B2B Thought Leadership Marketing: Rethinking Content Experiences in 2021

By Sean Filidis

More than 90% of B2B marketers use thought leadership and other types of digital marketing to bolster customer acquisition and retention. But are all 90% of these marketers getting the results they’re looking for? And if not, what’s getting in the way of success?

Whether thought leadership is really worth including in your content marketing strategy depends entirely on the approach you’re taking. B2B marketers cannot afford thought leadership content that is poorly written, fails to engage target audiences, and isn’t created in an efficient manner.

In this blog post, we’ll explore:

  • The difference between thought leadership and content marketing
  • The challenges companies face when producing thought leadership content
  • How to deliver successful thought leadership as part of your content marketing strategy

What is thought leadership marketing?

According to Hinge Marketing, thought leadership marketing is the process of increasing the visibility of specialized expertise and accelerating market influence to accomplish marketing goals, such as building brand strength or generating new business.

By highlighting the expertise of thought leaders, or subject matter experts within your organization, you’ll ensure your thought leadership marketing plan will lead your target market to trust your company as an important source of information.

 

How thought leadership differs from content marketing

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Therefore, thought leadership can be thought of as a tactic within a larger content marketing strategy.

 

Content marketing challenges that impact thought leadership

1. Speed: Produce Consistent B2B Content at a Fast Pace

With 90% of B2B marketers using thought leadership and other types of content marketing, it goes without saying that the content marketing landscape is more saturated than ever before.

The struggle to produce content consistently and quickly to meet the ever-increasing demands from stakeholders is among today’s top content marketing challenges. In fact, content creation was the number one challenge that B2B marketers attributed to any lack of success from their content marketing efforts.

To quickly and consistently produce thought leadership content, your content marketing strategy must include an efficient process, an understanding of your goals, and an awareness of what your audience is looking for.

 

2. Engagement: Create Engaging, Interactive Content

In our Whitepaper with the Content Marketing Institute, we explored research from the PR firm Edelman and LinkedIn. According to the research, 53% of decision-makers spend meaningful time (1+ hours per week) experiencing thought leadership content, and 71% of these decision-makers consider thought leadership “one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of an organization’s thinking.”

However, only 17% of decision-makers said the thought leadership they experience is “very good” or “excellent.” While there are various reasons for sub-par content, one factor today’s B2B content marketers can control is how it’s delivered. To increase your engagement rate, the format and design of your thought leadership content should capture your audience’s attention and enhance the information being presented.

 

3. Incorporating thought leadership into your content marketing strategy

To incorporate thought leadership in a way that enables your B2B to keep up with today’s content generation demands, employ the following tactics:

  • Hire writers who know your business and target audience. Did you know that poor writing costs American businesses nearly $400 billion each year? Aside from a basic understanding of SEO best practices and your company’s areas of focus, make sure the writer(s) you hire have a proven track record of successful content creation.
  • Identify the experts. Your company has an entire team of subject matter experts at its disposal. Revisit your content calendar to make sure your thought leadership content is assigned a resident “expert” who can provide the industry knowledge your customers and prospects will be looking for on your website. As you develop a process for managing your subject matter experts, start by notifying them of your thought leadership initiative and communicating how important it is for them to do their part.

  • Create engaging content experiences. Our whitepaper with CMI explores a DemandGen research report which found 86% of B2B buyers prefer interactive, on-demand content over static formats. Instead of delivering thought leadership content through a run-of-the-mill PDF, consider incorporating digitization into your content creation process. The use of various dynamic, multimedia formats will attract and retain your audience.

B2B marketers might find it overwhelming to incorporate these components into their content creation process. Fortunately, content creation platforms like Foleon can solve the common problems of creating engaging content quickly and at scale to keep up with the demands facing your business.

To learn more about how interactive content platforms can help you achieve results from your content marketing plan, visit our blog post Leveraging Data to Maximize the ROI of "Extra-Web" Content.

We sought to address these challenges in our whitepaper with CMI, The Experience Matters: Today’s Innovative B2B Marketers Overcome Content Creation Barriers. Read it for more ways to create intelligent content experiences.

Foleon & CMI White Paper

The Experience Matters: Four Challenges Marketers Must Address to Overcome Content Creation Barriers

Why the time is now for B2B marketers to develop modern digital content experiences.

Get the White Paper
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Sean Filidis

Sean is a B2B content strategist specialized in streamlining customer journeys, creating sales and marketing alignment, and producing personalized content experiences that resonate with modern buyers.

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