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“You can’t bore people into buying products. You must interest them.” Marketing guru David Ogilvy is certainly onto something.

Modern-day content marketers are faced with endless opportunities to communicate and tell a brand’s story. Be it online, in print or through social media, B2Bs need to find the topics that interest their audience – and potential customers. The better they are at addressing these ideas, the more likely it is that key stakeholders will take notice and stay focused.

The most important step to any content marketing strategy is understanding who your brand speaks to and what they care about. Especially when there are multiple fields of interest at play, realizing what industry-specific topics matter the most will be the key to a brand’s most successful, and relevant, content platform.

These nuggets of information aren’t as hard to find as one might think. Here are a few tricks to learning about what makes your brand’s customers tick:

Trade Shows – A wealth of information can be gleaned from industry events. Seminars and keynote presentations often address the current buzz that’s going around the industry. And it can be a great way for getting a jump-start on thought leadership about “what’s next?” in your key markets. (If you exhibit there as well, engage with booth visitors! Be open to conversation and listen.)

Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs – these communities are gaining popularity in the B2B space, providing content marketers with valuable insight. Staying in touch with conversations here can provide great resources for what’s new and what’s relevant to your customers.

News, News and News – One of the best ways to learn about your audience is to follow them to their information resources. Industry publications, market news channels and analyst reports can be great tools for building interesting content.

Your Customers – Get insight straight from the source! Provide customers with opportunities to relay feedback, ask questions and address issues they may have. Not only will it help build your relationship with them, but it also will provide first-hand perspectives on what’s newsworthy for targeted content.

Your Peers – Competitors are after the same goal – connect with the audience and show their expertise and strength as thought leaders in the industry. Sometimes, listening to what they’re talking about can help clue you in to what’s top of mind.

Use what exists too! Many times, companies have unrealized sources internally that can provide great insight for content marketers. Consider these channels for gathering timely topics and points of engagement:

  • Tap into research and development teams – data can speak volumes!
  • Market research – a great resource for hot topics.
  • Presentations – company reps who speak at conferences and trade shows are directly addressing a concentrated, targeted audience – and speaking about relevant issues.
  • Q&As with product managers or sales representatives – they are the closest in-house resources to your markets.

The ins and outs of content marketing seem fairly straightforward – spark interest, engage with audience, build brand confidence and establish a relationship. What that content is, however, can make a huge difference in how that relationship grows. So, be timely, be relevant and be willing to listen.

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Chris HenneghanChris is one of Schubert’s longest-standing employees, starting with the agency in 1987. She now serves as Senior Vice President and Brand Strategist. Chris is a Notre Dame grad and enjoys tennis, golf, hiking and reading.

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