B2B decision makers and buyers want to do business with brands they trust. Part of how you can establish this trust with key business leaders is demonstrating that you have the knowledge and expertise they’re looking for. But how do you do that? By creating meaningful, impactful thought leadership content. To see how other B2B professionals plan to invest in content marketing, download our 2021 B2B Marketing Mix Report.
In this blog, we’ll review what thought leadership is and provide 5 tips for creating an impactful B2B thought leadership plan, so you can execute this tactic successfully from the start.
What Is Thought Leadership?
Thought leadership is a marketing tactic used by content marketers and companies to build credibility and establish trust by creating content that establishes them as an expert. The ultimate goal for thought leadership marketing is to create content resources that become the go-to for your field or industry. This means any content you or your company creates as a thought leader should deliver real value by educating your audience and providing helpful answers to the most important questions they’re asking. When executed well, thought leadership is a valuable marketing tactic that can greatly impact brand awareness and help you take things to the next level.
Your thought leadership plan is simply the strategic plan you create in order to execute the tactic of thought leadership marketing.
1. Know Your Audience and What Questions They’re Asking
The key to success with any marketing tactic is to first know your audience. Your thought leadership plan should be no different. Start with your buyer persona. If you haven’t created personas yet, check out this blog post on creating buyer personas you’ll actually use. What questions is your audience asking? What are their needs and pain points? To identify these things, check out social media to see what people are talking about. You can also conduct interviews with your existing customers to get a pulse on what their needs, pain points, and questions are. After you’ve identified these key factors, you can start ideating and coming up with topics for your thought leadership content.
However, it’s also important to reevaluate your buyer personas and audience on a regular basis. Why? People change, needs and pain points change, and new questions will inevitably arise. Be sure to take this into consideration as you work on your thought leadership marketing plan, as it will help you stay current.
2. Have a Strong Social Media Presence
Having a strong presence on social media gives you an even better opportunity to establish yourself or your company as a thought leader and increase brand awareness. Just think about it. Your audience is already on social media and you want to speak to them, right? Social media allows you to do exactly that. You can speak directly to your audience by promoting your thought leadership content there and interacting with your audience as they engage with your content.
Additionally, you can also use social media to participate in conversations that are relevant to your industry and keep up with trends—both of which can be especially helpful when it comes time to plan your future thought leadership content calendars!
3. Identify Thought Leaders and Subject Matter Experts
Of course, the chief executive officer is the primary thought leader in your company, but it’s also important to ensure that other employees’ voices are heard too. The CEO isn’t the only person who represents your company, so why should he or she be the only thought leader?
When you begin to determine which other employees will share their voice, think about the unique experience each employee has. Who is knowledgeable enough to be considered a subject matter expert (SME) and would be comfortable with the idea of being a figurehead for your company in the form of providing commentary, writing whitepapers, or creating other types of content?
Creating thought leadership content can be especially time-consuming because it requires a significant amount of research, no matter how much experience the thought leader or subject matter expert has. It’s also wise to consider that there are agencies for this reason. They can often help with anything from B2B brand strategy to conducting interviews with SMEs and ghostwriting content for you.
4. See What Your Competitors Are Doing
Are your competitors creating thought leadership content too? If the answer’s yes, head right over to their socials and blog and see what they’re doing. Ask questions like:
- Where are they posting their content?
- How many pieces of thought leadership content have they created?
- How often are they posting about their content?
- What are they doing that we could do better?
- What are they missing that we could create content on?
If you find out that they’re already making content on a topic you were planning to address, don’t let that stop you! In fact, it can be beneficial for your own brand awareness to develop similar (read: not identical) content to your competition, especially if theirs is already popular. If you have trouble coming up with content ideas and topics, tools like BuzzSumo can be incredibly useful.
5. Adapt, Adapt, Adapt
One of the most exciting things about being a marketer is that things are always changing. Just like the other tactics you’ve put into play, your thought leadership plan should also adapt according to things like industry trends, evolving audiences, new topics of importance, and changes to your products and services.
If you post a piece of content to your blog or promote it on your social platforms and new questions or concerns arise, those should be taken into consideration. It’s important to be open to these new discussions as they can provide new insights into other areas of focus.
Make an Impact with B2B Thought Leadership
To influence top B2B decision makers and buyers to purchase your products or services, reinforcing your reputation as a leading mind by creating compelling, unique, and impactful thought leadership content is vital. And with the right thought leadership plan in place, it’s a lot less daunting than it seems.
As you continue refining your marketing strategies, download the 2021 B2B Marketing Mix Report as a resource and guide for other B2B trends and tactics your peers are considering in 2021.
If you’d like some assistance getting started, we help B2B companies strategize and create marketing plans every day. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us!