According to the recently released 2020 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, the vast majority of B2B decision makers surveyed say strong thought leadership content not only strengthens a company’s reputation in their mind, but can positively impact getting a seat at the RFP table and ultimately sales wins. In fact, 89% of decision makers said effective use enhances their perception of an organization.
B2B decision makers also say they count on this type of content to vet a company’s capabilities. Nearly 60% said an organization’s thought leadership is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities than marketing materials or product sheets.
Lack of Quality Expert Content Out There
Interestingly, while thought leadership content can be a powerful way to connect with decision makers, a mere 17% of the respondents in the Edelman-LinkedIn study rated the quality as very good or excellent. That’s not good news. But it represents a clear opportunity for businesses to prioritize high-value content that leverages your unique experts.
In her post, Five Thought Leadership Trends That Will Impact Your Strategy, marketer Wendy Marx noted that because of the sheer volume of content they consume regularly, business decision makers are pickier than ever about content. She cited a study from Grist on The Value of B2B Thought Leadership that surveyed 200+ senior executives. What turned them off most about thought leadership?
- Too generic (63%)
- Lacked original content or ideas (58%)
- Promoted the adviser rather than addressing my problems (53%)
At OMS, we support a number of clients on content strategy and thought leadership programs. So what’s the secret sauce to high quality content development?
Number one, focus on engaging your audience and provide insights that helps solve a challenge or problem that your readers have. Your content should be issues-based so that it’s relevant and useful. Write it from first-hand perspective, positioning you as an authority on the topic at hand. Don’t directly promote your brand or a particular product; leave that objective for brochures, product sheets or sales materials.
Tell Stories with Real World Impact
B2B audiences want content that educates but also tells stories related to real-world experiences. More than customer testimonials, they’re seeking case studies that outline business challenges and tangible solutions. For example, how a company innovated by deploying a new technology to help solve a problem they’ve encountered in their current marketplace or in entering a new one. Also critical? Back these stories up with metrics and data that prove the value.
Finally, the human touch is also important. In Thought Leadership Trends to Watch in 2020, Longitude, a Financial Times Company predicted brands will reveal more personality and emotion in expert content this year. The idea that B2B content needs to be rational rather than emotional is long past its sell date, yet many marketers still haven’t embraced the opportunity. Building an emotional connection with your audience is crucial – via content that addresses real challenges or fears, rather than just the rational side of decision making.
Looking for advice on how to improve your approach to content? We offer a wide range of marketing services designed to support organizations just like yours! Reach out to us via social or email, we’d love to talk.
Author: Suzette Sexton, Senior Vice President, Outlook Marketing Services