Writer’s block is like a monster that rears three ugly heads: lack of ideas, lack of motivation and lack of resources.
But you’ve got to generate content to meet your marketing goals, and you don’t want to waste time making “noise” that doesn’t add value for anyone. You need a quick formula to help you create meaningful, effective content in a pinch.
To help you get unstuck, I’ve collected some of my and my team’s favorite strategies for finding ideas and putting pen to paper.
Where to Find B2B Content Ideas ASAP
We get asked a lot: How do you come up with content ideas?
It’s a great question, and it doesn’t have a simple answer. A lot of factors should drive your editorial calendar, and the best-case scenario is to have a b2b content strategy to guide you. But if you’re in an idea rut and need to come up with quick-win topics, grab a piece of paper and get ready to take notes as you answer the following questions:
1. What do you already know about your customers?
What do you know about your customers’ pain points and what they care about? Make a list based on your own experience and understanding. No pain point is too small or irrelevant for this list! You may be surprised by the connections you make down the road.
2. What are you passionate and knowledgeable about?
What message and information do you most want to convey to customers and prospects about your business, expertise and value proposition? What topics could you talk about endlessly if allowed? Create another list for these topics, noting where they might connect with customer pain points and concerns.
3. What was a “hit” in the past?
What content and marketing initiatives were effective in the past? It doesn’t hurt to double down on successful campaign strategies and ideas. For example, did you write a series of technical articles that readers ate up? Note these ideas and consider how they might relate to what you’ve already listed.
4. What existing content is popular?
What topics and content types are consistently top performers? If you have star content, that’s a glaring sign of value and interest, and you may be able to expand on those topics to spread the love.
For example, if you have a general blog that gets a lot of attention on your website and social media, readers would probably appreciate another blog that goes deeper into that topic or relates to it. You can find top performers by viewing your site analytics on platforms like Google Analytics and Semrush, or with an SEO audit specific to your blog. Jot down the subject matter of those top performers.
Tip: Can that “hit” content or other existing content be broken up into shorter pieces or pieced together into a guide? You can often repurpose existing content into multiple other formats.
5. What can your customers tell you?
Last but certainly not least, what do your customers actually think, feel and want? We’re always touting the value of talking directly with customers to find content inspiration – and more. Don’t operate in a bubble. You may think you know what your customers want, but there’s everything to gain and nothing to lose from asking them. What are their actual pain points? What do they value most in their relationship with you? Take copious notes from these conversations and, if you can, record and transcribe them for future use.
Tip: Keep in mind the unique perspectives of your customers and their roles. Consider who you’re trying to reach with your content. For example, a CEO will have different concerns and care about different topics than a purchasing agent. If you have time, building audience personas can inform and enhance your content strategy.
Connect the Content Dots
With the information you gather from these points of inspiration, you can identify common concerns, interests, correlations and more. You might immediately recognize key content themes, such as inventory control or recruiting talent.
From there, you can brainstorm topics that fall under those themes. For example, under recruiting you might write “How to Build an Internship Program” or “New Places to Look for Talent.” It helps to plug those themes and ideas into a content calendar, even if it’s just in the “Ideas” tab.
And while we’re generally talking about blog topics here, it’s also important to consider whether that’s the best format for the topic or if there are other B2B content types worth exploring, such as guides, case studies, social posts, infographics and more.
Looking for more content fodder? We’ve outlined 10 places to find content ideas for your business.
How to Put Pen to Paper When You’re Stuck
It’s not just you. Writing is hard. I’ve been doing it for more than 20 years, and I still have moments where I sit down to write a blog post for one of my clients and proceed to stare, eyes glazing over, at my blank screen.
And while stepping away from your desk for the 15th time may help, if you’re on a deadline, you eventually have to get words on the page.
So whether it’s a press release, blog post, website copy or a long-form article, here’s how I fight writer’s block:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff – yet.
Don’t worry about grammar, style and whether the content sounds good. Just start writing and plan to edit for these elements later. It may sound silly, but ignoring these removes a lot of obstacles to getting started. Self-editing and nit-picking as you go can keep you stuck at the starting line.
2. Scrawl out the main point.
Write the main point of the content you’re writing. And again, see #1: Don’t sweat the small stuff – yet. This is just about centering on what you want people to get from your piece. Don’t overthink it. Just write it. You can build out the rest of the concept around this central point, bit by bit.
3. Don’t start at the beginning.
Let your gut be your guide and start with the section you feel most confident and passionate about. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works for me every time. Write the rest of the piece first and save the lead until the end or until you are inspired. Often, this practice makes for a more well-rounded introduction, as you’ll have a clearer idea of what the reader can expect of the content as a whole.
4. Talk it over with a friend.
Sometimes, explaining what you want to write can help you frame the piece. I frequently tell our clients they are welcome to call us to talk through what they are writing. I’ll send outlines based on those conversations to kick-start the process. We’ll also ghostwrite content for them because sometimes it is easier to tell your story than it is to write it.
5. Step away.
Sometimes, you just have to step away. If the piece is not due in an hour, work on something else, leave your office for a walk or save it until the next morning. I frequently write at night when I’m less likely to be interrupted by an email or call.
Don’t forget to have someone edit your work. Whether it’s a professional editor or just a friend, make sure it’s someone who will give you objective, honest feedback.
How to Call for Reinforcements
Sometimes, it’s less a matter of inspiration and motivation and more about a lack of resources. In such cases, outsourcing to a content professional or agency will mean the work gets done and your content program doesn’t get sidelined.
When you enlist the help of professionals for B2B content writing services, they can often work with you on ideation and strategy as well, depending on the type of services they provide.
At 3 Aspens Media, we provide a full range of content services, from content auditing and strategy to writing, editing and designing. We help our clients run successful content programs, working as extensions of their team. If you’d like to learn more about how it works, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].