trends.

Competitors

Last, but definitely not least, what content assets are your competitors producing? They have the same target audience so you should be across their messaging. As with industry experts discussed earlier in this post you should subscribe to rival blogs, follow them on social and watch them present at conferences. These are all opportunities to:

  •         Understand similarities and differences
  •         Learn what they’re planning to do next
  •         Benchmark the content you’re producing
  •         Identify knowledge gaps you can fill
Summary

Staring at a blank screen and wondering what to write about has never been fun. You’ll never be short of great content ideas if you commit to actively monitoring these five valuable sources of inspiration. Doing it well means organising the resources at your disposal and really listening but you’ll find it’s well worth the effort.

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