Often as communications professionals, we focus on what the business can say and how the business can communicate with our various audiences. But there is a hidden gem that many of us overlook; thought leadership. Now, more than ever, and especially for B2B communications, thought leadership from senior managers can seriously enhance your appeal to the business community.
Businesses today should consider thought leadership as a key part of their content marketing strategy – almost as important as your social media channels and advertising strategy. Having an authoritative voice as a business can make you stand out from the noise, and when this authority comes from reputable people within your organisation, it can supercharge your credibility.
The best bit . . . this is all free for your business to do right now. It just takes some time and some thinking.
Here’s some useful benefits of how B2B focussed communications can enhance your business through an effective senior team thought leadership strategy:
1. Personality and storytelling
Firstly, personal selling is incredibly important especially when negotiating or closing a deal. Adding a personal face to your brand can make the world of difference to an audience who is on the fence about closing. Showing that the leadership of the business are visible and also know their subject matter showcases that the business is an expert in the field, and from sales to leadership, there is knowledge. Additionally, by creating a personal brand for senior staff, customers can get to know about them. Even the slightest bit of commonality may be the personal touch that gets a client over the line. Importantly, the level of ‘personal’ content is up to your senior management team, and whilst there may be some boundaries, there should also be the consideration that personal experience is something that may be of importance to certain clients.
2. So much content
If you’re a small business, or a growing business that cannot invest in a content or storytelling team, Thought Leadership can be a great way to generate organic content for your business. Ideally, if you are using this to drive content for the business, a good focus would be to get your senior leadership team to contribute knowledge relating to your product or service you offer. This content will give you things to share on social media and on your news section, but will also show to your customer base that there is some real expertise in the business relating to what you do – which in turn makes you a more credible business to trade with.
3. Free publicity
Naturally, any type of content can attract attention. However, if you work with your PR and Media Team on your Thought Leadership Strategy, you can benefit from being featured in publications and articles as a key voice on your area. If your senior management team are considered experts within a certain area, be that sector knowledge, leadership style, or even product knowledge, it can attract reporters and bloggers to your business. Additionally, if your leadership team can cement themselves as the expert on a certain topic, it will attract repeat calls from reporters. Obviously for your business, any type of publicity surrounding expertise will enhance your awareness and ultimately drive sales, which leads to my next benefit, brand credibility.
4. Brand credibility
Obviously, content is wonderful, however for true commercial success, you really need to hold a credible voice within your sector. If your senior team can provide the sector, and your customer base with useful information that can inform their own work regularly, then this will obviously build a conversation rapport with your client base, but also add credibility to your brand. Another great thing is that this content is free for your audience therefore they feel like they are getting better value for money from your business. You can even think about ringfencing certain content for customers so those who actually trade with you can benefit from extra content.
5. Customer engagement
Finally, the best bit about all this content is that you often get engagement from your customers. Any post can attract comments and deeper questioning. This is awesome for your customer as they feel they can access your senior leadership team, no matter how big their account is. It also gives your senior leadership team the opportunity to speak directly to clients. Another great thing about this, is that through engagement you find out what your customers want from the business. They may flag things in a comment thread that you might never have known about their commercial needs and it may just inform your next product update.
What does this look like in practice?
- Start things off by posting on your company news section.
- Work with your Senior Leadership Team on improving their LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram presence.
- For certain topics get your senior team to post on their own channels and get the business to share these.
- Remember to allow them to have their own tone of voice but remember to try and own a brand ‘super message’ throughout content to naturally link it back to the business
- Trust them to own their brand – but if they’re struggling, develop training on key channels and how to maximise their presence
So those are just a few benefits about Thought Leadership, and it is area I’ll definitely be coming back to in the future. To get started it might be worth having an open conversation with key senior leaders within your business to see how they can start a conversation online. If you’re a large business you may want to put together an ‘experts guide’ which can be made public making it easier for journalists to find the experts on certain topics.
Comment below and start the conversation. I’m interested to see how your business uses or plans to use Thought Leadership.
Follow me on Twitter for more updates . . . @BradTheCommsGuy