I have been working in B2B marketing for over 20 years in a company with a 40 year legacy, and still I did not consider myself a Thought Leader until I started to listen to my clients. Several clients commented that our discussions gave them several ideas to act upon. So here I am writing about various B2B marketing topics to help companies make the best decision for their unique brand.
Two Major Hurdles To Get Over To Be A Inspiring Thought Leader
- Believe you are a Thought Leader! Several of my clients feel the same way I did, that they are not a Thought Leader or have anything exciting to talk or write about. You know your industry better than anyone else and I am sure you answer questions everyday. Start to write or comment about these questions because if one person has a particular question, I am sure there are several other people that have similar questions and they are looking for answers.
- Why? The older companies I work with all question Why they needed to post content. They have been in the industry for years and everyone knows their company. Times are changing and you have to inform people about your industry and current trends.
68% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online. (Forrester)
Here are some best practice principles to follow when using Thought Leadership marketing to enhance your brand awareness. Reach the right people with the right information that will resonate with them.
#1 Know your target audience.I mean really KNOW them, not just title and industry, but what do they like to read, what shows do they go to, what is their concerns or problems and what their interests are. For me, when I started to look at one of our segments, I was able to create a detailed picture of whom I should have in mind when creating content for that group -
- Women with Title: Marketing Directors
- Small to Midsize companies
- Organized and can multi-task
- Workout regularly
- Age 35+ who are trying to handle it all, family and work.
- These women are trying to find simplicity and peace in their lives while doing a great job at work and showing their family the LOVE!
You know your target audience, now just put the picture together so that you will be talking directly to them. Quality not Quantity - you would rather have 200 really good contacts that will share ideas and thoughts then 7,000 people that might be remotely interested.
#2 Create useful content.
When creating content, think about what issues your target audience has and make it specific to them. If you take time to segment your list make sure you have content that resonates with the different segments.
For example, instead of creating content around broad questions or topics try to make them more granular so they are found by the right people that would be most interested. Here are a few examples -
#3 Make sure you post content regularly.
Posting content is like a train that starts slow, but the longer it goes, the faster it gets. You need to be publishing content regularly so that your Thought Leadership marketing starts to build momentum and is seen by all the right people at the right time. Allocate your budget, putting 25% toward creating and 75% towards distribution. If you spend most of your budget on creating and not getting it distributed to the right people at the right time, you will be wasting your money.
BONUS: Make sure everything you do is authentic and reinforces your company's brand purpose.
#4 Publishing your content on different channels.
Publishing on different channels will help you determine what resonates best with the audience that is most likely to become customers. Most people talk about inbound marketing but do not disregard traditional marketing channels, especially direct mail campaigns. Direct mail campaigns have been very responsive, and because people inboxes are being so inundated with messages, a mail campaign gets more eyes for a more extended period. Chart supplied by ANA
Over the years I have been able see different demographics that like postal campaigns versus digital and I am not just talking about people that are older. Top executives in pharmaceutical manufacturing companies respond better to direct mail than any other channel.
Also, I have been able to conclude that engineers like text written messages better than image HTML messages. The more variety of messaging you do across different channels will help you find common denominators that will ensure you reach your marketing goals.
So do you think you are a Thought Leader?
Have you let your target audience determine that you are a Thought Leader?
If you would like to discuss your specific industry and how you can implement a specific niche content strategy, feel free to call 860-210-8088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.