Despite how difficult it is to gain traction, content still remains king and of course, all content is not created equal. One well-positioned thought leadership piece will not only drive demand and lead generation but activelyimpact every stage of the B2B buying process from awareness through purchase.
Arguably subjective, thought leadership content typically refers to “free” informational pieces, such as:
Research reports and surveys
Essays, blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers
Videos, webinars, presentations
What it shouldn’t be is technical jargon or solely product, service, and solution focused.
Subject Matter Experts are Demand Generation Machines
Excellent-level thought leadership development requires planning and input from SMEs. It must first attract and then compel the reader to share before it will aid in conversion. A tall order for many companies given the current marketing mentality, especially where more is better and consistent publishing is key.
A joint study between Edelman and LinkedIn revealed B2B decision makers, including C-level executives, vet an organization based on thought leadership content and over 80% agree their trust level increased after engaging with it. This alone is a very compelling reason to have company subject matter experts, not just technical experts, contribute to content development.
Thought Leadership Content is a Missed Marketing Opportunity
While it might seem obvious that thought leadership drives growth among audiences you haven’t met yet, there is actually a wide chasm between its actual and perceived value.
Consider the following:
Almost 40% of decision makers depend on thought leadership while vetting solutions
Only 17% of content creators believe thought leadership attracts opportunities
90% of C-Suite decision makers claim thought leadership increases trust and respect
60% of content creators believe thought leadership enhances a brand’s reputation
C-Suite buyers say poorly developed thought leadership directly factors into choosing against vendors
Only 14% of what is classified by creators as thought leadership is strong enough to move the needle
Overall the study demonstrates decision makers are clearly aware of its impact in their buying processes, and it’s the content creators who lack an understanding of the significant role thought leadership plays in driving revenue.
How Thought Leadership Content Attracts and Gets Distributed
The type of thought leadership content that influences B2B decision makers relates to a topic they’re currently working on and is short and to the point:
3 - 4 pages
Snack-sized; consumed in 1 - 2 minutes
Short videos less than five minutes in length
No matter the format, all deliver new original ideas and come by way of someone they know and respect; a colleague emails a link, a trusted connection posts on LinkedIn, it trickles down from the boss, or it’s a source they opted into.
Leverage SMEs for Thought Leadership Content
There are always a few rich SME channels within each organization that your marketing team can tap.
Top salespeople:Your top salespeople understand drivers behind why solutions are needed and the factors buyers consider.
Customer service:This team has a bevy of information, from customer satisfaction levels, to implementation challenges and renewal barriers. They’re the front line of churn prevention and their insights can shape content that eases your audience’s deepest fear - buyer remorse.
LOB subject matter experts: Your SMEs might be technical, as well as product marketing, project, or program managers. They know your products and solutions inside-out as well as the trends that drive them. They have technology insights, that when delivered expertly, drive trust.
Top notch writers: We can all agree thought leadership is important, but reading something too technical, too long, or with grammar and flow issues won’t get the shares and engagement you hope for. Your writers must understand your audience and their motivators and be able to strategically interview SMEs, combine their knowledge with sales and customer service, and reduce the collective and complex thinking to a consumable level.
Combining information from these three sources and employing seasoned writers with a knack and track record for crafting content that converts, is key to cultivating your thought leadership and using it to drive more growth.
Need help assessing or developing a winning content strategy or crafting and distributing thought leadership for your technology company? Contact us, we’re here for you!