Thought Leadership: A Guide to Building a Powerful Strategy for B2B Businesses

Marketing Advice - 06.07.23
B2B Thoughtleadership

Thought leadership is the art of becoming a recognised expert in a particular field by sharing unique and insightful ideas that add value to your target audience. In the 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study by Edelman and LinkedIn, 65% of buyers reported that a piece of thought leadership content had a significant positive impact on their perception of a company.

In the business-to-business (B2B) context, thought leadership can be a powerful tool for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, attract new customers, and drive growth. In our blog, "What Are the Major Conflicts in Creating Powerful Thought Leadership Strategies?" we explored what thought leadership is and the top conflicts that firms may encounter when building a thought leadership strategy. This, however, is a more in-depth blog digging deeper into the different types of thought leadership content that will help you build a powerful thought leadership strategy for your B2B business. We also delve into the key differences between a thought leader and an influencer because clearly, they serve two very different purposes. 

How to leverage thought leadership

So let’s get straight into it with some examples of thought leadership content that B2B businesses can use to showcase their expertise and add value to their target audience.

  • Blogging: Writing blog posts on industry-related topics is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise. By consistently creating high-quality content, you can position yourself as a thought leader and build a loyal audience.

  • Whitepapers: A whitepaper is a comprehensive report on a particular topic that provides valuable insights and recommendations. By creating whitepapers that offer unique and insightful perspectives, you can establish yourself as a credible expert in your industry.

  • Webinars: Hosting webinars on topics related to your business is a great way to share your expertise and generate leads. By presenting valuable information in an engaging format, you can attract potential customers and position your business as a valuable resource.

  • Speaking engagements: Speaking at industry conferences and events is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By sharing your insights and expertise with a live audience, you can build your reputation and generate new business opportunities.

  • Social media: Using social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to share industry insights, news, and analysis is an effective way to establish yourself as a thought leader. By consistently posting valuable content, you can attract new followers, engage with your audience, and build your reputation.

Thought leadership vs influencer

As we were saying, there is a difference so it’s important not to mistake thought leaders for influencers. Thought leaders are recognised experts in their field who are known for their original thinking and insights on industry trends, while influencers tend to focus on creating visually-oriented content that is designed to be shared widely. 

Thought leaders create original, informative, and insightful content such as whitepapers, research reports, and opinion pieces, which they share through public speaking, publishing, or other forms of media. Influencers, on the other hand, create more visually-oriented content, such as photos, videos, and social media posts. 

Thought leaders also tend to have a more specialised and niche audience, consisting of professionals in their industry, while influencers often have a much broader audience, consisting of consumers or a general audience who are interested in a particular lifestyle or topic. Both thought leaders and influencers can play valuable roles in B2B marketing, but their approaches to content creation, expertise, and audience differ significantly.

How to build thought leadership 

This leads us nicely to the main goal of our blog, to explain how to build a thought leadership strategy for your B2B business that will take your marketing to the next level. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started. 

  • Identify your audience: Begin by identifying the audience you want to target with your thought leadership content. Think about their needs, interests, and pain points. This will help you create content that resonates with them and positions you as a valuable resource.

  • Define your brand voice and messaging: Your thought leadership content should align with your brand's values and messaging. Define your brand voice and messaging so that you can create content that is consistent with your brand identity.

  • Choose your topics: Select topics that are relevant to your audience and your business. Consider what your customers are talking about and what questions they are asking. Look for gaps in the market that you can fill with your thought leadership content.

  • Develop your content: Create content that is valuable, informative, and engaging. This could include blog posts, articles, whitepapers, videos and podcasts. Ensure that your content is well-researched and includes data and insights that support your arguments.

  • Optimise your content for search: Ensure that your content is optimised for search engines so that it can be easily discovered by your target audience. Use keywords, meta descriptions, and internal links to improve your search engine ranking.

  • Promote your content: Once you have created your content, promote it through social media, email marketing, and other channels. Encourage your employees to share your content with their networks to expand your reach.

  • Measure your results: Monitor your analytics to see how your thought leadership content is performing. Look at metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, and lead generation. Use this data to refine your strategy and improve your content.

By following these steps, you can build a powerful thought leadership strategy that positions your B2B business as a trusted authority in your industry.

Thought leadership content ideas

So what content ideas will help elevate your game? Here are some handy tips to help push your content creation efforts forward.

  • How-to guides: Provide practical advice on how to solve problems or accomplish goals in your industry.

  • Trend analysis: Share your perspective on emerging trends, and provide insights on how they might impact your industry.

  • Research reports: Conduct original research on a topic of interest to your audience, and share your findings in a report.

  • Case studies: Share real-life examples of how your products or services have helped your customers achieve success.

  • Opinion pieces: Share your perspective on current events, industry trends, or controversial issues.

  • Webinars: Host live or pre-recorded webinars on topics of interest to your audience.

  • Infographics: Create visually appealing graphics that present complex data or ideas in a simple and easy-to-understand way.

  • Podcasts: Host a podcast where you discuss industry trends, share your expertise, and interview experts in your field.

  • Newsletters: Regularly share updates, insights, and industry news with your subscribers via email newsletters.

Remember that the best thought leadership content is original, informative, and provides value to your audience. By consistently creating high-quality content that demonstrates your expertise, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build trust with your audience. And the benefits will have a significant impact on your brand and business. 

Benefits of thought leadership marketing

Thought leadership helps build brand awareness by establishing your brand as a reliable source of information and a leader in your field. Additionally, thought leadership content attracts engagement, encourages social sharing and commenting, and aids in building a community around your brand, leading to increased audience involvement. 

Moreover, thought leadership marketing generates valuable leads by addressing the needs of your target audience. Lastly, thought leadership marketing provides a competitive advantage by differentiating your business and positioning it as a leader within your industry. Considering these benefits, investing in a thought leadership strategy can prove to be highly rewarding for your brand's growth and success.