Thought leadership has long been an undervalued aspect of a company’s brand strategy.
This is despite the fact that a recent Forrester study demonstrated thought leadership has a greater impact on the ideas of potential buyers above all other forms of content marketing.
So what is thought leadership? Why is it so crucial to the success of your company’s branding efforts?
Thought Leadership is the process of producing content that illustrates a deep knowledge and understanding of the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience. It can also take the form of giving unique perspectives on current hot topics in your particular industry.
Thought leadership pieces are attributed to leaders, principals and other senior figures within a company, even if they are ghost-written by another member of staff or an outside source. It has become a critical lead magnet in a modern world saturated with information.
Whilst other aspects of your company branding may focus on the features and benefits of your product or service, thought leadership helps to position your brand as an expert in its field. During the buyer journey, they are searching for information to support their decision as the navigate competitive waters.
Think about it, the last time you didn’t know the answer to a question...did you Goggle it? Did you recognize the source behind the answer? Did you find yourself then being led down a rabbit hole of information surrounding the topic? Maybe you hit the subscribe button or shared and article? Maybe you bookmarked or took a screenshot of the source to keep them top of mind for future reference?
THATS the effect of though leadership.
This is usually led by one or many key individuals within an organization. For instance, as CEO, Elon Musk is well known for his thoughts on space exploration (to Mars in particular), which helps to enhance the company brand of SpaceX.
Whilst this is important in a B2C context, the effects of a great thought leadership content can be felt even more in a B2B setting, where buying decisions are complex and involve several people.
35% of all B2B buyers spend 1- 3 hours a week reading thought leadership content online and 83% of them believe thought leadership helps to build trust with a company.
Therefore, if you are selling to another business, not having thought leadership as an integral part of your company’s digital branding strategy is going to leave you dead in the water. Tactical professionals may question the immediate ROI of thought leadership but strategic marketing professionals know that holding on to a prospects attention is paramount to success.
This tactic is an investment of time, but helps you to more strongly qualify leads and bring them further along their buyer journey before the sales team attempts to hook them on a product or service you offer. Would you rather buy from a company that you’re familiar with or a company that you’re not familiar with? Think about how much longer marketing is going to take to warm up that prospect and how much more education the sales team is ging to have to employ before closing? Great thought leadership content doesn’t just enhance B2B brands, it can give your company brand the edge with traditional consumers too.
Thought leadership tightens up the marketing to sales to purchase timeline.
Authenticity is a growing desire amongst American consumers. We now live in an age where customers can see straight through one-dimensional advertising campaigns and have access to a plethora of online information that can punch holes in any false marketing claims.
Customers of the top American brands have stated that authenticity is one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand. Authentic brands also have a larger share of high-value customers.
Thought leadership is a perfect place for a company’s leader to showcase individual authenticity by giving humorous opinions and witty deductions on topics that matter to everyday customers.
The opportunity to gain authenticity is biggest for CEOs of companies, since 63% of citizens globally state that CEOs are not at all, or only somewhat credible.
There are many different ways to approach thought leadership, but the best content tends to fall into two main categories.
Research or opinion.
Research pieces perform better in a B2B context.
By undertaking a study or research and sharing the results with your target audience, you can cement your position as a thought leader in your industry and win invitations to speaking events, further cementing your company branding.
Similarly, opinion pieces on current hot topics accomplish similar results in a B2C setting.
By writing an entertaining and funny piece, consumers will remember you and look at your products or services not necessarily because they have heard of your company brand, but because they like you as a person.
Having an opinion piece go viral can lead to interviews on popular platforms and television stations, increasing the amount of eyeballs on your brand.
Running a company can be difficult enough, without the added pressure of having to come up with interesting or entertainingly opinionated content.
That’s why our team at Successment are on hand to help you to craft thought leadership content that contributes to the success of your company’s overall branding strategy.
To learn more about how our thought leadership services can help you as a leader of your business, check out our CEO Module.