As buyers have become more cautious and difficult to influence with traditional communications and marketing, B2B companies are increasingly using thought leadership to engage buyers earlier. Simply put, thought leadership should involve providing customers with information and insight — that they can’t or don’t have time to get themselves—which allows them to make smarter decisions.
But rather than meaningfully differentiating the company or product, most though leadership content merely informs customers of performance and benefits. Though it may satisfy buyers due diligence needs, the bottom line is that this content wont increases likelihood of sale because it falls to change purchase criteria to the company’s advantage.
Last week, our sister program the Marketing Leadership Council hosted a webinar on how to rethink thought leadership content strategies to ensure your messages stand out and establish the type of engagement and mindshare that translates to sales results.
Their research has found that thought leadership content must meet five key criteria to stand out: credible, clear, concrete, personally impactful and insightful. But they aren’t all weighted equally.
All good thought leadership content aims to be concrete, consistent, and credible. But few companies hit the mark for clarifying personal impact and presenting new unexpected insight.
So rather than getting caught up in standard content attributes, leading companies focus on developing content that conveys provocative insight into the customers’ world, demonstrating how the supplier’s unique differentiators ultimately solve a customer’s business objectives.
Effective thought leadership content teaches customers something new and establishes clear links back to suppliers’ advantages. For content to be effective at reframing customers’ decision criteria to the company’s benefit, it must:
- Cut through clutter with personally impactful content – Stand out from other messages with targeted, relevant, important, and unexpected information. You must focus in on the specific effect of your idea for the individual within the company that you need to influence.
- Connect to differentiators through unexpected insight – Link back to the nature and value of your unique capabilities and competitive advantage. Insightful content illuminates unknown or under-appreciated aspects of the customer’s environment. Use the three key elements of insighfulness to see if you’re maximize impact of your content:
- Surprises: The unexpectedness grabs peoples’ attention
- Sparks Curiosity: The idea creates an information gap that keeps the listener engaged
- Delivers Differentiated Value: Offers a unique viewpoint that the listener can’t get elsewhere
Listen to the webinar playback and download the presentation materials to learn more about the latest on thought leadership, including recommended resources for CEC members.
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