What is Thought Leadership and Why Do you Need It?
During the one-hour “tweetchat” that occurs every Friday from 12-1pm EST, there was a great dialogue on the definition, the need and the value of Thought Leadership.
If you write a personal blog or help manage your company’s blog, you already know the value that blogging can provide as a tool for Thought Leadership.
I’ve been discussing the need for Content Strategy in B2B Marketing for some time now. But here I will share some of the insights from the discussion as well as 5 steps to create thought leadership that drives real results…
What is Thought Leadership?
To me, Thought Leadership is all about having the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your buyers. It can also include your unique perspective on hot topics relevant for your customers. The key here is that the agenda is set by your audience. They determine what is important.
It can be difficult to give up this control over to your buyers. But the fact is that they already have the control. And we can all benefit when we allow our audience to set the agenda and then just go with it.
Why is Thought Leadership important?
Thought leadership is important for both B2C and B2B companies but I think it is especially important in B2B. This is because of the complexity of the decision-making process in B2B environments and the large number of people involved. Thought leadership content can help anyone involved in the business decision making process to gain alignment across their company regarding the problems they are facing. It can help them to “name” the problem.
For us marketers, Thought Leadership allows us to define the category of our solution. As I said during the tweetchat, “branding is all about being associated with the questions” our buyers are asking.
Where does Thought Leadership come from?
Thought Leadership can come from any source – executives, customers, product managers, designers, customer service reps, sales people. We all have knowledge, experience and a point of view. But ultimately, thought leaders need to inspire our buyers to act – to take the next step in their journey. Of course, the challenge is in the telling!
What are the benefits of Thought Leadership?
The benefits of Thought leadership start with brand affinity. By communicating thought leadership you become part of the conversation, early in the buying journey. You allow your audience to get to know you.
Thought Leadership can drive engagement with larger numbers of potential customers. It’s easy to quantify the number of people searching on your product’s category terms than on your product names. Speak to those folks in the early stages and you will see the contribution of conversion to real revenue directly from your website sky rocket.
Ultimately, Thought Leadership is one of the outcomes of a Content Strategy. And content is bigger than marketing. Leaders are everywhere. Expose your thought leaders and you begin the process of becoming a social business – real people with real faces talking to real customers and buyers.
How do you create Thought Leadership that drives real results?
According to MarketingProf’s Megan Leap, here are 5 ideas for creating thought leadership content that drives sales:
- Conduct and share research: she says “providing research allows your company to become a source of information and online content.”
- Entertain and Delight: Megan advises marketers to “inject personality and humor into your content. Prospects will be more likely to remember you, and, when they do decide to evaluate solutions, you’ll be top of mind.”
- Interview the Product Team: to develop trust in your organization and provide some of the interesting back story on products.
- Invite Customers to Participate: I love the idea of interviewing customers to create content.
- Remove the curtain between thought leaders and customers: as Megan says, “nothing says “I’m a leader” better than having a few dozen people seek your advice in a group setting.”
Now tell me what do you think? What does Thought Leadership mean to you?
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