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10 Ways To Succeed In Thought Leadership Strategy In B2B Marketing

Climbing a mountain is similar to thought leadership strategy. There are no shortcuts available. Working your way to the top takes a lot of time and effort, but once you're there, man, what a view! You'll also have the advantage of being taller than your rivals.

However, how can you tell if thought leadership is worth the time and effort?

According to a recent study conducted by Edelman and LinkedIn, many B2B organizations are relying on thought leadership to strengthen their strategy. The 2019 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study is a collaboration between these two brands. According to the findings of this research:

  • Thought leadership has a lot of clout in both marketing and sales.
  • The importance of thought leadership in the eyes of senior decision makers.
  • People's responses to thought leadership content.
  • What kind of thought leadership are important to B2B audiences?

What Does It Mean To Be A Thought Leader?

People use the word "thought leadership" to refer to a variety of things, so let's define it for the purposes of this study. According to the report, "free deliverables that organizations or individuals generate on a topic in their area of competence, when they believe others can benefit from their expertise," are examples of thought leadership.

However, self-promotional content that merely serves to describe an organization or its products or services is not included in this study's definition of thought leadership marketing.

Many firms, according to the survey, do not recognize the actual worth of thought leadership marketing.

This implies that, even if they have a strategy in place to increase thought leadership, they may not devote the time and effort necessary to see it through.

So, what's the point of investing in a thought leadership marketing strategy?

Why Is Thought Leadership Marketing Important In B2B Marketing?

Thought leadership strategy in b2b business company
Thought leadership strategy in b2b business company

We've been promoting thought leadership as a vital and required approach for B2B brands for years, but this report proves it.

Thought leadership material was directly responsible for 58 percent of company decision makers allocating business to one organization over another. And 61% of C-suite executives would pay a higher price to do business with established thought leaders over non-thought leader competitors.

Another 45 percent of decision makers encouraged firms to bid on a project after reading thought leadership material, despite not previously considering the brand.

These figures demonstrate the value of thought leadership efforts, not only as a tool to enhance your brand, but also as a strategy to increase your bottom line.

How might your brand's thought leadership approach be improved? What do B2B companies look for in thought leaders? Let's take a closer look at the Edelman-LinkedIn research and discover what particular methods you can employ to improve your own thought leadership.

The Thought Leadership Divide

The research found a significant gap between how buyers and sellers perceive thinking leadership. While 87 percent of business decision-makers believe that thought leadership improves a company's trust factor, only 49 percent of sellers concur. Similarly, while 89 percent of customers believe thought leadership improves a brand's reputation, only 55 percent of sellers agree.

From awareness to contemplation to purchase to cross-selling, the divergence persisted throughout the sales process.

"B2B buyers say thought leadership has more influence on their purchase behaviors across every stage of the buying process than marketers and sellers believe. This means that many marketers are likely engaged in activity that is underutilized or worse, actually detrimental to sales efforts. Companies need to scrutinize and better align internally around the "why and how" of their own thought leadership to fully harness its potential and ensure that, at minimum, it's not harming their reputation and sales."

-- Joe Kingsbury, U.S. Managing Director, B2B at Edelman

10 Ways To Strengthen Your Thought Leadership Strategy

Be Succinct

Thought leadership strategy in b2b business connexions
Thought leadership strategy in b2b business connexions

It isn't always true that more is better. And being long-winded isn't an indication of knowing what you're talking about. In fact, brief, to-the-point content is the ideal method to demonstrate your thought leadership abilities.

Long-form material like ebooks and white papers has a place in your plan, but it shouldn't be the sole one. Time is a finite resource that many company decision-makers do not want to waste. In fact, more than half of business decision makers (57%) prefer "snackable" media forms, or material that can be consumed in a matter of minutes.

Examine how to make infographics, movies, and blog entries that are simple to understand for busy business owners.

Create A Trusted Foundation

Never undervalue the importance of trust. People feel misled by advertising and marketing in our advertising-infused culture, and they are more wary than ever of conducting business with strangers. For example, according to the Edelman-LinkedIn poll, 82 percent of company decision makers prefer content published by someone they know and respect.

What impact will this have on your thought leadership marketing efforts? Make use of word-of-mouth marketing and other strategies to make your thought leadership content flourish.

With easy-to-see share buttons, you can make it simple for users to share your content. Consider implementing a rewards scheme to entice viewers to share your material. Seek out possibilities to have your content published on well-known websites.

Make A Vision Board

Assurances are appealing to business decision-makers, and having a vision statement that clearly articulates your vision for today and tomorrow instills confidence. In the survey, this aspect is emphasized. Nearly nine out of ten respondents (88%) believe it is critical for businesses to have a clear vision of the future.

It's time to make a vision statement if you don't already have one. Consider what values motivate you to achieve your objectives. This should not be a standard response. It should be innovative and purposeful, capturing the attention of your audience while also conveying honesty.

Produce Exceptional Content

The quality of your material is the most important component that might influence your thought leadership objectives. Business decision makers reported that 30% of the information they encountered was poor or mediocre, while another 53% said it was just good.

Another study by Velocity Partners found that 57 percent of firms surveyed thought the content they were delivered was useless. Another 66% stated they were inundated with content from corporations.

Consider it an opportunity. Spend your time and money on developing high-quality content that will keep your audience coming back for more. Long-form blog posts, ebooks, checklists, infographics, films, and so on are all examples of this. Remember that "professional" does not imply "cookie-cutter"; be yourself and avoid losing your voice in the process.

Make sure that all of your content, both in terms of presentation and content, is of professional quality. Also, even if your material is excellent, avoid bombarding and overwhelming your viewers with too much information.

Engage with your information, appealing to both a want for knowledge and a desire for resonance, for someone to say, "Aha, I got that."

The Entire Sales Funnel Should Be Addressed

Thought leadership is a multi-faceted instrument that many marketers are underutilizing. Many people use it near the top of the funnel to pique their audience's curiosity. However, as we travel down the funnel, we notice a gap that thought leadership can fill.

More in-depth thought leadership pieces can help individuals make up their minds as they get closer to making a decision — and may even persuade them to choose your brand over others.

Take The Front Seat Of The Conversation

Thought leadership strategy in b2b business conversation
Thought leadership strategy in b2b business conversation

When asked how they felt about thought leadership content, 60 percent of respondents in the Edelman-LinkedIn study indicated it lacked useful insight.

Look for places in your sector where you can add a new perspective. Share insights that demonstrate your expertise in your field and will assist your audience in making the best judgments possible. You should be the one to start the dialogue, not just react to what other industry experts have to say.

Get Rid Of The Ineffective Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership has two sides to it. When done incorrectly, it can be detrimental to a company's bottom line. For example, while 92 percent of participants polled in the Edelman-LinkedIn study claimed that thought leadership material boosted their regard for an organization, 46% said it diminished their esteem.

Similarly, while 75% of business leaders said they would follow someone based on their thought leadership content, 60% said they would quit following someone after reading their thought leadership content.

Even more interesting, while 58% decided to award business based on thought leadership, 29% decided not to award business based on thought leadership content.

What are the implications of these red flags? While thought leadership is a powerful and necessary tactic, it may be damaging to your company if done incorrectly.

What can you do to make sure your thought leadership content stands up to scrutiny and has a good influence on your target audience? Make sure your thought leadership content is well-intentioned. Determine your audience's needs and try to meet them through your material. Make every piece of information you generate simple to grasp, absorb, and value for anyone in your audience.

Make It A Company-Wide Objective

The word "executive" is absent from the description of a thinking leader, and with good reason. Thought leadership does not have to be limited to the top of your organization. You have the potential for thought leadership whether you are in the C-suite or at the bottom of the corporate ladder.

Look for talent in all sectors of your firm if you want to expand your brand's thought leadership approach. Encourage everyone to develop their ideas and thoughts in order to gain knowledge and understanding.

Create a supportive environment for people at all levels of thought leadership. Your brand will expand in tandem with them. Remember that a company's presence is strengthened and a wider audience is attracted when it has several thought leaders.

Maintain The Relevance Of Your Content

Thought leadership strategy in b2b business content
Thought leadership strategy in b2b business content

Your material must be relevant to your target audience. It doesn't matter if you have the most engaging, well-written content if your audience isn't eager for it.

According to the Edelman-LinkedIn survey, choosing themes that are relevant to people's businesses is a crucial component in getting them to engage with content. This entails keeping your ears to the ground, so to speak, in order to determine what your audience is interested in.

To fill in any gaps in your knowledge of what your audience wants, use social media research, paid services like BuzzSumo, and listening to the concerns of current consumers.

As a side point, your content must be easy to find for your target audience. Find out the platforms and forums your target audience frequents and post your material there. If they're on Facebook, use that medium to communicate with them. If they read a certain trade publication, try to have your work published there.

Calculate Your Progress

While measurement is one of the more humdrum components of campaigns, its importance cannot be overstated. You can't tell if your campaign is successful, much less prove it, unless you measure it.

Some businesses, like many other marketing and public relations initiatives, struggle to demonstrate the value of thought leadership efforts. Creating quantifiable targets early in your campaign and investing in analytics solutions that can show you your success, however, is well worth the effort.

B2B thought leadership takes time and effort, but it is a worthwhile investment. Spend the time to create content that resonates with your audience and has a positive influence on your bottom line.

What Is Thought Leadership In B2B Marketing?

What Is Thought Leadership and How Does It Work? By definition, thought leadership is a marketing strategy that establishes you as an industry expert and authority. The purpose of thought leadership marketing is to provide an access point to your business by branding oneself as an expert, not to develop sales-heavy content.

What Is A Thought Leadership Strategy?

What is the definition of thought leadership? At its foundation, thought leadership is a marketing approach that focuses on material that positions you as an expert in your subject rather than information that sells. The idea is to respond to the queries that your target audience has.

What Is Thought Leadership In Business?

A thought leader is a well-known specialist in a certain firm, industry, or community who provides advice and insight to people around them. In other words, a thought leader has a good reputation for sharing their knowledge and insight with others.

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