Thought leadership for B2B communities


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It’s a community manager’s job to find the right expert for each article, blog, webinar and byline. And in today’s B2B space, those pieces should come together to tell a story about the product and shape the consumer’s belief about the brand. But that task can be daunting when time, fear of social media, NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and restrictions from legal and the PR department – both yours and the expert’s – stand in your way. How can you overcome these obstacles to build a thriving B2B thought leadership community?

In this presentation you’ll learn the steps SAS has put in place to find and promote industry experts – practitioners from the field, analysts, professional speakers, consultants and in-house experts – to build a thought leadership platform that spans and supports all content marketing needs.

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  • Hi I’m Waynette Tubbs. If you’d like to tweet during about this presentation, my Twitter handle is @waynettetubbs. Before we start, let’s spend just a second or two talking about what I mean when I say thought leaders because I need us all to be thinking along the same lines right from the start. For me, thought leaders are people with expertise – knowledge – to share WITH my audience. This person has to have the power to move my audience to action – they have influence.
  • When you are trying to decide where to invest your marketing dollars, it helps to know where you'll get the most bang for your buck. In 2011, Nielsen polled nearly 28,000 Internet users in 56 countries to learn the types of media they trust. Neilsen’s research reaffirms what we all were starting to know from our own Internet use and our own measurements: Earned media – word-of-mouth and online reviews are the most valuable garnering. Owned media comes in second – nearly six in ten trust editorial content and branded websites.And 50% trust the emails they sign up for. When I look at the top five trusted media sources, I see places where we can improve customer relationships and generate leads with thought leadership. For instance, the number one trusted source of media is earned media. Right there – work on your storytelling techniques! Give them something worth sharing and commenting on.
  • According to Nielsen, though, trust in paid media has fallen dramatically – between 2009 and 2011 trust in TV ads fell by 24%, trust in magazines fell by 20% and trust in newspapers fell by 25%. And yet Nielsen notes that global advertising spend increased 7%from 2010 to 2011, including a 10% increase in television advertising. I’ll tell you why – marketers are taking advantage of the way their customers and prospects are consuming media. How many of you watch TV with your iPad or iPhone in your lap? Both?! Networks and programming giants are capitalizing on that! Did you watch American Idol or NASCAR during the past few seasons? Were you on Twitter and Facebook while you watched? There are more and more shows, more and more organizations that are moving to what Alitimeter Group and others call converged media. Converged media is hugely successful because viewers get immediate access to the thought leaders – American Idol contestants, the judges, and other viewers who are watching the show and rating the contestants. And the same is true for news shows, NASCAR races, talk shows – everyone is catching on.
  • Most organizations don’t have money for TV spots, but they do have the budget to craft great content marketing plans for the converged media needs of their audiences. And now that we know what thought leadership is, and we know how it fits into the converged media landscape, let’s look at some tried and true processes for finding thought leaders and developing those relationships for the long haul. My colleagues and I looked at our processes and decided that it’s a lot like the stages of this relationship. How do you find ‘the one’, develop the relationship and ensure that it lasts?We think there are five steps – cruising the scene, the getting to know you phase, bringing her home to mama, showing her off around town and lifelong courting to keep the relationship strong.
  • Step 1 – Cruising the SceneRemember, your audience wants a heavy concentration of earned media, then owned media and THEN paid media. So, let’s go looking for thought leaders from those arenas. Stalker – Search the social sphere! Check out sites like Technorati, AllTop and Blog Catalog to find bloggers who write about your industry. There are many bloggers out there who are eager collaborate. Before asking for a relationship, get to know what this person does, writes, thinks. Have a firm understanding of how you’d like to collaborate – what will she gain, what will you gain?Hang out – This is where you will find analysts and your customers who are ready and willing to talk about your product OR the industry in general, and professional thought leaders. Make connections with people – these face-to-face meetups are invaluable because later, when you decide to ask for an interview, blog post or press release comment – he or she is already familiar and comfortable with you. You can also write blog posts about the event presentations. Under the bed – These last two are hugely important! How many of you are still with your high school sweet heart? Maybe you were introduced by a friend, neighbor, etc. Your own event connections and in-house thought leaders shouldn’t be squandered. Certainly don’t neglect No. 1 up here – juggling these is the life of a community manager – but ensure that you are maximizing these two opportunities. Example:You never know the treasures in your own backyard – let me tell you one of my own experiences. One of my areas of coverage is financial services, and in the global market, Solvency II implementation is a huge topic for insurers. I was pulling together an editorial calendar for the next six months and looking for internal thought leaders to fill some of the dates. During one of the brainstorming sessions, I learned that one of our colleagues in Marlow is a former FSA employee – the FSA is the agency in Europe that is developing the Solvency II regulation!! I had never known that this gentleman could play such a key role before. It is vital that you look for these players to help you with external contacts and with your content marketing!
  • Step 2: The getting to Know you phaseBy now, you’ve spent some time learning a little about this person you’re going to approach. Before you do, put together your elevator speech – you know, your pick up line. You would never succeed asking for a date without a well-rehearsed line – this is sort of the same thing. Don’t let it stretch more than a minute or so, but don’t throw up on her either. What I mean by that is – don’t rush up, shake hands and then throw a quick spiel at her. Make this a conversation. Remember that you’re trying to start a lasting relationship. Tell her a little about you and the name of your company – if she doesn’t already know – and then tell her about the project. ROI? Big names? Promotion? Where will it be published?If this is a professional thought leader – a speaker or writer for hire – you’ll probably have to go through an agent to sign a deal, but it’s still a good idea to develop a relationship if you have the opportunity.
  • Hopefully, by now you are ready to move to Step 3: Take her home to mama! Although this might be the point in your DATING relationship that you would introduce your new love to all of the other interesting people in your life – we all know that a new contact is usually part of the marketing plan – before Step 2. But that would have messed up my story line here. In the content marketing plan – you and your team have a template for the type of thought leader who fits your community. That way, when an opportunity presents itself – at an event perhaps – you know who is right. By family – I mean your marketing team. For me, that includes 2 field marketing specialists, 5 global product marketing managers, a customer reference representative, an industry analyst, my PR counterpart and dozens of global marketing managers. We plan how thought leader’s story will told over the next quarter, six months or year - press announcements, marketing campaigns, speaking opps, webinars, Live Chats, white papers, sales briefs, customer reference stories.
  • Step 4 is Showing her off around town. Joe Megibow from Expedia is a really good example of building out a story map using thought leadership in the converged media dynamic – without overtaxing your thought leader. In this case, we made contact with the customer soon after the sale:Create a Press Release and Customer Success StoryInvite to speak at event – while at event, the panel is Live Streamed with Live Chat. Asked Megibow to answer a couple of questions on Video while at the event. Write a blog post and embed the video.Use Customer Success Story as magazine cover story – promoted by a blog post. Follow that with future sidebars and blog quotes.Promote all of these across your relevant social properties. The video can viewed in Flash as a popup window on the KE or from our SAS Software YouTube Channel.
  • In the case of Joe Megibow, our Customer Reference Manager alerted the team that the customer was ready to talk about their success with SAS software. James Lam is another example of how we find thought leaders. James is an acclaimed thought leader in enterprise risk management. A colleague of mine introduced him to me by email after a brainstorming session about our marketing plan for a research report we would soon publish. My colleague had seen an RMA Journal article – RMA is a highly respected risk journal put out by the Risk Management Association – recently published by James. I read the paper and contacted the RMA Journal editor to ask for permission to excerpt the paper. The RMA doesn’t allow excerpts. Kathie Beans – an RMA editor – and I worked together to work out the terms of attribution – I would have agreed to anything.  I also agreed not to change the part that I excerpted without running it by Kathie. I knew up front what I wanted from the relationship: I wanted a long-term relationship with James and the RMA – so, I presented terms to Kathie that I thought would be palatable to her AND would work for James and me (the Risk Management Knowledge Exchange). Because of the agreements that were struck, we were able to put this article in our glossy quarterly sascom magazine .We were also able to put this on This has also led to a warm relationship with Kathie and James. There are now several other excerpted RMA articles on the Risk Management Knowledge Exchange BY James Lam. I won’t keep pounding you with examples. I just want you to see that we’ve started relationships at conferences, dinner parties, Tweetups and from LinkedIn conversations – you get the drift. 
  • Ah, the lifelong courting stage. Time to relax – right. Wrong!! Once you’ve caught them, your work isn’t done! Now you have to work to sustain the relationship.Keep in contact – comment on her blog posts, send her a copy of the articles when they post, make sure you stay connected on Twitter and above all let her know how the project is progressing – What are the metrics? How is it being received in your organization and across the industry?And now that you have this relationship, keep giving them opportunities to be in the limelight.
  • The fear can be described in so many ways: If I blog one time, it’ll be part of my job description. I don’t know what to say. I’m not a writer. Some of them are afraid to voice their opinion for fear of offending the customers or others in the company. It’s up to you to coach them:Don’t write for them, but help them by giving them relevant links. Help them write an outline of what they want to say. Offer to edit or proofread. Encourage them – the first post is the hardest.
  • Thought leadership for B2B communities

    1. 1. 5 steps to happily everafterCourting thought leaders for your B2B community
    2. 2. The top five2011 Nielsen survey responses show rising consumer trust in thought leadership! @waynettetubbs
    3. 3. From 2009 – 2011, trust in TV ads fell 24%, magazines lost 20%, newspapers fell 25%.Global ad spendincreased 7% from2010 - 2011,including10% increase in TVads.
    4. 4. Just as in the dating scene,there are many places to searchfor the perfect thought leader:Become a stalker.Subscribe to industry, customer,analyst and thought leader blogs.Connect with the authors on social.Hang with the ‘in’ crowd.Go to conferences, luncheons andevents hosted by your organizationor related to your industry.Look in your backyard.Take a look at the resumes in your org chart.
    5. 5. Know what is expected ofthe relationship!Can you live on love?Your customers, amateur bloggers and manyindustry analysts may only be looking forincreased exposure – a little extra blip ontheir resume.Is it the wedding chapel or nothing?Many professional thought leaders andspeakers expect paid speaking opportunitiesand payment for bylined articles or whitepapers.Before meeting, plan your pitch – yourvalue statement – including metrics,placement, promotion. @WaynetteTubbs
    6. 6. In relationships that last,it is the extra touchesthat make the difference.Call just to say hello.Give compliments andsend presents.Think of great places togo together.
    7. 7. Bumps along the way? No budget Professional opinions could be hired to say exactly what you’d like – that would be great, but expensive. Approval process Industry practitioners must seek approval from legal and PR before authoring and commenting. Fear of offending True expert opinion is often watered down for fear of offending peers and customers. The unknown Fear of social media and few metrics in B2B to prove its value.
    8. 8. The happily ever after Credibility Improved authority and credibility for the brand. Domino effect Increased efforts from product marketing and field marketing to surface thought leader content. Encouragement Improved social media engagement from internal thought leaders. Encouraged more internal thought leaders to blog.
    9. 9. Keys to success Be bold Don’t be afraid to say hello. Do your research Learn what motivates people to know if you can provide it. Coach, coach, coach Money and time are usually not the roadblock. What often gets in the way is fear. Chin up Don’t be afraid to ask. They can’t eat you. Give ‘em a nudge Never take the first no as the final answer.
    10. 10. If you have questions, @waynettetubbs
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