Few things in B2B marketing are harder than coming up with a genuinely original content idea. In our research report into barriers to great B2B content, just 43% of respondents said even their best content had a clever or original concept.
So it’s probably not surprising that one of the first topics requested in our B2B Content Tuesdays webinar series was “Where’s the best place to find B2B content ideas?”
Here are the four places we look first – or rather, where we see our clients looking; we’re just humble copywriters, after all.
(Later in the article, David answers some more detailed questions, and if you scroll all the way down, you can watch a video of the discussion in full.)
1. Find the real questions, that real people ask you, in the real world
We’re not talking about the neatly formed FAQs that you wish your customers would ask. We’re talking about the nitty-gritty questions they’re actually asking – whether directly, or through other means.
And there’s tonnes of places to look for prompts:
Every client, customer, or prospect conversation
Sounds obvious, we know. But anyone who talks to customers on a regular basis can deliver helpful insights. Just ask them to jot down questions they’re asked regularly, and pass them along.
Search engine data and tools
People don’t filter what they put into search engines. So looking through search keyword data can give you a great understanding of customer intent – and help you find out what people want to know.
Top tip: tools like Answer the Public are a really fun way to do this.
Your own website
If your website has a search box, start tracking the information people are searching for. These are the questions they wish you would answer, but you haven’t.
Forums and social media platforms
Anywhere people are having conversations can give you insight into what they know and what they need to find out (and how you can fill that knowledge gap).
2. Think about what you know, that nobody else does
It might be that you have a stack of data within your organisation that you can interrogate, to provide your customers with insights they never knew they needed.
Or maybe you have internal experts that can predict the next big industry trend, or the outcome of a certain event. Sure, it might not be a definitive answer, but if your expert can guess better than anyone else, you have the authority to discuss the future.
Even if you don’t have all the answers your audience needs, you can turn to external sources. Interviews, reviews, analysis, polls can all help spark new, fresh content ideas. Similarly, crunching publicly available numbers, or carrying out quantitative or qualitative research, will make your content highly shareable.
3. Zoom all the way in
One way to create compelling content, particularly in a crowded subject area, is to zoom right in – on the audience, or the subject.
If a subject has been done to death, try to think about a very close, specific angle that provides genuine insight without regurgitating old information.
Find an aspect that may previously have been one paragraph in a broader blog, then dig right in. This could be addressing a very specific part of your audience: a job role, an attitude, or even a particular challenge some readers may be facing.
4. Find places where your competitors are too afraid to go
What are the things in your sector that nobody wants to talk about? What are the problems, the challenges or the drawbacks that no-one has openly addressed yet?
Maybe it’s pricing, an obstacle, or a rumour that’s been circulating. But find out what the elephant in the room is, then talk about it – it’s a great way to spark cut-through ideas and establish yourself as a brand that’s straight-talking and honest.
(And if you need convincing, we once published a piece on why prices for blog writing needed to increase throughout the industry; it’s brought us leads ever since.)
Finding content ideas: your questions answered
Q: As a writer, where is the best place to find content ideas?
David: “At Radix, we find that the best ideas usually come from two places: the experts in the client’s organisation, and their customer base. But we’re not necessarily going to put ideas on top of what the experts already know; it’s all about teasing the best concepts out of them.”
Q: Beyond Answer the Public, what other social listening tools are useful for finding out what your target market wants to know?
David: “Anywhere people are talking about the subject you want to write about is a good place to look. Some people use tools like Sprout and Mention, which could help – but as a content writer, I don’t use them frequently myself.”
Q: How can I discover relevant customer conversations, without the help of social listening tools?
David: “There’s a simple Google trick. Search around the topic you’re interested in, but include the odd opinion word like ‘frustrating’, ‘annoying’, ‘enjoyed’ or similar. These are the words that will crop up in any chats your customers are having about their views on a topic or brand.
“Pulling on those threads can help you discover forums or social media discussions were people are engaged in conversations about the subject, or even just having a whine – which can be great for sparking content ideas and fuelling persona research.”
Thanks again to everyone who attended the webinar, and took part in the Q&A. Here’s the full discussion: