Let’s face it — not every industry is terribly exciting. Especially to the layperson.
“How am I supposed to produce exciting content, when our company or industry, though incredibly necessary, is boring?”
In-house marketers, especially, face what seems like an insurmountable wall — it’s hard to hype a mundane software update or jazz up a new product release for industrial component parts. I get it.
But the truth is: Everyone has an interesting story to tell, even if they don’t know it. I’ve found this to be especially true in working with leadership, colleagues, and even clients and brand partners. All it takes is a little reframing and digging.
Start with the basics
If you don’t know the basics about your company or industry, you’ll waste your time creating content for the wrong audience, producing in the wrong format, and/or distributing in the wrong channels.
Know your audience
Start with your ideal customer profile. If you know who they are, where they “hang” out, and what their needs are, you’re halfway there.
For example, one of my past clients was a project management software solution for construction job sites. Their ideal customer was A) a mid-size general contractor or large subcontractor for commercial projects that B) was already using specific software that had an integration with the client’s software.
Knowing this information, we steered the client’s content toward a brand partnership with the other software to triple the audience reach.
Know your best channels
For most B2B, distribution is vastly different from B2C. It’s unlikely that you’ll be leveraging trending platforms such as TikTok or Instagram, but LinkedIn and industry podcasts could be up your alley.
Don’t waste your time where your audience isn’t.
Know your key differentiators
What makes your product/service unique? Truthfully — not just marketing spin.
For example, one of my past clients, an investment real estate brokerage, wanted to attract more investors to expand their portfolio. Their key differentiators were their hands-on, high touchpoint service and a proprietary method they had created to evaluate investment opportunities at scale.
Armed with this knowledge, we created content around their evaluation method to establish them as experts in the field. We also created a separate content series with real estate investment advice aimed toward smaller, novice investors to segment the market and extend the customer lifecycle.
Where to get content ideas for B2B marketing
Even the most mundane industries have exciting stories to tell. Here are a few ways to suss them out.
Talk to your sales team
Your sales team is the front line when engaging with clients and potential clients. They often have valuable data to offer, even if they don’t realize it.
For example, upon talking with our sales director in a past role, I discovered, that a lot of our qualified leads were getting far along the buyer’s journey but would exit at the decision-making stage after they received a proposal for our subscription-based software.
Although our pricing was on par with our competitors, we realized that a lot of the decisions weren’t pitting our product versus our competitor’s — rather our product versus our customer’s status quo. We were better served by creating a content campaign that addressed that roadblock than differentiating against our competition.
Talk to your leadership
Some of your company leadership might come from a unique background or hold a great deal of knowledge in a topic that aligns with your product/service/industry. Milk it for all it’s worth.
Does your company sell software but your CEO came from the industry side? Position him as an expert. Does your COO have 40 years in the business? She definitely has some war stories. Schedule time with them to hash out a topic.
Even if you can’t come up with the right topic to interview them about on the spot, by simply talking through what stands out in their experience you might unearth some gems.
Do keyword research
If buyers frequently research your product via a search engine, keyword research can be gold.
All you have to do is leverage a keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner or Ahrefs (in fact, Ahrefs has a great list of free keyword research tools if you don’t have the budget for one).
Using one of these tools, search for your company name, keywords, or phrases you often use in your marketing copy, and your competitors, too. These tools will pull up a ranked list of ideas and other words and phrases that associate with the one you used to search.
You can take a step further beyond gleaning ideas and look for keywords with low competition scores to target. Low competition scores = easier to rank higher on Google.
This can be an ideal way to look for content ideas if you plan on starting a blog to improve your SEO. (Christopher Kokoski has a really good article on basic SEO for new blogs here on Medium.)
Borrow your partners’ brand equity
If you’re a B2B software provider, chances are, your software integrates with another software — bonus points if it’s a larger, more established company with an extensive reach. Or, if you’re a product manufacturer, your product might be made to work with another one (like how USB dongles were created to work with modern laptops with only one USB port).
If you already have existing brand partnerships such as these, don’t squander them. Talk with their marketing team to co-create content that will not only speak to both audiences but enjoy a wider reach and greater engagement because both companies will market it.
Reach out to other experts and “influencers” in your field
In every industry, there are big names that many others recognize. Reach out and ask if you can speak to or interview these industry “celebrities” (and I use celebrities very loosely) on a topic they excel in.
Not only does this create interesting content, but you’ll be able to tap into their following, too. Just be sure to record the conversation for accuracy and be very generous about helping them market their brand in return if they’ve agreed to be interviewed for free.
Look at what your innovation teams are doing
If you’re lucky enough (and large enough) of a company to have one or more innovation teams, sit down with them to learn about what they’re working on.
A large equipment manufacturer asked me to create content with little to no direction on the topic. I talked with several of their innovation teams and learned that they were creating groundbreaking AI technology for their equipment servicers. The topic was perfect — it was not only interesting for people within their industry, but it also meant greater implications for AI in other industries.
Plus: Innovation teams usually have their pulse on the latest trends in the marketplace and shape their products around this data.
Dive into your data
Speaking of data, if your product or service collects a lot of data, you could be sitting on a lot of great starting points for content.
For example, an energy company might have geographical data about energy consumption that would make an interesting map infographic. A hotel chain could track trends from business guests during the busiest conference weekends and release content timed for lower capacity weeks.
The possibilities with data are endless.
Involve your clients
Many clients are happy to work with you on a piece of content in exchange for reciprocal exposure.
The easiest and most obvious content are case studies and testimonials. But think beyond that. You could co-create a webinar together on a trending topic. Maybe you try to win an earned media placement by pitching commentary on an industry problem that plays to expertise from both your company leadership and your client’s.
I promise: You can create interesting content from the most “boring” of industries. All you need to do is change your lens and open yourself up to conversations.
- Talk to other stakeholders, whether it’s within your own company or someone in the industry. People are smart and have stories to tell.
- Apply basic SEO principles.
- Leverage your existing resources. Don’t discount your data.
- Know your audience and know the pillars of your business.
If you can’t find anything interesting to say, then you’re not giving it enough of a chance. Change your frame of reference and keep thinking.