More than two-in-five B2B business development teams don't see or use editorial coverage as a sales enablement tool. As a P.R. consultancy, that stat sets alarm bells ringing, so we decided to investigate. There is a perception amongst sales teams that P.R. collateral, particularly thought leadership, is just noise, air cover and vain shouting.
And in many cases, this perception can be a reality, but that's because it's not being done properly. Meaningful, prospect-centric thought leadership can be a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the sales team. It can be used to nurture existing warm leads while also maintaining and building longer-lasting relationships with brands that aren't quite ready to buy yet. IT JUST NEEDS TO BE DONE PROPERLY!
Here's our advice on how to create meaningful thought leadership:
- Get to know your buyers: This step is often written as 'identify' your buyers, but the truth is that doesn't go nearly far enough. For thought leadership to be effective, you need to know as much about them as possible. What keeps them up at night? Who do they aspire to be? What are their aspirations? What did they have for breakfast? Go out and meet them, understand their tone of voice and do your best to create content that speaks directly to them.
- Segmentation is key: Segmentation is vitally important. One of the most common issues we see is that after a brand has identified its buyers, it groups them all together and ignores any slight nuances between different groups. For instance, a CEO in London might have slightly different challenges than a CEO operating in Manchester, thus requiring slightly nuanced messaging.
- Focus on issues, not products: Focus on how you will solve your prospect's problems, not on your products and how great they are!
- Measure and adapt: As with everything in life, it's important to review the effectiveness of your thought leadership content. There are loads of metrics you could use for this, but if your goal is growth, then why not speak to sales and find out whether they are finding the content effective?
- Stay relevant: Sounds obvious, but another common mistake B2B brands make is their reluctance to talk about current events as they are happening. Keeping on top of current affairs and offering relevant insight and opinion is a great way of beating your competitors to column inches.
- Keep talking: Don't stop talking to sales! Be nice to them - they are on the front line of prospect conversations and are your best means of testing messaging. Keep the communications flowing!
Remember, B2B brands require a balance of short-term sales activation and long-term brand building to grow. A good thought leadership program can help to achieve both of these things. You can establish long-term relationships and become the go-to solution when buyers are ready to make purchasing decisions.
We recently helped our client to reach its target audience with a thought-leadership campaign. See the results of this here.
An Award Winning B2B PR Consultancy
B2B Content Campaign of the Year – Champion Communications & MobileIron: Trouble at the Top
Best Use of Data in a Content Campaign – Champion Communications & MobileIron: Trouble at the Top
Shortlisted – B2B Campaign
of the Year (Aptum)
Best B2B Trade Campaign – Aptum
Best B2B Trade Campaign – Ivanti
Best Use of Data – Ivanti
Winner – Best Use of Data (Ivanti)
Winner – Best one-off Content Campaign (Ivanti)
Winner – Best Use of Data (Greenlight Commerce)
Winner – Best Content Campaign to Assist with Corporate Positioning (Greenlight Commerce)
Shortlisted – Best one-off Content Campaign (Aptum)
is a member of the PRCA
Shortlisted – B2B Technology Campaign: It’s not always sunny in the cloud – The Aptum Cloud Impact Study
Shortlisted – B2B Technology Campaign: The Public Sector Problem
Shortlisted – Best corporate decision-maker targeted campaign: Trouble at the Top, MobileIron
Winner: gold – best pr campaign, go instore
Winner: bronze – best corporate decision maker targeted campaign, Ivanti