As buyers seek to learn more, faster, thought leadership content must evolve to keep pace.
Buyers want to feel confident and informed, but they are also increasingly comfortable operating in an omnichannel environment where self-service is king and brand content is plentiful. Thought leadership content remains a powerful tool in most marketer’s arsenal, but standing out in a crowded marketplace isn’t always easy. We’ve highlighted some best practices to ensure your content breaks through.
Primary research is key, but you have to do it right.
Content will stand out when you have fresh, targeted insights that your audience cares about. Your audience also needs to be able to see themselves in those insights. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to conduct research that enables you to ground your content in independent data. Insights that have yet to hit the market excite not only your target audience, but critical internal stakeholders like sales teams (an energized sales team is an effective sales team). So, what’s the best way to design research for compelling thought leadership?
Talk to the right people
The audience you research isn’t always the audience you want to reach with your marketing. Much of the content being produced today is aimed, appropriately, at the c-suite and other senior executives since this is the level where strategy is set, and budget approvals lie. However, senior-level execs aren’t always as familiar with the day-to-day challenges that impact businesses, nor are they typically the ones interacting with a particular process, technology, or solution which is generally the focus of marketing research. For this reason, it’s critical that content marketers understand that the audience you want to reach with your survey, interview, or online community is often different from the one you ultimately want to target with your content.
Consider your methodology
Quantitative methods like online surveys are effective because they provide statistically significant data that can be used to illustrate what’s happening broadly in a particular market. Qualitative approaches, on the other hand, are powerful because they shed light on a topic in the respondents’ own words. Quotes from these types of interviews can be used to add color to a piece of content, providing a human lens to hard data. Content that combines these types of data from multiple methodologies are more engaging to readers since they can more easily connect to the story you’re trying to tell.
Talk the Talk
Targeting is undoubtedly important when it comes to marketing. Ensuring you’re reaching the right person at the right time with the right content is the cornerstone of effective campaigns. But accurate targeting is only successful when you have messages that resonate with your audience. That is why speaking your customers’ language is so critical. This starts before you ever set pen to paper. Creating research instruments that make sense to your audience, using their terminology, and gleaning insights that speak to their core issues are foundational to the success of your marketing research endeavors. When crafting impactful marketing content, you must also remember:
Lead with empathy
You may want to sell your solution, but your target customer is simply trying to solve a business problem. Ensure your content is telling the story your audience cares about by grounding it in what matters most to them like how to overcome a common challenge, how to drive sustainable growth, or ways to get the most return on their investments. Above all, make sure you’re leading with what your customers want to know, not just what you want to say.
Customization is key
Research indicates that the majority of buyers will disregard content when it’s not relevant to them. Creating content that’s aimed at your target buyer is important but the more focused on that buyer’s specific industry, region, and goals it is, the more likely it is to truly resonate. This is why localized, customized content is key. Ensure your campaigns contain at least some customized content aligned to your target industries, geographies, and personas
Make the Most of the Content you Have
Once you have the right data to power your content and the most compelling narrative for your messaging, the last critical aspects to consider are format and activation. We’ve discussed the importance of understanding your marketing use case before to guide how you design and disseminate your content. There are some additional best practices for activating content to keep in mind:
Align your content to the buyer’s journey
Nearly ¾ of B2B decision-makers are open to making completely self-serve purchases today. This means that your content may be the only interaction buyers have with your brand, so you’ve got to make it count. Ensure you have assets that speak to your buyers’ needs throughout their journey, and that you are making those assets available at the appropriate time.
Extend the life of your content
Considering all the time, energy, and budget involved in creating a successful, research-backed content marketing campaign, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment. Depending on the topic, the data and insights that power your content are typically relevant to the market for 12 to 15 months (though of course some industries move faster than others). Extend the life of your narrative by producing multiple, “snackable” assets that can be used to draw the reader in, piquing their curiosity and encouraging them to seek out more from your brand. For example, you can take your overall narrative and:
- Release social tiles with short LinkedIn posts over a week or even months-long period.
- Leave behind a short infographic with strong call-to-action and appropriate contact information at your next major industry event.
- Host a webinar and email anyone who signed up with a link to the recorded session and any other relevant assets.
Learn more about how Big Village can help.
The Big Village Thought Leadership Content Marketing Solution is an end-to-end solution designed to tell compelling stories. We develop content by leveraging our research expertise, ability to engage hard-to-reach audiences, and design & activation expertise to bring it to life. Over the course of your campaign, our B2B marketing experts can help you optimize your investment. Whether you’re looking to launch a new product, enter an adjacent market, reposition your brand, or generate demand, we’re here to help. For more information on how Big Village can help, check out our Content Marketing Solutions or contact us!
Written by Rachel Linthwaite, Senior Director, B2B Practice at Big Village