The aim of thought leadership in the B2B space should ultimately be about building your practice, organization or business into being the top-of-mind, trusted source that your audience goes to when they are making decisions that directly affect their industry.
The market of thought leadership is saturated with tons of voices and opinions, all professing the best answers on what you should do. According to a recent study, 71% of professionals say that only less than half of the thought leadership content consumed truly provided valuable insight to them. Ouch. That said, thought leadership pieces that were seen to be high-performing seemed to be able to strike a balance for audiences, as “authoritative and provocative, yet human in tone and even fun.”
Below are our top 5 things to consider in ensuring that your thought leadership content is engaging and meaningful, and can stand out from the crowd.
Determine your differentiator and lean into it
Your brand’s differentiating expertise is what will set you apart in the market. While this might seem like a no brainer, you’ll be surprised by how many professionals are excited at the prospect of having a voice in the mix of things and want to rush to do it, but haven’t given any thought as to what they want to say. Understanding the unique value proposition of your practice or business will help guide your strategy plan for how you go to market, and in particular, how you frame your thought leadership content.
Identify your audience, listen to their concerns, then challenge them
Knowing your audience is key to understanding the daily issues they’re facing – what they’re concerned about, and how you, as a leader in the industry, can support them in navigating this. Equally important will also be identifying where most of your audience tends to lean with their choices and then inevitably hit a wall. While this will be a careful line you’ll need to walk, challenging your audience with sound ideas will set your content apart from others and allow your audience to engage with you in a different light.
Evaluate your competition
In understanding what’s happening with the competition, you get insight into what others are identifying as trends and problems, what they’re saying about it, and ultimately what they’re doing about it. Going back to the first point, understanding your competition also helps define what makes you different from the competition. Knowing the market also ensures project success.
Pay attention to industry trends but speak on topics that are less addressed
You want your thought leadership pieces to speak to topics that are “hot” and on everyone’s minds. This showcases not only your expertise but also that you’re aware of industry trends and in essence, understanding what’s on your audience’s minds and/or is new, cutting edge topics of interest. That said, if everyone in the industry is only ever cherry picking a few topics to discuss or analyze, this creates a gap in discussing new and unique ideas and topics that could be of potential interest. Fifty-four percent of respondents from the 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study survey said, “thought leadership is a critical means of drawing attention to topics the media would not cover but are still meaningful to their industries.” Don’t be afraid of addressing something new and different if you’ve identified it as a gap in your industry.
Diversify your content delivery
Although writing a blog is tried, tested and true and an important part of the arsenal when it comes to thought leadership content, don’t be afraid to explore other options for content delivery. This can include white papers and case studies, as well as developing a video series or a podcast. Diversifying your content allows your audience to engage with your content in different ways and also has the potential to engage new audiences through various types of content that is produced.
With inspiration and statistics from the following sources: