The Ultimate Guide to Thought Leadership in B2B Marketing for 2023
Why did the thought leader bring a ladder to the conference? Because they heard the networking opportunities were “up” there, and they weren’t about to miss out on elevating their influence!
With a chuckle-worthy start, let’s explore the remarkable world of thought leadership and how it can propel your B2B endeavours to unprecedented heights.
We recently ran a webinar on thought leadership, embedded below, where you will hear from Dylan Kohlstadt and other experts discussing thought leadership in detail.
What is Thought Leadership?
Thought leadership involves recognised experts in a field who offer valuable insights, innovative ideas, and forward-thinking perspectives on industry trends. Effective communication and sharing through various channels – such as articles, blogs, events, and social media – inspire and influence others, makes thought leaders influential and positions them as trusted sources of information.
Top Benefits of Thought Leadership:
- Credibility and Authority:
Establishing yourself or your organisation as a thought leader in a specific field or industry enhances your credibility and authority. Others will view you as an expert, leading to increased trust and respect from peers, customers, and stakeholders.
- Visibility and Brand Awareness:
Thought leaders often receive more attention and visibility in their respective industries. This can lead to heightened brand awareness, as people recognise and associate your name or organisation with valuable insights and innovative ideas.
- Networking Opportunities:
Thought leadership provides a platform for networking and connecting with other professionals, influencers, and decision-makers in your field. This can lead to valuable collaborations, partnerships, and opportunities for growth.
- Influence and Impact:
Thought leaders have the ability to shape opinions, drive conversations, and influence the direction of their industry. By sharing unique insights and perspectives, you can contribute to meaningful discussions and impact the way others think and act.
- Business Growth and Opportunities:
Thought leadership can directly contribute to business growth by attracting new clients, customers, and partners who are drawn to your expertise. It can also lead to speaking engagements, media coverage, and invitations to participate in high-profile events.
6 Steps to Create a Winning Thought Leadership Strategy
Remember, building thought leadership takes time and consistent effort. It’s essential to remain authentic, provide value, and engage with your audience to establish credibility and influence in your industry.
- Understand Your Audiences:
- Define your target audience(s) for your thought leadership content. Understand their needs, challenges, and preferences.
- Develop detailed buyer personas to guide your content creation process.
- Research and Analyse:
- Stay up-to-date with industry trends, news, and emerging topics.
- Conduct thorough research on your chosen topic to gain deep insights and a unique perspective.
- Analyse competitors’ thought leadership efforts to identify gaps and opportunities.
- Identify Your Thought Leaders:
- Determine who in your organisation has expertise and insights relevant to your chosen topic.
- Recognise external experts who can contribute to your thought leadership efforts through collaborations, interviews, or guest posts.
- Create Content:
- Develop high-quality, insightful, and original content that addresses the challenges and interests of your target audience. This could include articles, whitepapers, case studies, videos, podcasts, webinars, and more.
- Provide unique insights, perspectives, and actionable advice that set you apart as a thought leader.
- Ensure your content is well-researched, factually accurate, and well-written.
- Distribute and Promote:
- Utilise various channels to distribute your thought leadership content, such as your company website, blog, social media, industry publications, and relevant online communities.
- Tailor your content for each platform and audience to maximise engagement.
- Collaborate with influencers and partners to amplify your reach.
- Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of your thought leadership efforts. These could include metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, shares, comments, lead generation, and more.
- Regularly analyse and assess the impact of your thought leadership content. Adjust your strategy based on the insights you gather.
New LinkedIn Updates That WIll Impact Your Thought Leadership Strategy
LinkedIn’s concept of ‘success’ has evolved. The focus now shifts from superficial metrics like likes and followers to resonating with the right audience through valuable content. Virality takes a back seat as LinkedIn strives to be a tailored digital workspace, catering uniquely to specific professional audiences.
- Precision in Audience Targeting:
LinkedIn’s algorithm dissects each post’s relevance to a specific audience. Whether it’s a B2B marketing insight or another niche, success hinges on benefiting your intended audience.
- Elevating Expertise:
The algorithm values credibility. Stepping outside your expertise could limit your reach, highlighting the importance of staying within your field.
- Meaningful Interaction Trumps Quantity:
Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn favours meaningful engagement over a deluge of comments. Comments that contribute insightfully to discussions gain the algorithm’s favour.
- Valuing Opinion and Perspective:
Thoughtful engagement takes precedence over mere comment quantity. Posts featuring profound, constructive comments take centre stage in algorithmic promotion.
Why Choose LinkedIn for Your Thought Leadership Effforts?
- LinkedIn’s Wide Influence: With 61 million senior-level influencers and 65 million decision-makers using LinkedIn, the platform holds immense power in the professional realm. It’s a top choice for 91% of marketing executives seeking quality content.
Notably, 98% of Fortune 500 companies have embraced LinkedIn for their social media needs.
- Targeted Engagement: LinkedIn boasts a stronghold among 25–34-year-olds, and users spend an average of around 7.5 minutes on the platform. For B2B marketers, it’s a pivotal content distribution channel, with a usage rate of 94%.
- LinkedIn’s Cleansing Approach: Post-pandemic, LinkedIn has undertaken a cleanup initiative, focusing on setting itself apart from Facebook-like content. The algorithm’s transformation now centres on showcasing cleaner and more pertinent content.
- Enhanced Visibility to Followers: A positive shift has occurred—your followers are now more likely to see your content. Growing your follower count directly translates to increased reach on the platform.
- Prioritising Intrinsic Value: Emphasis lies on content that offers true value. No longer will generic information suffice; the content must deliver both knowledge and actionable advice.
Best Example of Successful Thought Leadership
DK, led by Dylan Kohlstadt, is thought leadership in action. DK’s insightful blogs and captivating podcasts position Dylan at the front and centre of the brand, and are designed not just for entertainment but also to provide valuable guidance on entrepreneurship and business management.
DK is also active on Facebook. Here, Dylan has created a lively community where followers can get timely updates and engage in meaningful discussions. For the more visual learner, DK’s YouTube channel also has a wealth of enlightening resources.
A key success factor in DK’s thought leadership approach is Dylan’s commitment to sharing knowledge through regular webinars tailored for B2B businesses, through Dylan’s digital marketing agency Shift ONE. These webinars feature Dylan in conversation with other experts on hot topics in the realm of B2B marketing.
Does Thought Leadership Convert?
Thought leadership isn’t a “get sales quick” process. Over time, cultivating a robust network will attract individuals eager to glean insights from authoritative figures and cultivate a sense of belonging within a community. Depending on your audience and your goals, you’ll want to share different content:
- Create content that resonates with your immediate network and you’ll attract individuals seeking to gain insights from knowledgeable figures, while fostering a sense of belonging and community.
- Prioritise data-driven insights, and you’ll appeal to those who prioritise the precision and trustworthiness of empirical proof.
- Highlight your expertise to capture the interest of individuals aspiring to attain a level of proficiency similar to yours in your field.
- Share your personal experiences to resonate with those who connect with your journey and narrative.
- Present your opinions to engage individuals who share a similar perspective on your industry.
Do you want to create a thought leadership strategy that works for your specific business and leaders? Explore Shift ONEs thought leadership management packages for step-by-step guidance.