Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing

Thought Leadership in B2B Companies

Thought Leadership in a marketing strategy can be effectively leveraged across both digital and face2face channels and positions a company as a content-driven organisation that is leading the conversation on all issues concerning the management of information.

In a B2B highly dynamic environment clients require to understand the issues, have a qualified opinion and provide guidance. With this an innovative company can credibly take a position at an industry level and, in doing so, showcase skills, expertise and ability to deliver on requirements.

There is immense scope in terms of the formats and channels to leverage this content. The stakeholders look for direction, advice and expertise.

Thought Leadership in a marketing strategy can be effectively leveraged across both digital and face2face channels and positions a company as a content-driven organisation that is leading the conversation on all issues concerning the management of information.

The thought leadership positioning should be aligned with the company culture, the brand and DNA and entitles you to a seat at the C-suite table where dialogue is high level and strategic and price is rarely the differentiator.

What is a thought leader?

By definition, thought leadership is a method of marketing, which solidifies you as an expert and authority within your industry. The goal of thought leadership marketing is not to create sales heavy content, but to provide an entry point to your business by branding yourself as an expert. There are still opportunities to highlight your product or service, but first and foremost you want to be viewed as knowledgeable and willing to help.

Though Leadership is related to Content Marketing which involves “owning, as opposed to renting, media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance customer behaviour – Joe Pulizzi

A thought leader is an individual or firm that clients, prospects, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise“. – Forbes Magazine

A thought leader is a trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas” – Scott Ginsberg, Author

Benefits of thought leadership marketing

Attracting new talent

Talented people gravitate to organizations whose ideas are well-known and respected. And when potential employees perceive a company to be the best in its field, they are far more interested in working there.

Getting more press exposure

When your website’s content is truly interesting, people – journalists included – tend to perceive the author of that content as an expert. Websites replete with thought leadership get more press attention due to their perceived authority.

Receiving business development opportunities

With a strong reputation comes interest from potential partners who can help grow your company. The best biz dev is the type you don’t have to go searching for, but which comes to you based on your authoritative presence.

Being asked to do speaking engagements

Thought leadership can also take the form of public speaking at conferences and private events. Companies and individuals that are known for their ideas tend to get these coveted keynote invitations.


6 tips to use when building a thought leadership marketing strategy

  • What Questions Are Customers and Potential Customers Asking?

The first thing you should do is identify the questions your target audience, and current customers are asking—and build your thought leadership marketing strategies around the answers to those questions. Consider how people search for things online. When you have a question about something, there’s a good chance you’ll type it into Google, right?

By identifying the questions, and strings of words your customers type into search engines—you can create your content in a manner that will answer those questions. To get started, ask yourself the types of problems your products and services solve, and find the questions one would ask related to those problems. If you have a good enough answer Google might even scrape it right off your page (lucky you!):

Check out the following sites and tools for finding out what questions are being asked by your target audience: Quora, Yahoo Answers, Twitter, Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, hook Google Analytics up to your help desk search results, and the best of all… ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS!

  • Social Media is a Thought Leader’s Best Friend

This is the oldest trick in the thought leadership playbook, but it still works like a charm. As long as you are engaging and providing value on a given platform, directing people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or a niche community to one of your well written blog posts that answers a timely question is a completely acceptable way of showing people your company is an expert in the industry, and there to help.

  • Display Your Thought Leadership Beyond Your Blog

In my opinion, your company blog should always be the hub of your audience-building efforts, but it’s critical to discover other audiences by posting your thought leadership content on other platforms. We recently started posting to the beautiful publishing platform, Medium, to reach the early-adopter crowd. Guest blogging is another great way to discover a relevant audience interested in your thought-leading commentary.

  • Revise Your Questions On A Regular Basis

When your thought leadership marketing strategy is built on a foundation of customer questions, you must revisit these questions constantly. As industry trends change, you develop new products and services, and general business trends evolve—your answers to old and new questions need to evolve as well.

Google Trends is a great way to stay ahead of the curve. For example, if I focused on being a social media expert, looking at this comparison between searches for “social media marketing” and “””, I would probably want to shift my focus to content, as it’s trending up while social seems to be plateauing.

  • Using Thought Leadership Marketing To Brand Your Business – There Are No Second First Impressions

Since the goal of your thought leadership marketing strategy is to create an entry point, it is the perfect opportunity to brand your business. You can do this through your writing style, the level of creativity in your videos and images, and by demonstrating how well you understand your B2B client’s wants and needs. When creating new content, ensure that it supports how you want to be identified as a brand, especially since this may be an online reader’s first experience with you.

  • Don’t Be Afraid To Copy What’s Working

Just because your competitors are killing it with thought leadership already does not mean that YOU can’t do it better. But if their content has already touched a nerve on the inter-webs, demonstrated by those share buttons with big numbers on the top, bottom and side of their post…

The 60/40 Rule

The “60/40 Rule.” is based on some heavy-hitting research called “The Long And The Short Of It. That longitudinal study of about 10,000 brands, examined over 30 years, grouped brands into high-performing and low-performing categories. The study found that high-performing brands invest about 60 percent of their budget in thought leadership or branding, and 40 percent in more bottom-funnel messaging — what the researchers call “commercial activation,” and we call “buy now!” advertising.

How Build a Thought Leadership? 20 best practices.

Building thought leadership can be a complex process. It requires a great deal of investment in terms of time and resources. Companies aspiring to establish their thought leadership should keep in mind the following best practices.

1. Trusted

Being trusted means you become a Thought Leader because the marketplace recognises you as such — not just because you just decide to be one. Remember: Trust requires evidence. What is your core knowledge?

2. Source

No matter how you look at it, being a source means you have to be The Origin, not The Echo. The Initiator, not The Imitator. What long-term dialogue are you leading in your marketplace?

3. Moves

Moving people means your job is to inspire, influence, challenge and disturb. How are you spurring people to purposeful action?

4. People

Which means you are responsible to the individuals that comprise your constituency, regardless of who, where and how many there are. How are you building a following?

5.  Innovative

Being innovative means you deliver actionable lessons that passed through the test of your industry experience; not regurgitated wisdom or plagiarized insight. Are you speaking with meaningful concrete immediacy?

6. Ideas

Creating and verbalising meaningful ideas means your mission isn’t just idea generation — but idea proliferation and idea execution. At your company what did you create, manage or deploy today?

7. Language

The important part of being a thought leader is speaking to your audience in the language they best understand. Whether you’re creating content guides or engaging with your followers on social media, using “their” language will encourage them to identify with your leadership. This is one of the key components which will also help you stand out from others and influence your followers naturally. While creating content (blog post, infographics etc), keep the target audience in mind and use the appropriate tone, vocabulary, and articulation for your audience. Use tools such as Atomic AI that help you build content that is commensurate with your the profile of your ideal audience.

8. Consistent

Building thought leadership is a long-term process and it requires you to be consistent with your efforts. If you want to be trusted source for your audience, you need to create valuable content and promote it via outreach campaigns. According to Hubspot, companies can boost their inbound leads and inbound traffic by publishing at least 9-15 high-quality articles per month.

9. Content

Apart from offering information-rich content, you can also use content curation as a tool for establishing leadership. Curating relevant, insightful and shareable content can help you bolster your position as an expert in your industry. When you provide your followers with useful news, tips & advice, case studies, and tools to empower them, it establishes your credibility. While curating content, be sure to cite trustworthy sources.

10. Social Media

The increased use of social media offers you a unique opportunity to connect with your audience. However, with limited time, it’s important to determine the most appropriate social media platform for building your thought leadership and get on with it. More importantly, you should remain active on your social media platforms and engage with your followers actively. Any digital marketing professional who is an active Twitter user may have noticed the difference between Neil Patel and Rand Fishkin in their engagement approaches. The bottomline is that you must reach out to your audience more often than not in order to inspire trust and credibility.

11. Show

The point of thought leadership is to demonstrate your expertise, not simply talk about it. Your trophy cabinet may be impressive, but it’s important to show how you’ve earned your accolades. If you’re an expert in Facebook advertising, don’t just talk about how much you know. Write an in-depth article (or two or three) tackling specific issues in the world of Facebook ads. Not only will be people be more interested in reading an article that could help them, but you’ll earn their trust by showing the proof of the pudding.

12. Provide

From spam emails to pyramid schemes to Nigerian princes who always seem to have millions of dollars to offer you, people are more skeptical than ever of online advertising. No matter how much you try to disguise an advertisement, don’t underestimate the general public’s ability to sniff out promotion from miles away. That’s why you should focus on being a genuine resource for potential customers. Your emails, social media channels and blog posts should constitute a gold mine of useful, actionable content for anyone interested in your field. This will encourage people to revisit your site, check out your other material and sign up for your email list.

13. Depth

Dig deep. Being a thought leader doesn’t mean knowing everything about every aspect of your field. It’s about being the go-to person in your particular niche, which can be very narrow. A single detailed, statistics-backed blog post will take you much farther than 10 vague, general ones. Instead of mass-producing articles to provide a constant stream of content, shift your focus and energy to creating thorough, comprehensive content that deals with a specific problem. This will drive traffic to your site and differentiate you from the thousands of similar sites on the internet.

14. Analyse

You might think you know what people want to know about, but the truth might surprise you. Often times, we get so caught up in our fields that we lose sight of what our clients — rather than our peers — want to know. Pay attention to your customers. Take note of what they’re asking on your social channels, and respond to their questions. Interview them to see what’s working for them and what they’d like to see more of. In addition to showing that you value your customers, this can give you ideas for your next blog post, social media post or product.

15. Dialogue

Being connected in your field can open up opportunities for collaboration and help you reach a broader audience. Further, it provides additional proof that you’re current and up-to-date about the status quo in your area of expertise. Think of the people whose opinions you trust. Did they gain this trust by trumpeting their skills, continually telling you how great and talented they are? Probably not. It’s much more likely that they earned your trust by repeatedly showing their expertise, sharing their knowledge and providing valuable information to you and others. That’s the big concept behind thought leadership marketing. Thought leadership marketing is not just about selling your product or service. It’s also not about telling the world your company is the best. It’s about sharing value and being a resource.

16. Answers

Distinguish which questions your buyer personas are searching for and create content to answer them.  This takes time and research, but is very valuable to becoming a thought leader for your industry.  Many people turn to Google when they have questions, so having pieces of content that answer questions that your audience has will be beneficial to your traffic, but also to becoming a thought leader.

17. Storytelling

In order to be a thought leader, you have to be able to tell a story.  Whether you are answering questions in a blog post or on social media, your storytelling abilities have to be excellent.  If you can’t pique your audience’s interest with your content, your chances of being a thought leader begin to diminish.

18. Credible

While it is good to give your thoughts and answers on happenings in your industry, you have to make sure that you are remaining credible.  One of the quickest ways to prohibit your brand from becoming a thought leader is by producing content that isn’t credible.  Once you lose the trust of your audience, it is hard to gain that back.

19. Unique

Thought leaders are not brands that just copy information and stories and rebroadcast them.  They are brands that create their own thoughts and storylines.  They express their uniqueness and personality through their writing style.  Figure out why people are coming to you for information, and continue to capitalize on that.

20. Repeat

All of us are inundated with an endless stream of information, and the end result is that no one remembers anything. Just consider these depressing statistics on the state of brand awareness on the internet, and try to hold back your tears: only 14 percent of people can remember the last ad they saw; just 8 percent have any idea what company or product was associated with that ad; and only 3 percent think the ad actually had anything to do with them. The moral of the story is that achieving ad recall is insanely difficult.  Fortunately, there’s a solution to this problem. Just as trust is the antidote to fear, repetition is the cure to forgetfulness.

Leveraging Thought Leadership as a core pillar in your marketing strategy

In summary, leveraging “Thought Leadership” as a core pillar in your strategy puts content marketing at the heart of what you do, it aligns very naturally with the brand and means that your interaction with your communities will of necessity be elevated and strategic rather than commoditised and transactional.

High-level strategic conversations rarely get contaminated by the toxic, race-to-the-bottom tactics of price.


  • Define Target Audience — need to be as specific as possible; the more niche the better, who are they and what content (and format) is of interest to them?
  • Figure out where they are hanging out — where do they go for content? Blogs? Conferences? Seminars? Online? Publications? Trade associations? LinkedIn groups? Twitter?
  • Find out how they like to consume content — Published Periodical? Digital? Blog? Video? Audio? Twitter? LinkedIn
  • Build an out-reach plan — combination of marketing, PR, brand positioning and lead generation; complete with specific targets, goals and track-able metrics.

10 Example of how to leverage Thought Leadership

  1. Research easily available online search data and well respected secondary sources to get insight into industry issues (within and beyond information)
  2. Compile and catalogue a definitive archive of existing thought leadership materials —articles, white papers, speeches, PPT presentations, articles in which your company is quoted, media mentions etc.
  3. Brainstorm on the 3 key issues / pain points in the world of management of information / customer and build specific content marketing campaigns for each issue — link the issue with your company thought leader;
  4. Create Twitter campaigns and devise 10 x 280 character statement for each;
  5. Re-purpose existing white papers as e-books.
  6. Get your best Thought Leader to do a Ted Talk
  7. Top and Tail existing YouTube Channel with more your company Branding (preferably something whimsical and funny)
  8. Create FAQ/terminology explanation pages for our website and other collateral
  9. Compile and catalogue the definitive list of association conferences and events and select the key platforms upon which to place your thought leaders
  10. Develop a case study portfolio with a clear narrative structure that relates how your thought leadership helps customers on a day-to-day basis