How To Make Thought Leadership Content Thoughtful and Leading

Thought management content material? It’s a standard a part of the job, however do you do it nicely?

Too many B2B manufacturers don’t, says Lisa Gately, principal analyst at Forrester.

She advisable some issues you are able to do to alter that in her Content Marketing World 2022 talk, Most Thought Leadership Isn’t Thoughtful or Leading: We Need to Fix That.

One factor to bear in mind earlier than you dive into her recommendation: Expect to play the lengthy recreation.

“Thought leadership serves brand equity goals,” Lisa says. “And that’s going to be built up over months and years.”

Definition of nice thought management

Thought management is just not a one-off marketing campaign, a set of a content material advertising and marketing workforce’s collateral, or a method.

So what’s it?

Lisa defines thought management as “an intentional exercise of knowledge, skills, and expertise to increase awareness, elevate perception, and drive preference related to key issues that an audience cares about.”

The key a part of that definition? Addressing a problem your viewers truly cares about.

Thought leadership addresses an issue your audience actually cares about, says @LisaGately of @Forrester via @GregLevinsky @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

According to Forrester research in 2021, 63% of tech consumers say vendor content material focuses extra on model than substance, and two-thirds say the content material is biased towards the seller. Their disappointments are ones probably skilled by many kinds of B2B consumers.

The function of thought management is to quell, not exacerbate, these points.

Thought management content material can meet a necessity consumers crave – forgoing direct self-serving functions and showcasing an organization’s experience supported by credible, data-driven sources, Lisa says.

4 dimensions of profitable thought management

A robust thought management platform stems from an “outside-in approach” – starting with market and viewers components, not the group’s product or inside necessities. Plan for an 18- to 24-month dedication, Lisa says.

Commit 18 to 24 months to develop a successful thought leadership program, says @LisaGately of @Forrester via @GregLevinsky @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Four components make up thought management success – market context, viewers insights, company alignment, and organizational readiness. Lisa particulars every:

1. Market context

Understand what’s taking place within the market. Market context will be damaged into three components – market curiosity, theme sturdiness, and aggressive presence:

  • Market curiosity: Research trade conversations internally and externally, significantly round your rivals, throughout myriad channels. This analysis helps decide the place your organization’s voice matches into the dialog.
  • Theme sturdiness: Because thought management is an ongoing content material advertising and marketing train, establish and companion with inside and exterior material consultants. Your SMEs needs to be engaged to make sure the content material’s theme will be deliberate for not less than a yr.
  • Competitive presence: Look at different areas within the market. Lisa suggests reviewing rivals’ content material, monitoring their patent filings and research-and-development exercise, and partnering with the aggressive intelligence workforce to do a full-scale sweep.

2. Audience insights

Tailoring your content material themes to what your viewers desires to devour units your thought management on the trail to success. Detail this perception into three components – theme relevance, shopping for course of help, and buyer proof.

  • Theme relevance: Test matters with buyer advisory boards or companion networks. Their enter may help present extra confidence behind the work you’re doing (or point out you might wish to revisit the theme.)
  • Buying course of help: Map your themes to the steps within the purchaser’s journey.
  • Customer proof: Seek strategies and enter on potential matters from the supposed viewers, and you’ll be extra more likely to hook them in once you publish the content material, particularly if these viewers members are included into the thought management – a apply referred to as buyer advocacy advertising and marketing.

3. Corporate alignment

Positioning your organization as an knowledgeable on a thought management theme begins together with your SMEs. Fame and reputation usually are not a prerequisite for SMEs. Credibility is vital. It encompasses three components – theme experience, company alignment, and govt help.

  • Theme experience: Selected inside or exterior SMEs needs to be educated concerning the themes.
  • Corporate alignment: Engage with leaders in advertising and marketing, gross sales, authorized, product, and so on., to provoke your colleagues across the thought management themes.
  • Executive help: Ensure the thought management program matches into the corporate’s ethos.

Successful thought management themes stand the check of time and line up with what the corporate does. Lisa says, “If you’re choosing something that’s just a reach too far, it’ll be hard to activate it and get the results you’re expecting.”

Successful thought leadership themes stand the test of time and line up with what the company does, says @LisaGately of @Forrester via @GregLevinsky @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

4. Organizational readiness

A thought management program isn’t applied in a single day. Communicate and get settlement upfront to the stakeholders {that a} profitable thought management program requires investments in time and assets.

Organizational readiness divides into three components – time to worth, funds, and workforce:

  • Time to worth: Start with the view it’s the long-term, multi-year funding centered totally on brand-building goals.
  • Budget: Align expectations with assets and use benchmark knowledge to construct a plan for the assets wanted.
  • Team: Build your schedule correctly. Make certain everybody concerned considers thought management as a part of their job, not only a shiny object on the facet.

Assess your organization’s thought management program

As you enhance your thought management program, it is sensible to judge your themes. Lisa suggests making a thought management theme scorecard with enter from a cross-functional thought management workforce. It may help you perceive the present themes and establish which presents one of the best alternative to realize traction.

Here’s how she suggests creating that scorecard:

  • Label columns – dimension, issue, description, and rating. (You can also add two columns to weight the rankings – weighting [as shown by a percentage] and weighted rating.)
  • In the dimension column, add a drop-down menu of the 4 dimensions – market context, consumers and prospects, company alignment, and organizational readiness.
  • In the subsequent two columns, record the associated issue and description.
  • In the subsequent column, add a drop-down menu with the rating choices – one, two, three, 4, and 5.
  • The final two columns assist you to assess the significance of every issue – weighting (as a share) and weighted rating.

Click to enlarge

Here’s how every line of the standardized scorecard seems (minus the rating):

  • Market context – market curiosity – There is rising curiosity within the theme amongst nonbuyer market members and influencers.
  • Market context – theme sturdiness – The anticipated longevity of the theme is excessive.
  • Market context – aggressive presence – There is ample alternative to assert a standpoint.
  • Buyers and prospects – theme relevance – The theme is instantly related to the wants of all kinds of consumers and prospects.
  • Buyers and prospects – shopping for course of help – The theme instantly helps a key phrase of the shopping for course of.
  • Buyers and prospects – buyer proof – The group has present or former prospects that can be utilized to help the theme.
  • Corporate alignment – theme experience – The group has consultants or distinctive knowledge that may help the theme.
  • Corporate alignment – company alignment – The theme is aligned to the group’s abilities and identification.
  • Corporate alignment – govt help – The group’s executives are keen to help the theme.
  • Organizational readiness – time to worth – The expectations for thought management are practical for when it’s going to ship worth (18 to 24 months).
  • Organizational readiness – funds – The mandatory assets and funds are in place to execute in opposition to objectives and goals.
  • Organizational readiness – workforce – There is a devoted workforce with acknowledged tasks for thought management applications.

Go by way of line by line and give every a score of 1 to 5, with one being very low and 5 being very excessive.

Then, add up the rating for every issue and calculate the weighted rating.

“The long and short of it is, the highest weighted score gives you the best themes,” Lisa says. “If you’re trying to explain to people why you selected your themes, this gives you a repeatable method, something that’s much more objective.”

Once you’ve recognized the themes, have interaction together with your SMEs to create profitable thought management content material, integrating it all through the customer’s journey, gross sales and advertising and marketing cycles.

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Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute