‘Thought Leadership’ is becoming a subject of increasing popularity in business-to-business sales and marketing campaigns, as tough economic conditions drive increased competition for every piece of business. Organisations are now under pressure to differentiate themselves as more than ‘just a supplier’ and contribute opinions and insight on the issues in their chosen market.
However, organisations cannot embark on a thought leadership campaign without having properly considered what the reasons are for doing so or without having a clear method for building a steady flow of relevant content.
Ashley Carr, Managing Director at Neo PR, shares his five top tips for b2b companies wanting to undertake a successful Thought Leadership campaign.
1. Find your Thought Leader
You must have access to a person who has opinions that the industry wants to hear. Thought leadership needs to be ‘talking to the market, about the market’. It needs to be informative, educational, and market changing. And it needs to be with substance. Brands shouldn’t confuse trend analysis or market statistics with thought leadership; they are fundamentally different things.
2. Build a library of material
A brand can’t embark on a campaign of thought leadership, without treating it as they would any other marketing campaign. If you’ve only loaded one bullet into the barrel when you’ve got to fire six, your campaign will fail. You’ve got to be building ideas and fleshing them out for a campaign in advance so that you don’t run dry of material half way through.
3. Slice ‘n’ Dice
You need the ability to rework your thought leadership material so that it appeals to as many different audiences as possible. One piece of thought leadership can produce many things: a complete opinion article; ‘sound bites’ can be distilled and used to comment on relevant topics in the industry; and plenty of material for blogs and social media platforms. Unfortunately, as is well documented, true thought leaders and entrepreneurs may not always be the best communicators and may tend to be quite introvert. Brands may therefore need an intermediary between the thought leader and the pipeline who can manage the generation of content (teasing out the ideas and turning them into compelling content), and manage the distribution of that content into the various channels.
4. Be Proactive
So now you have your thought leadership, you need to get it noticed. Proactively look on an intra-day basis for where those pieces could be placed; industry publications, feature comments, letters to the editor, opinion articles, the brand’s own marketing material, online exposure through blogs and social media, the options are many if you know where to look.
5. Follow up and circle back
Once you have offered out your thought leadership, continue to monitor the media for coverage. If the medium likes your material enough to use it, chances are they’ll be interested to see more. Establish good relations with social and media contacts; they want creditable, educational and informative material for their audiences and that’s what your thought leadership will be providing. Then, when you are happy with your coverage, it’s time to circle back to the start.
It’s very easy for someone to have one great idea for single thought leadership piece, but it’s the continuous generation of thought-provoking, opinion-led content that decides the success of a Thought Leadership campaign and, ultimately, raises a brand’s profile within the market.