People don’t like being marketed to, and are turning away from overly promotional messages. As the stakes are moving higher for sales teams to reach decision-makers, marketers are tasked with driving engagement and opportunity in an increasingly crowded marketplace of ideas.
- Audiences are looking to engage at an intellectual, social and emotional level with companies and brands. This is particularly true in B2B marketing where companies sell to highly specialised and educated groups and individuals.
- To reach these elusive B2B targets, companies often aim for ‘thought leadership’. However there are vast differences in theory and practice. All too often, this refers to age-old tactics such as placing bylines / op-eds in trade media publications.
- In the technology industry, content assets are often too technical and fail to connect product marketing messages with customers’ problems in the real world. Instead we are telling a story of continuous self-improvement in speeds and feeds.
Keeping the finger on the pulse of your customers’ industry
True thought leadership starts with insights into major trends, policy or industry changes, allowing those companies that identify seismic shifts first to educate the market and appear as a thought leader. You have to be quick because your competitors will be seeing your programs as do your customers and prospects, so you need to stay ahead of the curve as you’re executing your campaign from awareness through to demand generation.
Have there been any major legislative changes? Are consumer behaviours shifting? Are businesses looking for compliance with environmental and sustainability standards? Explainer-style content can be practical or look at the bigger picture. Either way, it should be carefully researched, backed by data and authored by experts in their field.
Take a customer centric view
Thought leadership can come in many forms, from written collateral such as whitepapers and ebooks to animation videos and online events such as virtual panels and webinars. Some activities might be better suited to generate awareness, while others are designed for lead generation or customer engagement. The common denominator is that your prospects and customers feel that their time investment is worthwhile as they are learning and acquiring knowledge that helps them do their job better.