“With 89% of B2B businesses using thought leadership to increase revenues, taking an account-based approach can help your brand stand out in a saturated market, increasing its impact, effectiveness and value, and successfully guiding stakeholders across the buyer journey" says JPC’s David Gray.
Clearly demonstrating thought leadership is being recognised as crucial to attaining a variety of B2B goals, from revenue generation to attracting talent, according to a new study Earning ROI Through Thought Leadership, with sales and marketing cited as benefiting more than any other business area by 65% of the executives surveyed.
This is supported by 84% of executives admitting to being influenced by thought leadership when deciding on which vendor to choose. Meanwhile, another study, the State of Demand Gen Report, found that 84% of B2B buyers say a winning vendor’s content has had a major impact on their buying decision.
Unsurprisingly then, thought leadership is being used by most businesses to drive sales and revenues (89%), build trust with clients and prospects (85%), and deliver brand authority (83%) to help guide buyers along the sales funnel and beyond.
However, as we all know, you can have too much of a good thing, and the high proportion of companies now using this technique means 72% of B2B executives feel the market is oversaturated with “uninteresting thought leadership”, while 61% worry this is causing their content to go unnoticed and therefore their efforts are being wasted.
This has created yet another challenge for vendors to overcome: how do you ensure thought leadership content stands out and engages the most influential audience, and so optimise its value. Creating better quality content than your rivals is key here, according to 83% of respondents who “frequently or always differentiate their content”, with 47% of B2B content marketers saying they will hire or contract specialists to achieve this, according to the B2B Content Marketing report.
But no matter how good, relevant, informative and inspiring your content is, it will be useless if it doesn’t reach and engage with the right people. This is where an account-based approach can help, which can not only increase the impact of your thought leadership, but also its effectiveness to drive growth.
Once you have identified your hottest prospects or customers ripe for upselling or cross-selling, detailed research must be carried out to identify and profile the most influential stakeholders, together with their business challenges and needs. It’s also important to identify where your businesses align to emphasise your partner credentials, as well as, each stakeholder’s sentiment towards your business, so that you can use thought leadership to shift perceptions in the right direction.
Then you can start planning your engagement strategy, with thought leadership centre stage to show you understand your prospect’s business, their market and the challenges they are facing, and most importantly how they can overcome them. A variety of carefully curated content can be used to guide stakeholders along the buying journey from initial engagement through nurture to conversion.
The ROI of Thought Leadership report reveals that the most widely used content assets that B2B marketers created in the past year were short articles and posts (of fewer than 1,500 words), as cited by 89% of respondents. Three-quarters created videos, while two-thirds used case studies, which tend to be most effective at the bottom of the funnel, according to the recent State of Demand Gen report.
Other assets that a majority of B2B content marketers have used include virtual events/webinars/online courses (62%), infographics/charts/data viz/3D models (61%), long articles/posts (61%) and e-books/white papers (59%).
FACE TO FACE
About half (49%) used in-person events, up from just 19% the previous year through which thought leadership can be channelled through highly effectively by developing immersive experiences to showcase your products and services. Along with this increase in usage, 48% of those using in-person events said they produced the best results than other content types. Close behind were virtual events/webinars/online courses (47%) and research reports (46%). Research and data are indeed shown to be key for shareability and memorability.
The State of Demand Gen report also matched content types to their effectiveness across the buying journey, according to the experience of the B2B marketers surveyed. Blogs, infographics and videos were revealed to be most effective at the top of the sales funnel, research and live and online events mid-funnel, and case studies and white papers/e-books at the bottom of the funnel.
Tailoring your thought leadership around an account-based campaign that spans the customer journey can maximise content value and effectiveness in engaging, educating and inspiring the people who matter most – your key prospects – helping you engage, win and grow more business.
At JPC, we’ll help you raise your gaze above the sales and marketing parapet, explode the silos and head towards an altogether more holistic company-wide account-based approach. Get in touch if you would like to know more.