Thought leadership is a critical part of B2B inbound marketing. No matter which field you're in, standing out as an influential voice that drives conversations should be a pillar of your marketing strategy. Traditionally, B2B selling has always been about face-to-face meetings, product demos, and in-person sales calls.
Thanks to B2B consumer buying patterns changing, thought leadership has become one of the ways a prospect evaluates you. A 2020 study into thought leadership impact conducted by Edelman and LinkedIn threw up some interesting results.
Business leaders mentioned that strong thought leadership content impacts RFP invitations, increases cross-selling, and impacts pricing decisions, aside from strengthening a company's reputation. Thought leadership cuts the other way as well. A poorly executed strategy will harm your company.
So how do you go about building a robust thought leadership strategy? Here are 4 powerful tips.
Talk About the Right Stuff
Great content begins with knowing what to talk about. Keyword research tends to point the way forward in B2C, but B2B buyers don't always search for product-relevant keywords. Many search phrases tend to be information-seeking which doesn't fully reveal search intent.
Social media is your best friend when taking the pulse of your industry. Twitter is a gold mine of information and secondary conversations on sites such as Quora and Reddit will help you figure out what kind of a story you ought to weave into your content. LinkedIn is the premier B2B marketing tool and monitoring conversations in groups and announcements offers a ton of insight.
There's no shortage of volume out there so a search of relevant topics is bound to throw up something interesting. Employing Brian Dean's Skyscraper Technique is a great way to repurpose content and offer a fresh take on existing topics. The way it works is simple.
Look at the highest-ranking posts on a topic and figure out where the holes are. It's close to impossible for a single post to cover every aspect of an issue. Poke holes in it and you'll begin to form a list of talking points of your own. Additionally, offer even more information and be more helpful.
Once you've figured out your talking points, take a look at the "People Also Ask" section on Google's search results page. These questions point to related searches. If none of the existing articles address them, go ahead and do so in your article. Put all of these tips together and you'll effortlessly create content that is fresh and relevant.
Revisit Your Questions
Revisiting old content is something that few teams do, unfortunately. Questions change over time as a market evolves. Customer needs change and old content goes stale. Revisiting not just your content, but the underlying thesis behind your content clusters will give you some valuable perspective.
Updating old content with new information or even changing your stance on an issue is a great way of directing the conversation in your sphere. I'm not saying you should be controversial just for the sake of it. Instead, don't be afraid to revise your position in the face of evidence.
Dive deeply into the reasons for changing a position and back it up with research. Revisiting old content also solves a perennial issue content teams have: Creating fresh content. Common content repurposing tactics are tired and boring. There's only so much you can borrow from your competition and existing collateral.
Revisit your old assumptions and view them in the light of current events. You'll find that your content will automatically generate conversations.
Ever noticed a dapper Dan walking down the street? Did you pay attention to the average Joe walking right beside them? Well, the same principle applies to your content. Your content has to have a tone and should be anything but plain vanilla.
It's sad to say this but most people pay no attention to content that doesn't resonate emotionally with them, no matter how relevant and well thought out the points in it might be. It's why controversial content sells and why marketing teams figure out ways to address these issues.
However, you don't want to be controversial just for the sake of it. Violate the boundaries of controversy and you'll come across as a troll. Instead, you want to clearly establish your voice and let everyone know what your opinions are.
Think of the internet as a large town hall where everyone is screaming from a pulpit. The loudest person usually gains attention. However, being loud isn't the only way to get noticed. Interjecting during pauses, consistently sticking to your theme, and asking pertinent questions will get you noticed as well.
So don't think you need to be the biggest, baddest baddie in the room. Talk about your subject intelligently and let people know what you think. You'll end up attracting the right crowd to you and dominate your portion of the web.
Build a Strategy
Thought leadership is a strategy unto itself, right? Well, it is but you have to marry it with your broader content marketing strategy. For instance, how well does your thought leadership content tie with your webinars and event calendar? Does it blend well with your pillar content?
Thought leadership can become mere link building if you don't integrate it within a larger strategy. Remember that your aim is to build authority, not just gather backlinks. Evaluate your content publishing process and plan everything in advance.
Building Authority, One Step at a Time
Building authority in your niche takes time but it's worth the investment. In B2B industries, authority is what sells products and services. Without it, you can talk about how great your product is but it's not going to sell. Follow these tips and you'll notice that people in your niche will gradually begin to view you in a different light.