B2B content marketing success relies on creating relevant, useful and entertaining material. But it is hard work. Coming up with topics that balance your need to be both strategic and creative is no easy task, and can take a lot of time and effort.
In fact, in the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Survey, it was highlighted that two of the biggest challenges that B2B marketers face are producing engaging content and producing content consistently.
In other words – those in charge of updating B2B websites need better ideas, and more of them. And like everything in business today, they need them quickly – so here’s a simple way to get them.
Take a peek inside to learn about the outside
If you want better content ideas then you need to understand what your audience wants and needs. Getting inside their heads will make it far easier to create content that interests and engages with them.
Trying to get a better idea of what your target audience wants to hear should be a fundamental part of your content strategy, and it doesn’t necessarily take a five-figure market research project.
The people inside your business who have regular contact with your customers or clients are a great place to start – they know how your audience speaks and interacts, what they value, what they like and dislike about your products or industry, and much more.
All you need to do is ask them a few simple questions and use the answers to come up with great new content ideas that are guaranteed to be relevant to the people you are trying to attract.
There are all sorts of ways you can benefit from the collective experience and creativity of the people in your company, but make sure you frame your requests in the right way. Try and show people how content can help them educate your audience and make their jobs easier (e.g. create an FAQ that customer service can direct people to, or develop messages that will deliver warmer leads to your sales team, and so on).
And even though this is internal, make sure you do things properly; don’t make any common survey mistakes or hassle people too much – you don’t want to get a bad reputation! B2b content marketing success relies on solid, actionable information and predictable progress.
In the section below a number of example questions that can be used for people in different apartments are included, along with how the answers can be used to create content.
Department specific content
Sales – ask the sales team for their top 1-3 reasons why customers buy and don’t buy, and then create content that emphasizes the strengths and addresses the weaknesses (perceived and actual) of your products.
For example, if you sell coffee makers to restaurants and the sales team tells you that people mainly buy because they are locally produced in Pittsburgh, and are higher capacity than equivalently priced equipment – a good piece of content could be:
“What Could You Do with 24 Hours’ Worth of Our Pittsburgh coffee?” – a funny article about different ways that the volume of coffee made in a day could be used; for example, fill a truck, float a barge, support enough plankton to feed a blue whale for 4 hours etc. This would highlight the capacity (being the strength of the product) while also getting in the local angle and associated keywords.
Tech or customer support – this department can be a great source of inspiration for content.
Firstly, you can create FAQs as mentioned earlier by asking what the top 3-5 questions are that they receive on a daily basis. Really detailed answers can be explained in individual pieces of content too, and linked to from the FAQs. Content like this can contribute to building a better all-round customer experience.
Secondly, it might be useful to ask what the common misconceptions are about your products – perhaps people purchase it thinking that it will work with certain operating systems or components that it isn’t compatible with, or have a specific problem in mind that your product won’t fix. Clarify these in content that will help people make buying decisions.
Thirdly, in a similar way you can also try and find out from this department what the aspects or features of your products are that people generally don’t know about, and create content to show them what is really possible.
Management – the people in charge aren’t likely to be as familiar with the specific details of what you do as the people in the trenches, but what they can provide is more fundamental strategic direction.
You can ask managers various questions on this that will make for great content topics, such as:
- How do you think we have changed as a business in the last 5 years?
- What are the three main things that our customers should know about our industry?
- Who in our industry do you think is a real thought leader, and that it would be interesting to discuss on the company blog?
General questions for b2b content marketing success
Alongside survey questions that relate specifically to individual departments there are also plenty of general topics that you can ask about that will make for great content ideas such as:
- Ask what people think your customers value the most. This doesn’t have to relate directly to your business – any insights into their lifestyle, hobbies and identity can be turned into great content ideas with a bit of creativity. If you find out that your accountancy clients love heavy metal then create content on what Metallica’s accounts might look like. If your team tells you that the people who buy your shirts love to travel in Asia then why not get some stories from people in your business who have done the same. There are huge possibilities for making deeper connections with the people you serve this way.
- Ask what is missing from your content. This pretty obvious question could actually be quite revealing. Chances are the people in your company have some really good ideas about what is missing from your content marketing efforts based on what they read online – get them to share a few and you could have ideas not just for new content but for improving everything your website does.
- Ask people if they want to know a bit more about web publishing in your business. Although this won’t directly lead to new content ideas, getting more people engaged with the content marketing team will only benefit you going forward. Whether you need alliances to get buy-in for new initiatives, people to help cross-promote important new campaigns or just a few new voices to bounce ideas off – allies can be very useful!
Developing a culture where people outside of the content marketing team feel empowered and informed enough to contribute to the website can do great things for a business. Whether employees are encouraged to submit finalized pieces or just contribute a few ideas, the collective knowledge and talent in any company shouldn’t go to waste.
And this can all start with a brief survey designed to get a simple, clear response – give it a try today!
Who do you think would be a great source of ideas for new pieces of content? Let us know in the comments!
Also published on Medium.