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The world is looking for thought leaders who stand up for something.
Right now, people trust your business more than their country’s government, media and NGOs, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021.
Like consumers, B2B buyers seek meaning and purpose, even in their transactions. They seek to partner with companies that not only provide a product or service, but also publicly espouse a purpose and lofty values and beliefs. When we adhere to leaders and brands that stand for something, we no longer feel like a cog or a member of the ABC Company procurement team. We are now a partner in making the world a better place.
Nearly 48% of decision makers report consuming thought leadership content for at least 1 hour each week, found LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Edelman. Almost 90% of them say thought leadership improves their perception of an organization, and almost 50% say it regularly influences their purchasing decisions.
Simply put, standing up for something is good for business in 2021.
Examples abound in the B2C world: Nike’s racial equality stand, Dove’s stand (a real beauty campaign, Athleta’s support for female athletes of all ages and sizes.
I know what you are thinking: We’re a B2B company, not a big mainstream brand. Does the world really care that we speak out against gun control? What could we represent that is not already “taken” by a larger whale?
Fortunately, thought leadership is much more nuanced than that.
Ask yourself the following question: Is your CEO, President or Chief Marketing Officer talking about industry specific changes and current trends?
Is he on fire when he lists the ways your business is leading this change or initiating a larger movement?
Did he / she develop a unique strategy around business operations or employee engagement during the pandemic that stood out as an example of leadership in the industry?
If so, it’s time to give the microphone to this business owner.
Ask them to express their point of view in a POV blog post.
Become a thought leader: the POV blog post
A POV blog post shouldn’t be a forum for your CEO, but a chance to communicate your personal and business values to the world.
Tim Ryan, president and senior partner of PwC in the United States, is a case in point. His POV blog posts are one of the reasons PwC has become an organizational leader in exiting the pandemic. Tim speaks clearly about creating a workforce based on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as building trust between PwC employees and customers.
Since the start of the pandemic, Tim’s POV blog posts have become so popular that he created a LinkedIn newsletter called Talk tomorrow with Tim Ryan, which attracted over 23,000 subscribers in less than six months.
Another example is Jeff Muto, director of marketing and strategy at Veriforce, a supply chain risk management software company. Its customers in the oil and gas, renewables, utilities and manufacturing industries are grappling with the current shortage of skilled labor. His POV positions revolve around the challenges of attracting workers to skilled trades.
Jeff’s publications (The Changing Landscape of the Global Workforce, Get Off the Couch, America: The Skilled Trades Need You !, and Unlocking the Challenges of the Transient Skilled Workforce) appear in trade magazines, on the Veriforce website and on their social networks. channels, seeking to increase the skilled workforce, one worker at a time.
Like Tim and Jeff, your business leaders can create POV content that turns members of the C suite into thought leaders and drives real change in the industry.
Four Tips for Getting the Right POV Content
1. Identify one or two central themes
Regardless of their industry, PwC clients will be drawn to the messages of diversity, equality and inclusion (DCI) and trust. Likewise, each of Veriforce’s customers will face a skills shortage for at least the next decade. Keep your thought leader focused on their chosen topics so the messages don’t come across as preaching.
To note: Tim and Jeff have both chosen the problems their business is equipped to actively help solve, linking their messages to profitability.
2. Brainstorm the possible topics and subtopics of your theme.
If possible, plan themes throughout the year. Consider seasons, industry conferences, and more when planning.
3. Write effective POV blog posts
Use current and relevant statistics to anchor the message. Tell real stories from customers or employees. Address readers in the first person and speak to them directly.
Remember, POV always reflects your business, so it shouldn’t be a leader’s individual stream of consciousness.
4. Post your blog post
As B2B marketers, we know that where, when and how a post is distributed is often just as important as the creation of the content. If you don’t present it to the right audience, how can it have an impact?
I advocate a three-pronged distribution strategy for POV content:
- Company-owned media: Your website and your internal and external newsletters.
Tip: Getting angry with your employees about what your business stands for is arguably just as important as telling your customers.
- Industry Trade Publications: Print magazines, daily or weekly electronic newsletters, video interviews and conference publications.
Tip: Industry publications need content more than ever, going well beyond their monthly print issue. They are more than happy to post your content in at least one of their media, sometimes multiple locations.
- Social media: Your company’s social channels, social media posts from your leader and the POV author, and those from any organizations they belong to or boards they sit on.
Tip: Industry organizations also want to support your company’s core values. Using your author’s established influence to publish a POS article is another great way to get your business message forward.
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Bring your thought leadership POV to the fore. Put internal marketing and public relations efforts behind them the same way you do the rest of your content.
Because today it’s not just about selling. It’s about presenting yourself authentically in a way that guides your customers and industry into the future.
More resources on how to become a thought leader
So, do you want to be a thought leader? A framework and guide for your thought leadership strategy
How To Develop Thought Leadership | MarketingProfs Webinar
How to Become a Thought Leader (and Why You Should Do It): Mitchell Levy on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]