B2B thought leaders are some of the most influential individuals in the business. People look to them for the latest industry news, innovative ideas, and new ways to grow their businesses.
Utilizing thought leadership content to promote and grow your business is a great way to stand out from the competition and establish trust with your audience.
However, without a good thought leadership strategy, it’s difficult to stand out and make an impact. So, in this post, we’ll show you how to establish yourself and your brand as a thought leader, and how this can help grow your business.
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Thought leadership is a specific type of content marketing that involves providing the best answers and solutions in your industry. Thought leaders are at the forefront of industry trends, knowledge, and practices and audiences flock to them for expert information.
Thought leaders don’t need degrees or specific qualifications to become leaders in their field, but instead, stand out for their continued commitment to bringing their audience the latest ideas and data.
Both brands and individuals can be thought leaders within specific industries, though it’s usually individuals acting as brand ambassadors that are most well-known (e.g. Gary Vaynerchuk, Christy Wright, Seth Godin, etc.).
Benefits of thought leadership
There are four key benefits of investing the time into becoming a thought leader in your niche.
Build trust with your audience
By becoming a thought leader in your industry, you form a connection with prospects early on in their buying journey. By becoming part of the conversation in those early stages, you solidify your brand as the best solution when it comes time for them to make a purchase decision.
When a customer comes across your brand in their research for a product or service, they’ll already recognize you as a thought leader and instantly establish trust that will most likely be lacking with competitors.
By using confident, authoritative thought leadership content that emulates the voice of your audience, you show your audience you understand their pain points and foster a social business that prospects will be keen to do business with.
Establish a market
In any B2B industry, there will be stiff competition. Thought leadership content marketing is a way to stand out from the competition and position yourself as a subject matter expert in your niche.
Starting thought-provoking conversations and challenging the status quo sets your business apart, and once you’ve captured the attention of leads, it becomes easier to retain your own market share and market to that pool of prospects.
When customer retention begins to decrease, it’s hard to retake market share. Being a thought leader helps differentiate your business, boost your retention rate, and keep you ahead of your competitors.
In the B2B space, being a perceived authority will give you that competitive edge. If a buyer is making a choice between you and a competitor and finds that you regularly post educational content, well-researched articles, and original insights, they are much more likely to choose you.
Improve customer engagement
B2B buyers like to feel part of the company conversation because they are looking for new ideas, research, and innovations for their own businesses. By discussing trends, industry news, and new ideas, you encourage engagement and create a culture your ideal clients want to become part of.
Thought leadership is one of the most relevant content marketing strategies and consistently keeps your business at the front of your prospects’ minds. Not to mention you’ll be able to tap in directly to your audience to figure out what’s influencing buyer behavior and adjust your content accordingly.
Improved lead generation opportunities
The key benefit of thought leadership in marketing content is expanding your reach significantly. Having an expanded audience gives you more opportunities for outreach to improve your lead generation efforts – which should be a key goal in your business.
With our marketing tools and dedicated team at Bant.io, you’ll be able to capitalize on your new, expanded audience with automated outreach messages using our experiment-driven campaigns. This brings in new warm leads every month who have already established trust with you as a thought leader in your niche.
Thought Leadership in Content Marketing
The way to incorporate thought leadership into your content marketing is to present a depth of knowledge or point of view that no one else has.
Most businesses follow current trends on social media, but this makes them blend into the crowd. Offering a different point of view or deeper understanding of a niche topic in a relatable, easy to understand way is how you make thought leadership work for your brand.
The unique point of view trap
The difficulty with using thought leadership in your content marketing strategy is wanting to differentiate your brand all the time.
The problem is, that’s just not doable. There are going to be a lot of topics that simply don’t require a drastically different point of view or controversial thinking.
Your audience isn’t looking for your brand to be unique or differentiated all of the time. Instead, they want the best answers to their questions.
The easiest way to establish yourself as a leader through your content is to have a deep understanding of your potential customers’ key struggles and offer the most in-depth, valuable solutions in the most simplistic form.
Some of the most high-profile thought leaders have some of the simplest solutions, but they became successful by tapping into audience pain points and communicating with them well.
Who Should Use Thought Leadership Content Marketing?
Thought leadership is especially important in the B2B space because of the complexity of buying decisions in these industries.
Most large B2B companies have buying centers with multiple people, all doing their own research into buying decisions.
Thought leadership helps anyone involved in the buying process align their thinking with others and narrow down their vendor comparisons.
Because of this, any company in the B2B space can utilize thought leadership within their content marketing to better reach, engage, and nurture potential buyers.
However, larger companies should decide on a face of their thought leadership content strategy. As we’ve said before, thought leaders are usually a single person acting as a brand ambassador since customers like to put a face to the ideas and information coming from a brand.
This could be the CEO of the company or other top positions, but it could also be the marketing manager, growth manager, or another person who can lead the strategy and claim the ideas the company puts forward.
Who is this not good for?
Having said all that, thought leadership isn’t the right choice for all businesses. If you have a B2B company but prefer to remain as a brand without a face, thought leadership will be difficult to make successful.
Businesses can utilize thought leadership in their content strategy, but because it’s based on new ideas and in-depth knowledge, it’s most successful with a single person acting as the face of the strategy.
Thought Leadership Content Strategy
If thought leadership is the right strategy for your business, here are some best practices to consider when planning your content.
1. Continuously learn about your audience
A leadership content strategy will only be effective if you understand your audience’s wants, needs, and pain points. This begins with your buyer persona – who are you marketing to? What motivates, inspires, and drives that person? What answers are they looking for?
Conduct customer interviews and social media polls to get an in-depth understanding of your customers so you can create a piece of content directed at them.
Having a thought leadership position means always being on the cusp of new ideas and information, so it’s also important to continuously learn about your audience so you can bring the latest ideas and type of content that they are interested in.
2. Be consistently active on social media
It’s important to have a consistent content calendar for your social media marketing, but this is even more crucial when using thought leadership.
Your audience will begin to rely on your content for industry updates, ideas, etc., so you need to be active and engaged online more than a standard social media calendar.
Make sure you are sharing your knowledge consistently on social channels and showing up and engaging in an authentic way.
3. Publish content on multiple platforms
The more places you can show up with your content the better. As a starting point, you should be posting valuable, in-depth guides and blogs on your website. But you should also be aiming to guest post on high-authority websites, speak at events, guest host on podcasts, etc.
You should also aim for a mixture of media including blogs, videos, and audio content to ensure your message is reaching a wider audience base.
Showing up in multiple places means prospects are more likely to see you and begin to think of you as an expert – this is fundamentally how you’ll become a thought leader in your space.
4. Analyze your competitors
Are there competitors in your niche already posting thought leadership content? A competitor analysis will show you how often they’re posting, the types of insightful content they’re posting, and what is getting good engagement. You’ll also see gaps in their content that you can fill.
Although you should never copy another brand’s thought leadership content, this will give you a good starting point to establish your own content.
5. Create valuable content
Thought leadership is all about creating the very best content for your audience and speaking honestly on topics you are an expert in.
This doesn’t necessarily mean writing in-depth long-blog posts every week. It could be social media posts, videos, audio – no matter the size or length of the content, make sure every piece is valuable and has a point of view.
Niching down to a specific area of expertise will also help ensure your content is valuable every time you post. When you try to be too generic, your content gets watered down and doesn’t speak to a target market.
Niching down gives you specific areas of expertise to share your knowledge on consistently.
6. Be genuine
When you’re posting expert content, it’s easy to get caught up in chasing trends or trying too hard to be unique. But it’s important not to lose your point of view in the process. Don’t lose your authenticity posting content for the sake of being seen as a thought leader – your audience will see right through it.
Backup your information with research, stats, and encourage discussion. Be willing to change your perspective and give an honest opinion. This gives your audience something to make a genuine connection with.
Find opportunities to collaborate with other thought leaders
A great way to establish yourself as a thought leader is to collaborate with other leaders in similar fields. Aim to find thought leaders who speak to the same audience as you without being a competitor.
Arrange to guest on their podcast, do a joint webinar, or write a guest post for their site – anything to reach out to their audience and expand your reach.
A similar approach is to find industry-related podcasts, websites, newsletters, or social accounts to be featured in. These will help cement your place as an expert and grow your audience.
Turning Your Audience into New Leads
Establishing yourself or your brand as a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent work for your audience to see you as a leader in your niche.
But consistently showing up with high-quality content, new ideas, and thought-provoking information, you’ll become a thought leader and enjoy the benefits of an expanded audience that comes with it.
Once you have a new, expanded audience, it’s time to capitalize on your new prospects and turn those leads into customers.
Head to our guide on how to turn cold leads into buying customers to find out how to reach out to them effectively.