Our parents, teachers, mentors have said it, and it still holds true: just because we think it does not mean we should share the thought aloud. The same sentiment applies to your B2B thought leadership approach. Your B2B thought leadership strategy needs to be driven by purpose and value. And as B2B buyers prepare for and respond to the lurching economic downturn, thought leadership remains a vital tool to prove the worth of your organization and its solutions.
A lot of noise exists in the thought leadership arena. Actually, in the 2022 Thought Leadership Impact Report from Edelman and LinkedIn, 4 out of 10 B2B decision makers said the marketplace is oversaturated with thought leadership.
Likely every selling organization aims for high-quality thought leadership. But is what your organization considered high-quality the same as what your buyer considers valuable? Even more, is your high-quality content standing out from all the noise? At Mereo, we follow proven approaches to help you Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® your buyer with thought leadership. Find these below.
A WINNING B2B THOUGHT LEADERSHIP APPROACH
SHOWCASE YOUR BUYER-SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE
For your thought leadership to resonate, it must be grounded in your expertise and insights into your buyer’s business and market. This is not the time and place to show off your knowledge of your own solution. Touch on topics important to them at the right time. Prove you understand their greatest challenges. Help them perform better and more efficiently in these challenging economic times. You do this, and you will catch key decision makers’ attentions and establish credibility as a trusted advisor they turn to for help when they need it in the future.
- What stands in the way of their goals, and how can they overcome them?
- What industry status quo is hindering their business growth?
- How can they navigate the economic realities of today?
- What opportunities or threats to their business are on the horizon — and how can they prepare?
DO NOT SHY AWAY FROM DIFFICULT TOPICS
Buyers want you to challenge their status quo. In fact, the Edelman and LinkedIn survey found 48% of decision makers want to see more provocative ideas that challenge their assumptions. In a recent Sales Mastery report, 75% of executive buyers indicated that they could be motivated to involve salespeople earlier in the buying process when presented with something new, risky or complex.
- What new perspectives can be brought to your buyer’s situation?
- What are others in similar situations doing that they may not be aware of?
- What innovative insights can be shared that are specific to their issues?
- What familiar information can you leverage to turn on its head for some new insight?
BE SPECIFIC AND SHARE ACTIONABLE VALUE
For your thought leadership to have true value, your buyer audience should have a clear action they can take upon reading or hearing your words. While driving buyers through your marketing funnel is important, thought leadership demands more than that. This specificity and action should also be applicable to their business practice. What small actionable insights can you impart?
- Are you presenting a solution to challenges that your buyer can act on here and now?
- How can you share real bites of value without “giving away the whole farm”?
- Can your thought leadership be found elsewhere online — or are you providing specific value based on your experiences and expertise?
- Is there a clear call-to-action for your buyer to take next to learn more or to engage your solutions (and are you including this in your content)?
BACK IT ALL UP WITH PROOF
Opinions differ from experience and insight. If you want your buyers to trust your word, you have to back it up with either credible research or your own experiences — and better yet, other buyer stories. The good news is that industry research too is saturated, and often by backing up your own thought leadership with relevant research and data, you are not only adding to your credibility but you are also alerting your buyer to new insights.
- What perspective do your thought leaders have on buyer-relevant industry research?
- What insights outside of your buyer’s industry and purview are you seeing that could affect their business?
- Can you give a voice to your current and past buyers and their experiences in your thought leadership content?
- Where can you invite outside perspectives and guest thought leaders to round out your value to your buyers?
ENABLE YOUR ORGANIZATION TO TAP INTO THIS VALUE DURING BUYER ENGAGEMENTS
You can create the highest quality thought leadership, but it is only powerful if your targeted audience is actually seeing and reading it. There are a number of approaches to increasing search engine optimization (SEO) and social engagement. And while thought leadership is driven by marketing, all other departments should be involved too. This is a collaborative effort that benefits your buyer and your entire organization. Your leadership needs to communicate this importance and their expectations of everyone’s support. And your teams can help overcome algorithms and get your content seen by tapping into buyer conversations, emails, social sharing and more.
- What social media channels are your buyers using, and how can you catch their attention with these important messages?
- How can your marketing team keep salespeople tuned into thought leadership so they can pass along relevant pieces of content throughout buyer engagements?
- Are you engaging a mix of thought leaders from your organization?
- What social selling support can your marketing team provide to salespeople to boost thought leadership content?
STAND OUT WITH SEEK TO SERVE™
When you approach thought leadership from a place of Seek to Serve, Not to Sell, you can help forge long-term bonds with your target buyer built in value, support and authenticity. Learn more about this philosophy, mindset and strategy with The Complete Sales Organization Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell.