Great content starts with a big idea. It’s the thing you want to say that nobody else has the experience, authority, or guts to talk about. It’s your unique perspective on the world you operate in. It’s your story.
The trouble is, when you’re operating in a crowded market – like, say, B2B tech – that angle isn’t always easy to find. You might have plenty to talk about, but still you may find you’re lacking that all-important hook that’s going to differentiate you from the crowd.
Similarly, you may find that you just don’t know enough about what others are saying and talking about to see where your unique opinions, viewpoints and messages lie.
But fear not. I’ve helped quite a few B2B tech companies find and develop their big idea, and I’m going to share some tips to help you do the same.
What do you think you do better than anyone else?
You might have a perfectly rehearsed elevator pitch for what your organisation does, and hopefully you understand which elements of your messaging resonate best with your target customers. But when it comes down to it, what’s the one thing your business really does best?
It’s a far more difficult question to answer than many people expect. It forces you to really get to the essence of what you do differently – and often, once you get there, the answer appears far less exceptional or exciting than you really want it to be.
Think about a huge global tech company for example. They’re built on a history of innovation, but today the cloud services they provide look pretty similar to the offerings of their competitors. It may transpire that the one thing they do better than the rest of their market is guiding and serving customers.
Every marketer in that company wishes with every fibre of their being that their tech was in some way superior to that of their competitors. But in this case, it’s not. There’s no unique story there. The thing they can really speak about with authority is the value of guidance and customer service – a concept that to most won’t seem very exciting at first glance.
But ultimately, the thing you do best is going to form the basis of your big content idea – assuming your customers actually agree with it.
What do your customers think you do better than anyone else?
New research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs shows 58% of B2B content marketers don’t talk to customers when they’re planning. That’s crazy.
When it comes to planning and creating content, interviewing your customers is one of the most valuable things a copywriter like me can do. Often, the positive thoughts and feelings they have to share about your products or services are remarkably different from what you’ll find in your sales team’s pitches.
Customers have a unique perspective on what it really is that your business does differently, because they see the context of your market – and they choose you. So if you’re struggling to find your own unique story to tell, it’s worth talking to them directly.
And similarly, if you think you’ve found your own big story to tell, you’re going to want to run it past some existing customers to make sure it rings true, before you push ahead with building a content program around it.
What are your competitors saying?
Once you’ve built a balanced picture of what you do best, your head will hopefully start filling with exciting ideas for stories and content you could create. But before you push that button, it’s worth checking out what your competitors are saying.
Maybe they’re not saying anything particularly special or inspiring, but its important to understand the nuances of the conversation, so you can stand out.
Firstly, it’s important for ensuring that what you want to say truly is unique. Secondly, it’s going to give you an idea of the sorts of myths and misconceptions that others are perpetuating that you may want to dispel as part of your big idea.
Where is your business (and your market) heading?
Looking at what’s happening today is important, but your big idea is going to fuel your content plans for (hopefully) months to come. The things you do right now may form the basis for it, but to some degree it also needs to be future-facing.
Do you anticipate major changes in your market over the coming years? Is your product strategy likely to change for any reason in the coming months? And if the answer to either of those questions is yes, why is that?
If you’ve identified changes that your business needs to react to, you’ve also identified valuable topics that you can start discussing in your content today – these are your best opportunities to own a significant conversation in your market.
Big ideas push you towards your best content
Whatever your big idea turns out to be – whether it’s a tough truth your market doesn’t discuss, or a big change that you think is going to impact your market or your customers – having one is going to help you build better content.
At the most basic level, coming up with a big idea forces you to think critically about which subjects are really worth discussing in depth. It keeps you away from creating content for content’s sake, and ensures a level of consistency across everything you produce.
Your big idea isn’t the only thing that your content will explore and discuss, but it is the thread that should tie all of your content together. As little ideas come and go, look at them through the lens of your big idea – identifying ways of exploring emerging topics and hot trends in a way that complements and aligns with the core of your content marketing efforts.