A Framework For Ideating Content-a B2B Marketing Perspective

Precision in content ideation lies at the heart of successful B2B content marketing execution. Well researched ideas that undergo careful vetting and approval before entering the production pipeline ensure that the final output is both effective and efficient. Effective at meeting content marketing objectives in relation to target audience and efficient in doing so within constraints of time, resource and budget. The alternative to using formal ideation methods is to rely on the brilliance of individual writers but that approach is simply not scalable notwithstanding their domain expertise and creative flare. That is content writing not marketing!

In this post, we propose a simple framework for ideating content within the specific context of B2B Marketing. We then go on to provide a high-level overview on how this framework can be easily implemented using the Syptus Idea Builder Tool.

The Four building blocks of Content Ideation

Content Marketing is all about Strategy. And any strategy, the world over, just needs to address a few simple questions around What, Why, Who, How, Where and When in order for it to be successful. Let me articulate how this dead simple concept can be used to inspire a robust framework for generating content ideas.

What You want an idea? Sure! But around what? What are you trying to promote? Kinda pointless to talk about things that do not align with your portfolio of offerings, right? Every company in the B2B space has or should have a clearly defined set of offerings that it goes to market with. If yours does not, then first spend time working with your Business leadership to define your offerings matrix.
Why Having a list of things that you sell is a good start. But why are you looking to do promotion? Are you looking to increase the size of your audience pool by creating awareness about a product/service application? Or do you wish to focus narrowly on prospects who are already in market for your offering? Perhaps by telling them how you do it better? From a content marketing perspective, knowing the why part of your effort makes a huge difference in the kind of content themes you deploy.
Who Creating content for actual human consumption requires more than a careful consideration of the target audience needs and context. Imagine that you are a software vendor selling a complex data management product. Would you want to create low level content that uses screenshots of your product when targeting C-level audience? And vice-versa, would you talk about strategic business outcomes, long term benefits around opex costs etc. when engaging operational IT staff? The ideas that you come up with should have direct relevance to your selected personas.
How So now that you have the What, Why and Who, how do you want to communicate to your audience? This has direct bearing on the kind of content themes that you will want to use. Think of what is the purpose of your content and what value is it looking to provide? Examples of themes would be use cases, product demos/screenshots, how-to-guides, industry best practices, framework guides and so on. All these themes have a specific purpose and should be used appropriately when contemplating content ideas.

Once you complete the brainstorming on above points, you should be good to generate a large volume of highly focused content ideas that make sense within your specific business context. Let us illustrate this using the example of a hypothetical company that provides IT services in the data management space. Here is what the elaborated matrix looks like for this company

Applying the Ideation Framework to generate content ideas for an IT Services Company

What (The list of offerings that the company sells) 1. Big Data Engineering services
2. Data Analytics and Statistical data analysis services
3. Dashboards and Reporting
4. Enterprise Data Architecture and Data Strategy
Why (Content promotion objectives) 1. Lead Generation
2. Branding
Who (For each offering, who is the target audience) 1. Big Data Engineering Services – CTOs
2. Data Analytics Services – Business unit heads (Finance, Procurement, Marketing etc.)
3. Dashboards and Reporting – Business unit heads
4. Enterprise Data Architecture Services – CTOs, Senior Data Architects
How (Content themes for communication) 1. Use Cases
2. Framework Guides
3. Best practices Guides

With this matrix in place, it should now be easy to come up with distinct groups of ideas (at Syptus we call these Idea lists) like so

Idea List 1 Idea List 2 Idea List 3
What Big Data Engineering Solutions Data Analytics Services Dashboards and Reporting
Why Lead Gen Lead Gen Branding
Who CTOs Marketing Heads Business Analysts
How Use Cases Best Practices Guides Free Templates
Content Ideas 1. Use cases for Building Custom Web Analytics Tools using Big data technology stack
2. Use cases for Spark based systems in real-time marketing analytics
1. Best practices in creating modelling datasets for marketing attribution
2. Best practices in working with outliers in building customer analytics datasets
3. Best practices in creating unified visitor analytics profiles for cross channel customer experience optimization
1. Sample scorecard for measuring marketing performance in multi-channel retail
2. Tableau Cheat sheets for implementing advanced calculated metrics

Continuing the lines above, you could theoretically create 4 (what) X 2 (why) X 4 (who) X 3 (How) or 96 groups of ideas or idealists! But of course, not every combination would make sense in a specific business context, or even if they some-magically-how did, it would take a behemoth prioritization effort to configure your lists properly (taking into account a large number of issues such as potential reach, channels of communication, availability of targeting data, quality of writers available, time that can devoted by in-house Subject Matter Experts etc.). This, of course, is where the Content Marketing Strategist has a key role to play. Regardless of the combinations selected though and how you arrive at those selections, you now have a robust framework for churning out content ideas that closely align to your high-level marketing objectives.

Software to the rescue-The Syptus Idea Builder Tool

But of course, creating these lists, capturing ideas from team members (both manual and ones captured using third party content suggestion tools), prioritizing them, managing idea approvals before these get fed into production process etc. are all incredibly tedious tasks that have the potential of hogging up productive time that should really be used for brainstorming and setting up lists that best deliver on expected business outcomes and efficiency metrics.

This, in a nutshell, is the genesis of the Syptus Idea Builder Tool. Using a single interface, users can setup simple to complex lists using the who, why, what, how meta-data overlays as outlined above. These elementary dimensions can be further enhanced using custom tags that allow users to refine the focus of idea lists with arbitrary data overlays such as department, brand, geo, team and so on.

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The tool comes with powerful collaboration features that allow teams to agree on content blueprint before pushing into production. Integration with third party tools including Feedly and Evernote allows members to add notes to these ideas from within the tool.

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Finally, the Idea Builder is fully integrated with the rest of the Syptus platform and this allows seamless conversion of ideas into actual asset requests and then their promotion onto selected media channels.

Summary

For medium-to-large content marketing teams, developing effective processes for content ideation and then deploying the right tools to streamline the on-going management of these processes is a critical enabler for long term content marketing success. The right blend of content marketing art, technology and practical application skills can easily set up you for an incredibly effective and efficient delivery in the long run.
For more details on how the Syptus Idea Builder can be leveraged to tailor the content ideation framework for your specific ideation requirements, please get in touch with us here.