5 Questions to Help You Choose Your Best B2B Marketing Ideas

by Katy French

There is a lot of B2B content in the world—and a lot of it is bad. Maybe that’s harsh, so let’s say it’s…weak. It’s often just superficial fluff, navel-gazing “thought leadership,” or just plain boring. It doesn’t convert the audience. Heck, it doesn’t even connect with the audience. And yet, brands continue to churn it out. So how do you avoid creating that type of blah content? How do you come up with good B2B marketing ideas that will resonate with the right people? Well, it’s not just about brainstorming a bunch of ideas. It’s about vetting those ideas. 

53% of buyers say it’s important for new and small companies to produce thought leadership if they want buyers to consider working with them.

—Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study

Why You Need to Vet Your B2B Marketing Ideas

The content marketing you create matters. In fact, research shows that it can be more impactful than your sales material.

64% of buyers say that an organization’s thought leadership content is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competency than its marketing materials and product sheets.

—Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study

This is why it’s so important to come up with content ideas that are exciting, engaging, and unique. This can be a challenge if you’re feeling pressured to keep your content calendar full at all times, but remember it’s quality that ultimately wins over quantity. Taking the time to brainstorm—and refine—your ideas will always result in better, more effective content that is worth everyone’s time. 

But how do you come up with those ideas?

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5 Questions to Ask When You Brainstorm B2B Marketing Ideas

Having been through a few (OK, thousands) of brainstorms for our B2B clients over the last decade, we know that the strongest content ideas let you demonstrate your expertise while serving your audience’s needs. (BTW, if you don’t know who your audience is, use our personas template to figure it out.)

To help you identify which ideas will help you do that, here are five questions you should ask before greenlighting your next piece of content. 

1) Is this interesting? 

Content is a great way to differentiate your brand, but it only works if your content actually stands out to your audience. Why is this idea interesting? Would it make them stop scrolling? Would it make them click?

55% buyers say if a piece of thought leadership does not pique their interest within the first minute, they will move on.

—Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study 

Luckily, you can turn a decent idea into a great idea by identifying the particular hook you want to lead with. 

Tip: Think about how to grab your audience’s attention via subject matter, angle, or even your headline. 

  • Take a provocative or challenging stance. 
  • Do a deep dive into a dense subject.
  • Cover surprising trends or newsworthy topics. 

The way you title your piece can also do a lot to pique interest. Try Coschedule’s headline analyzer to craft a headline with an emotional hook. 

Example: Zapier piques interest with a controversial stance on a longheld belief, proudly proclaiming that “the customer isn’t always right.” If you work in customer service, that stance alone is enough to make you want to click. 

2) Is it valuable?

A salacious headline might be interesting to someone, but what makes them stick around and, ideally, take the next step toward purchase is the value that content provides. 

Value comes in all different forms.

  • Educational content teaches people something worthwhile.
  • Inspirational content makes people feel excited and motivated.
  • Entertaining content brings joy or much-needed relief. 

Think about what you want people to take away from your content. What will make it worth their time?

71% of decision-makers say that less than half of the thought leadership they consume gives them valuable insights.

—Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study

Tip: Content that empowers people to do something is particularly valuable (e.g., guides, checklists, tools, templates, etc.). For more ideas, see our tips to create truly valuable content. 

Example: Ahrefs knows exactly what challenges startups face when it comes to growth vs. budget. Creating a handy guide to help startups grow their SEO is super valuable for their audience. 

3) Is it unique? 

Even if you are not one of the top competitors in your field, unique thought leadership can help you win people over. 

47% of buyers say thought leadership led them to discover and ultimately purchase from a company that was not considered to be among the leaders in a particular category (i.e., a challenger brand).

—Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study 

But if you create the same generic, rehashed, unoriginal content as everyone else, it will be hard to stand out. When coming up with ideas, look for ways to add your original spin, perspective, expertise, or insight. 

Tip: If you’re looking for more ways to stand out through content, conduct a content audit to see what type of content your competitors are producing. Remember, too, that one of the best ways to stand out is to share your own unique experience, specifically as it relates to your own wins and failures. This makes you more transparent and honest—and helps you empathize with your audience (and vice versa) about the challenges they may be facing. 

Example: When we struggled to find brand strategy resources that felt intuitive for our own brand, we decided to create our ultimate guide to create a brand strategy we wished we’d had. Having read just about every other guide on the planet, this was something we felt uniquely qualified to produce. Since publishing, we’ve received a ton of comments, emails, and even two real-life voicemails from readers who say it’s the best guide they’ve come across. 

4) Is it credible?

Credibility is the key to build trust with any audience. The more you position yourself as a knowledgeable expert, the more people will view you as a trusted resource they can reliably turn to again and again.

65% of buyers say thought leadership significantly changed the perception of a company, for the better, due to a piece of thought leadership.

—Edelman/LinkedIn 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study 

If you’re not sure how to make your content more credible…

  • Look at data. Telling data-based stories makes your brand more credible—and it can get you the spotlight you deserve. Dig into your internal data and you may discover surprising insights that can become great original content. Or use these 100+ credible data sources to produce well-researched content that can get you media coverage. (Journalists love data-based content.) If you’re not sure how to use data in your content, see our guide to data storytelling to find out how to extract these stories yourself. 
  • Partner with a publication. Marketers actually have a unique opportunity to fill in the gaps that traditional outlets do not have the bandwidth (or insights) to cover. Find out how to pitch your ideas to publications to increase your content’s reach. 

Example: The LinkedIn/Edleman B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study we’ve been quoting throughout this article is a great example of data storytelling. By conducting their own survey and synthesizing the results, they provide a helpful resource for B2B marketers across all industries. 

5) What is the best format for this idea? 

If you want people to connect with your content, you need to deliver the right message in the right package (aka the format they want to interact with). However, format is often an afterthought when brands come up with B2B marketing ideas—and brands don’t always accurately assess their ability to create said format. Things like interactives or video can take a larger investment of time, skill, and money, so knowing your capabilities (and limitations) is important to make sure your end result is up to standards. 

Tip: Find out how different types of visual content can help you deliver your message, and if you do plan to pursue a particular format (infographics, video, etc.), check out our content categories for format-specific tips and best practices.

Example: Instead of creating a PDF checklist or guide on how to calculate payroll, Intuit created an interactive calculator to help businesses calculate their hourly and salaried employee paychecks. This is a handy resource that empowers users to do their job more effectively—and positions Intuit as a go-to resource. 

How to Create Better B2B Content

Even if you have the best ideas, if you don’t have the ability to execute them well, they may not get the results you want. To make sure you’re set up for success…

But if you don’t have the bandwidth or resources you need to create the content you want, consider bringing in additional support. Try these tips to find a B2B agency with the right expertise, find out what it’s like to work with us, or reach out directly. We’d be happy to help you bring your content strategy to life.

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