When I talk to my clients about developing content for their B2B Websites, I often hear, “But what will we write about? We’re a [insert description here] type of company. We make widgets. We have nothing to say. Waaaa!”
First off, you don’t want to write about your company and its products (or at least not all the time). Instead, you want to develop content that gives people information they find interesting and can actually use.
This is why white papers, e-books, guides, reports, and blog articles are so popular.
Think about developing content this way: a trade journal doesn’t publish information about how to publish a magazine month after month (which is its specialty when you get down to it). Instead, it gives its readers industry news that’s of interest to them.
When developing content for your Website, you need to think of yourself as a micro-publisher, not a manufacturer or developer or whatever else you are.
It also helps if you develop a “beat” in much the same way a reporter has a beat or niche industry / news focus he or she covers.
Just as Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal covers all things relating to personal technology, you’ll cover a slice of your own industry.
Developing a beat helps narrow your focus, which in turn makes it easier to come up with content ideas.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of information out there, you cull sources and experts down to only those that relate to your topic area and then begin reading / following them.
By narrowing your focus, you’re then able skim content for those items within your beat — versus reading the publication (online or off) start to finish, which takes waaaay too much time. You’ll also begin to generate ideas for blog posts, white papers, reports, articles and other information (not to mention you’ll learn how your competitors position themselves).
As an example, here is my daily / weekly / monthly beat:
I read the Wall Street Journal just about every day — focusing mostly on the Marketplace and Personal Journal sections plus any relevant business news on the front page.
I like to read articles about companies and their successes and failures and anything about Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, P&G, Steve Jobs, women in business, technology, and social media. I also carefully study the B2B ads — which often become fodder for blog posts.
I also read Fortune magazine, Inc., Fortune Small Business, and Fast Company and will often retweet items of interest (Hootsuite makes this easy as it has a built-in URL shortener).
I’m also constantly on the lookout for articles / news that pertain to my clients’ industries. Because I have a client who works with high network individuals, for example, I read articles about changes to tax laws, investing, and anything else that pertains to their audience. (This is how I’m able to come up with content ideas for their blog, which I ghostwrite).
Google News / Twitter
I log in to <http://news.google.com/”>Google News and/or Twitter several times a day to see what’s new. I find lots of interesting information this way, such as the fact that the hugely successful Old Spice social media campaign has lifted sales by 107%.
E-newsletters / Blogs / Google Alerts
I have a few blogs I follow religiously plus those I read as time permits. I also read a number of e-newsletters from companies and individuals.
I keep an eagle eye for any new reports, data, surveys, etc. that I can use in my presentations, blog posts, etc. For example, I recently posted about a terrific white paper that Silverpop published for B2B marketers.
I run a number of Google Alerts for specific keywords and as time permits, cull through any interesting items.
Although I’m not a heavy TV watcher, I do like to watch weekend sporting events occasionally — but only for the commercials as B2B companies will often advertise. In addition, listening to the radio is a great source of ideas, especially when it comes to how companies pitch themselves.
That in a nutshell is how you develop “a beat.” It sounds like it takes a lot of time, but for the most part, it’s pretty easy to maintain. The secret is to skim for items of interest — and cull items for future blog posts, newsletter articles, and e-books / white papers.