Thought Leadership is not content marketing. And it’s not easy. This title “practical 10 step guide” is not meant to imply that it is, but rather routed in the belief that anything complex can hopefully be broken down into manageable steps. It won’t happen over night and you can’t do it alone. And also just to clarify, this talk is on the how vs. the why and what – it’s more about how you plan thought leadership. I’m assuming people know the “what” novel ideas and expanding on other people’s ideas to build awareness and credibility, which creates preference, loyalty and evangelism with customers and envy with competition.
As marketers we always want to start with talking, but the first step to being a thought leader is actually listening. Our instinct is to push, talk, send, go to market, outbound - but actually we need to first step back and listen, observe, find the trends, use listening tools and find the space we can own by looking at what others are saying. We don’t want to talk over others, we want something unique and differentiated, thought-provoking. Dinner party example.
Identify and Train your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who will be part of your team. You can’t do thought Leadership alone, you need help throughout the organization, and you don’t want any ol’ person out there speaking on your behalf – that just creates off-message noise and risk. Let each leader own a portion of the plan, make sure they are media trained, good speakers or writers, have their bio and photo at hand, etc.
You know what this guys Point of View is right? What is it you want to say and be seen saying or rather what do you want to stand for or be known for? Thought leadership is different than content marketing, it can be thought-provoking, controversial, contrary, etc. Try to be unbiased, do your homework, reference and learn from other thought leaders, and do not pitch products or solutions. Have your TL messages documented so you can turn them into many variations easily; article pitch, editorial, speaking presentation then map those messages to your SMEs. >>Here’s the logic behind thought leadership and what I used with my management: POV gives you an SOV which gives you SOM(mind) which gives you SOM(market).
Design the mix – What vehicles will you use:• Whitepapers (yours and Industry/3rd party) • PR, Bylined articles • Advertising (OOH, online, print, Advertorials, Editorials) • Viewpoints, Fact Sheets, Brochures, eBooks • Videos, Infographics, Motiongraphics• ROI, TCO Calculators and Tools • Awards, Rankings, Memberships, Associations • Newsletters, eDM/DM • Surveys, Reports (Analyst, industry) • Case study’s
Next design your places: Which channels will you use. Why is there a fridge and loaf of bread here? Being good at social media (or dare I saw a guru) is like being an expert at taking bread out of the fridge. Sure it’s important but the point is to make a great sandwich. Social media is just one channel, please don’t think you can create thought leadership just using social media. You must include many things:• Industry, business, and trade publications • Speeches, keynotes, panels • Physical and Online Events, Company AND Industry events; expos/tradeshows, think tanks, roundtables, forums, summits, advisory councils, webinars • Website – Yours AND 3rd party (content syndication) – a place to build an audience or community• Social Media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Youtube, Xing, etc. • Blogs, forums – Yours and industry, and that’s not just your blog posts but also comments on other blogs, link back’s, etc.• Paid search and reference – when people go searching are you there?• And then industry associations, memberships, boards, alliances
Identify and engage your audience. Is it certain publications, certain people or organizations, is it purchasers, influencers, or decision makers? Where are the people you want to reach and build relationships with. And what’s the best way to engage them? Most B2B buying is a team sport and a more complicated sales process with a longer sales cycle so your audience might be varied. Engagement is both, saying the right thing (step 3) at the right time (6) to get action or influence.
It’s the latter in case you are wondering , Collaborate. If you can get even more integrated in your approach with PR, GR, AR to tie in releases, pitching, bylines – you can start to actually strengthen your POV and position, credibly coordinated across many platforms.
Here is where things come together. Map everything. Use a mind map, excel sheet or a napkin but map those Step 2 SMEs to Step 3 POVs to step 4 vehicles to step 5 channels. Make it an coordinated effort, not an effort of bits and bites, here and there, a flurry of frenzied activity. Our weakness as marketers can be pulling it all together into one effort that ties to a million other things, instead we try to do a million things and tie it all together.
B2B Thought Leadership is not a number on a spreadsheet now, it’s a number in the future, 8-18 months later. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t measure things. It just means you should measure what you can or have the tools to do, but at least document your coverage and traction. Remember what I said at the outset, Thought leadership builds awareness and credibility, that creates preference, loyalty and evangelism with customers and envy with competition which shows ultimately an ROI delivered to the business with referral and residual value, top of mind awareness and preference, not to mention pipe.• Measure Visits, enagement, shares, linkbacks, subscribers, comments • Brand Tracker • PR - coverage, Symphony, NTS • SOV – Radian6• Web metrics – visits, shares • Social Media metrics* Twitter metrics – reach, clicks, RTs/MTs, followers, etc. • Ad Hoc comments or custom research customer comments • # of Speaking invites and requests received
It’s not a get rich quick thing. It takes work over time, it takes quality work, not a great quantity of work. Squeezing orange juice example. Good stories gain meaning over time (vs. losing it). It has to be done over many quarters and with consistent messages, if you’re all over the place it will come out as noise and if you try to do it too often with meaningless content just to hit an editorial calendar you will still come off as noise in my opinion.
Here is a recap. After 8 is when you can start talking really, before that it’s listening and planning. When you start engaging is when you stop marketing. To make something sustainable you’ve got to sustain.
BEST PRACTICE: A practical, 10 step guide to creating the ever elusive “Thought Leadership”, Maria Burpee, Dell
A practical, 10 step guideto creating the everelusive “ThoughtLeadership”Maria BurpeeDell EMEA Healthcare Marketing & Strategy Director
12 Maria Burpee1. Listen, observe, watch trends, find the conversations2. Identify and assign SMEs, speakers & execs3. Develop and document POVs, Messages, Content4. Design a mix of content vehicles and mediums5. Decide on and establish your core platforms and channels6. Engage key targets and influencers, build relationships7. Collaborate w/ PR/AR/GR to tie in releases, pitching, bylines, briefings8. Map SMEs to POVs to vehicles to channels to audience9. Measure what you can, track everything10. Sustain; “Keep bar high, put out good content; f**k frequency”LISTEN. ENGAGE. SUSTAIN.