2016 Phocuswright Conference

Eight Reasons Why Your B2B Thought Leadership Fails - By Alan Young President, Puzzle Partner Ltd

Albert Einstein
Eight Reasons Why Your B2B Thought Leadership Fails

Puzzle Partner

Traditional marketing is losing effectiveness, and more brands are relying on creating connections via thought leadership content marketing to build trust, credibility, influence and sales. It can help to establish your company as the firm with the best knowledge and insights within your marketplace - and if executed strategically, can help you gain access to hard-to-reach decision makers. Research shows 84% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next five years but to make the most out your efforts, it’s important to understand what is working and what is not. Below are eight reasons why your thought leadership content marketing might not be producing results.

You lack big picture strategy and written plan

We can define ‘content marketing’ as a strategic marketing approach centered on creating relevant, consistent and valuable content to attract and retain targeted viewers and, finally to hasten their decision making process. You can’t develop thought leadership content effectively without definite objectives and a clear strategy. The first step is to map your content objectives to business goals. Then, hone in on your target audience. In order to build trust, you need to create valuable content for their needs, pains, and interests.

Your strategy should be comprised of the topics combined with the media channels through which you will promote your content. Topics should connect to overall themes and meta-themes that tell a unique story about the brand or industry. Your strategy should not be set in stone. Your plan should be flexible. Be thorough, but not rigid. Nimble and ready to change course or direction as needed in your marketplace or niche.

Graph - Organizational Goals B2B Marketing

You lack resources

Investing your resources into content marketing will reduce your costs, while simultaneously generating up to 3x the leads you’d have gotten with native or traditional advertising (source Demand Metric). So don’t try and skimp when it comes to your thought leadership budget if you want to see results. TopRankBlog reports that the most effective B2B markets spend 39% of marketing budgets are dedicated to content marketing and 64% of B2B marketers outsource writing. So maybe it’s time to look at your marketing mix and make sure you are devoting enough time, resources and money stay competitive. Look for writers (on staff or outsourced) that specialize in your industry to avoid producing generic content that doesn’t resonate. Also, you do not want to spend time educating writers as this impacts your overall opportunity costs. Your audience will see right through it and disconnect quickly.

You lack industry expertise and data

Your thought leadership content should prove that you understand the business and industry from every angle. That means, if you are a technology company, you need to write about a lot more than technology and appeal to more just the IT audience. Rather, focus on challenges and emerging trends, and how they will affect their business and the industry as a whole. The holistic use of strong research with a tailored content creation strategy is a powerful combination. Seek out third parties, send out surveys or use your company’s own client metrics and reports to enable the development of meaningful, data-driven thought leadership. Just don’t make the mistake of seeking out complexity – find a story and search for the relevant background data to support your idea.

You lack a good content cadence

If content is king, then cadence is queen. Marketers who are most successful have a documented content marketing strategy, a content cadence calendar, and they’re clear on what content marketing success looks like. A good constant rhythm of content delivered consistently over time yields the best results. If you produce content too often, people will tune you out. If you are inconsistent or infrequent, then you lose momentum and trust. Without trust, no one will buy from you. Publishing frequency and consistency can help your audience learn when to expect new content from you. Keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates. In some cases, the right cadence might be once or twice a week; in others, it might be once a month.

You lack patience

Content marketing is not like a paid marketing, like Google Adwords that can bring instant results, it is a long-term play that takes the time to show results. Remember that when it comes to content, it is important to think marathon, not a sprint. An effective content strategy requires patience and determination. Many companies make the mistake of giving up on a content strategy too early; make a long-term commitment to your strategy. Consistency is key to building a successful business. According to McKinsey & Company, “the 3 Cs of customer satisfaction” are “consistency, consistency, and consistency.”

According to a 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends report, one of the biggest differences between brands who are top performers and those who aren’t is level of commitment: 91% of top performers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, compared to 63% of the overall sample and 35% of the bottom performers. So if you’re not going to commit to a content marketing strategy fully, don’t do it until you can. If you lack resources, seek out an agency that specializes in your industry or market to add more horsepower to your efforts.

You are selling instead of storytelling

Using your content as a promotional sales tool instead of a means to educate, entertain and inform will only backfire. You can’t force a relationship with prospective and current customers by creating content solely for the sake of your brand. Relationships are mutual. The key is to engage your target audience on an emotional level, entertaining them and enabling them to explore the latest trends while simultaneously demonstrating your brand's understanding of their pain points. Unlike other lead generation strategies, thought leadership marketing gives to prospects, instead of asking them for something. The important thing is that you focus on creating a relatable lens through which your audience will perceive your brand.

“Major change in digital marketing: Those that pitch are becoming ignored. A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”

– Mike Stelzner, CEO, Social Media Examiner (Source)

You’re not diversifying

People consume information in so many ways that if you create content for only one channel or in a single format, you’ll miss a large chunk of your potential audience. Make sure you have strategies in place for every channel through which you’ll be communicating with your audience and tie it together into a cohesive, omnichannel strategy. Consider using diverse formats that include ebooks, white papers, articles, infographics, case studies, best practice guides, checklists, and other evergreen content with a long shelf life.

You’re not using LinkedIn to distribute your content

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may dominate B2C marketing, but in the B2B space, there's no better social hub than LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the number #1 choice for professionally relevant content. This also means that if you want to reach an audience that will fully understand and respond to your content, you need to distribute high-value content using LinkedIn. Content published early in the week tends to get more shares. While Friday is not a great day to publish; it is surprising that content posted on the weekend does relatively well on LinkedIn. To help you achieve this balance, LinkedIn suggests the publishing guidelines below:

  • Status Updates: at least once a day.
  • Long For/Article Publishing: 1-2 times a week.

LinkedIn Infographic

Without a doubt, content marketing, done correctly, can produce dramatic results for your business. However, it takes time and focus on becoming successful at it. Curata reports that 74.2% of companies indicate that content marketing is increasing their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity. Regardless of your next step, don’t lose sight of how positioning your company as a thought leader in your niche is a valuable step in the sustainability – and future growth – of your business.

Alan E. Young

Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and Co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality (nbtworld.com). Previously, Alan has held executive level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou. Alan is past Chair of The Board of Directors of The OpenTravel Alliance and been very involved with other industry associations most notably AHLA, HEDNA, and HTNG. With over two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality technology world, Alan specializes in helping innovative companies achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. You can connect with Alan on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

About Puzzle Partner Ltd.

Puzzle Partner is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.

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