In the business-to-business (B2B) world, you earn every second of time. People just don’t have the time to scroll casually. Look no further than your own journey to this lovely blog as a perfect example. Whether you clicked from your social media feed, Google, or an email, you had countless other options to choose from.
That’s why it’s incredibly important for content marketing in B2B to be highly relevant to your audience and to have a goal for your content marketing. We’ve studied how a robust content library benefits businesses like Lulu Press in the B2C space. But, how can someone in B2B generate similarly valuable content marketing?
Remember, content marketing isn’t about selling your products or services. Resist the temptation and focus on the trends and challenges your audience is thinking about. Let’s jump in. To set you on the right path, we put together 10 sources you can draw from to build relevant topics for your content marketing materials.
1. Existing materials
This might be the lowest hanging fruit, so we’ll start here. If you have any existing content that’s doing well, double-down on it. Repurpose your collateral into a different format or shift your focus to squeeze more value out of it.
For example, if you have a case study that took weeks or months of hard work, you can likely turn the material into a few blogs. Case studies typically follow a “problem, solution, benefit” model. Each one of those sections could very well be its own blog. Even better, each one of those blogs could be catered toward the buyer’s journey:
- Problem = top of funnel
- Solution = middle of funnel
- Benefit = bottom of funnel
You can also change your format to get extra value out of existing materials. Great examples of content marketing here would be to turn a research report or whitepaper into an infographic or interactive quiz.
2. Industry associations
Some industries are better than others at this, but there’s a good chance your industry organizations do a lot of the trend research for you. After a quick browse at their reports section, you can quickly see the “macro” trends. There’s a very strong likelihood that these organizations have a finger on the pulse of your ideal customers.
Even if the organization requires a paid subscription for full access to the reports, most of the time all you need is the headline to get a feel for the topic. Take a look at what they’re putting out there and build some content marketing that puts your brand’s unique spin on the topics and trends.
Take the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) for example. Their Insights page is updated often with a trove of relevant topics for those looking for content marketing ideas in supply chain or logistics.
3. Trade publications or industry websites
Just like industry associations, niche news sites make it their business (literally) to be up on what your audience cares about. A quick subscription to a few trade publications will give you the scoop on trends for the near and distant future.
Once you have a feel for the news, it’s important to add your spin to the topic. Don’t just repeat the news. Be helpful to the community by adding to the conversation.
Ask yourself (or experts on the team) how your brand would respond to the topic:
- What should people be thinking about to address the topic?
- Can you tie the topic back historically or forecast where the topic is headed?
- Does your brand have a culture or values that apply to the topic?
4. Respond to competitors
You can bet that your brand isn’t the only one publishing content. That’s okay! In fact, looking at what competitors are publishing is a great way to get a feel for how they’re addressing the hot topics. This gives you an edge to put your spin on a topic.
Avoid direct confrontation or calling out the other guys. Instead, focus on addressing their commentary. Be the flipside of the coin in your own content marketing, be it a blog, eBook, social media post, or other materials.
Doing this gives your audience a well-rounded perspective on topics while positioning your brand to align with a like-minded community.
5. Seasonal content
Every industry has high- and low-tide seasons. Maybe it’s over the winter holiday. Maybe it’s back-to-school season. Maybe it’s Taco Tuesday. Whatever the case, always include seasonal topics in your content calendar. This shows your audience that you’re connected to what they’re thinking about, when they’re thinking about it.
Our only suggestion is to try to think of something unique or refreshing. Seasonal content tends to fall into the same echo-chamber. It’s okay to do those pieces, but don’t be afraid to stand out either.
6. Google it
We’re pretty used to using Google or other search engines to find answers to our own questions. But, it’s a great place to find what your customers are looking for too. Search engines already have incredibly complex systems and algorithms dedicated to curating the most relevant information. So, there’s a good chance that the top 20 or so entries on search engines are providing answers that your audience wants.
So, use that information. Do some online searches based on your audience’s top challenges or aspirations. What comes up? How can you directly address those queries? Your answers should lead you to highly relevant topics. Simple!
7. Google Trends
This can be hit or miss, but it’s worth looking at Google Trends every once in a while to see what topics are on the rise. It’s a simple tool to use with regional breakdowns of search trends.
8. Customer-driven content
We already covered how to use Google to get inside the mind of your audience. But, maybe you already captured customer challenges and trends. One of the biggest pillars of content marketing is to focus on your audience needs and to solve problems. Sometimes we have our heads down so much to get through the day that we lose perspective of who we’re trying to help. But the sooner you connect with your customer needs, the sooner you’ll be making better content.
Talk to sales folks that meet with customers and prospects every day. Talk to customer support teams to see what issues people have. Better yet, talk directly to customers and prospects. Go to tradeshows or virtual events. Put out a survey. Let the people guide you to the right content marketing ideas. Then, all you have to do is plug in answers.
If you don’t have the time or resources to talk to customers, you can likely gain access to user groups and forums. Reddit is a treasure trove. LinkedIn Groups can be a mixed bag, but you may find a great group for your industry.
The key here is to not bother people too much. Don’t push your agenda in a forum. Be a fly on the wall, or offer information when you can do it without an agenda. People will smell out your intentions, and many of these groups have strict policies for solicitation.
10. Content for the sake of content
This is less of a tip for how to find ideas for content marketing in B2B and more about quality. We can’t reinforce the importance of relevant content enough. It’s tempting to come up with a bunch of content marketing ideas based on things you’re interested in. That’s fine once in a while. But, to make content marketing impactful to the business, it needs to be impactful to an audience. Otherwise, you’re creating materials for an audience of one.