B2B Thought Leadership: How to Become a B2B Thought Leader

Dec 5, 2019 9:53:01 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

In our first post on thought leadership,  we discussed the many benefits of a thought leadership campaign and why B2B companies should take part in this digital content strategy. If you now understand the value of this activity, great… but how do you become a B2B thought leader in your space?

5 Ways to Become a B2B Thought Leader

1. Plan Ahead

Before you start creating thought leadership content, you have to think like a thought leader. This means kicking the campaign off by communicating with company leadership and your sales team to discuss key targets such as Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads as well as set goals you’d like to achieve. Establish the criteria you will use to measure whether or not the campaign was a success.

This is also the time to identify a target audience for each type of content. Your organization may have several different target audiences, but it’s important to avoid taking a “please all” approach with the hope of appealing to multiple audiences within one piece. As with all marketing messages, the more tailored your content, the more meaningful it will be. Keep a laser-sharp focus and develop your thought leadership for one audience at a time.

2. Choose Valuable Topics

The internet is full white noise, and you don’t want your company’s content to join the general roar. To make sure it stands out, choose topics that will be of value to the prospects you most want to reach.

You might address newsworthy issues, industry trends, or topics with an emerging interest. Keep in mind that senior decision-makers tend to think big and are typically most interested in game-changing or visionary thinking. You might take an unexpected angle and play the contrarian to approach a subject from a different point-of-view.

If you experience difficulty brainstorming valuable thought leadership topics, turn to your customers for ideas. What topics most concern them?  What advice can you offer that will help them navigate their pain points? No matter what, remember that you need to come up with original insights rather than parroting content that’s already in the marketplace. Also avoid crafting content that’s too sales-oriented; this will strike readers as just another pitch.

3. Create High-Quality Content

The 2020 Edelman Thought Leadership Impact Study offered valuable insights on consumers’ opinions of the current thought leadership available. Of the decision makers who took part in the survey, only 15 percent considered the material they engaged with to be “very good to excellent” in terms of quality. A whopping 57 percent rated current thought leadership content as just “good,” while 28 percent felt most of the thought leadership they encountered was “mediocre to very poor.”

When you consider that 89 percent of decision makers use thought leadership to shape their perception of an organization, it’s essential that your content be rated in the “very good to excellent” category. To achieve this, engage people in your organization, as well as trusted voices outside the organization, to get invaluable insight. Using subject matter experts for your research will help showcase your organization’s expertise, increasing your campaign’s authenticity and overall value.

4. Focus on Variety

While your company should have a blog, thought leadership goes far beyond publishing regular blog posts. You can create infographics to whet a decision-maker’s appetite to dig into a white paper (or a series of white papers, which will allow you to keep each piece short, specific, and easy to absorb). Use all social media platforms, including LinkedIn for publishing insightful articles. Also explore developing videos, podcasts and webinars.

Another way to make your company a thought leader is to have one of your experts seek out speaking engagements and opportunities to contribute articles. It’s also important to speak with the media about topics in your company’s field of expertise whenever newsworthy events occur.

5. Follow Up

After your campaign is launched, follow up to see if you’re achieving success with it. It’s easy to get stuck on numbers, clicks, and views, but those metrics don’t tell the whole story. To know if you’re reaching solid leads, take time to look into the identity and quality of the audience you’re attracting. What content are they engaging with and what brought them there? The answers will enable you to make changes as necessary… which will put you even farther along the journey of becoming one of your industry’s most valuable thought leaders.

Want to become a B2B thought leader in your industry? We can help. Contact us today!