You nailed the content. Now comes the hard part – getting it seen, read, or heard.
With enormous competition for executive mindshare, it’s extremely difficult for firms to attract buyers to their expertise. This article combines findings from our 2022 thought leadership research with our own experience to help you break through the clutter, connect with your prospective clients, and create growth for your firm.
SO HOW NOISY IS IT?
It’s not noisy — it’s deafening. The volume of content in the marketplace is staggering. Just to put a few numbers around it, in 2020 alone there were:
- 200 billion Tweets
- 45 billion minutes of webinars hosted on Zoom
- 1.4 million articles a month published on Medium
- 500 hours of video posted per minute on YouTube
Over 1 billion hours of new content flooded the digital landscape in just one year — that’s more than 1.4 million lifetimes of content!
Clients are feeling the pain. Many receive an overwhelming amount of thought leadership content on a weekly basis. Many tell us they only have time to delve into about 10% of it — maybe less. Never before have people been bombarded, 24/7, by so much noise. Like it or not, you and your firm are competing for your audience’s attention. Your opponent: the entire Internet.
WHAT THE DATA SAY: HOW THE BEST B2B COMPANIES ARE CUTTING THROUGH THE NOISE
So who’s getting heard, what’s working, and where are the opportunities to publish and promote high quality insights right now? Based on our most recent thought leadership research, here’s a look at some of the key trends and tactics being used by leading professional services firms and B2B marketers.
Media Formats: What Clients Say
Pulling from our research with corporate decision-makers, one thing comes through loud and clear: They want “lean back” content such as webinars, podcasts, and videos — formats that don’t make them invest too much time to get the insights they need.
Leading firms are capitalizing on this preference to guide their strategy, content, and marketing efforts. They’re more focused on digital and multimedia content than their peers. They look for creative ways to repurpose content in the most digestible formats possible, such as turning a white paper into a video.
While most executives in our survey said they prefer “lean-back” digital content, that doesn’t mean print and other forms of written content are dead. About a third reported actively consuming content via shorter print articles and blogs — formats that tend to offer scannable copy and quick hits for time-starved decision-makers.
4 STEPS TO CUT THROUGH AND CONNECT
You know that you want to establish your firm and its people as thought leaders. You’re dedicated to producing purposeful, engaging content around issues you’d like to own. Now you have to develop a solid plan to distribute and promote it. What kind of marketing and selling strategies do you need to help your content get noticed, create brand preference, and drive growth for your firm? Consider these 4 recommendations:
#1 — Trace Revenue Goals Back To Marketing Activities
Thought leadership can be one of a firm’s most effective and valuable tools for attracting and retaining clients. That said, It’s often hard to know with certainty how much your thought leadership is influencing buying behaviors. Focus on what you can control. Start with long-term revenue targets and cascade back to more tangible marketing goals and specific marketing activities.
Let’s say you want to generate $10M in new revenue from your firm’s marketing efforts. Work backwards from that goal. How many new clients or engagements do you need to hit that revenue target? How many qualified leads would you need to generate that much closed business? How many incremental website visitors or media impressions would you need to generate that many new conversations? These types of goals are concrete and controllable. You can use them to build a publishing plan and a promotional model.
#2 — BE AS FOCUSED TACTICALLY AS YOU ARE STRATEGICALLY
Success with thought leadership requires a tight focus on the issues you wish to own. Bring that same tight focus to how you publish and promote. You want to publish and promote in places that are going to deliver Reach, Authority, or both. The particular tactics you choose are a function of the goals you want to achieve.
As the chart shows, using a model that categorizes content by Reach and Authority helps you analyze where your content has impact. You can then adjust your tactics for maximum effect. For example, if your organization’s long-term goal is to be the recognized expert at artificial intelligence in the retail environment, set a revenue target for that, and lean into earned media placements to drive both reach and authority over time.
Don’t do just one thing, and don’t try to do everything. If your firm is great at podcasting, dive into that. Add three or four other tactics that work for your culture, then try to be exceptional at those things.
#3 — BRING DISCIPLINE
High-quality thought leadership is often built on a unique, contrarian, and provocative point of view. But marketing and promoting your content is the opposite. It requires discipline, focus, and routine. Routine tells your audience what you’re about and builds an expectation for what you’ll deliver and when.
Scott Galloway of Prof G Media is a master at this. Scott has a super compelling, incredibly entertaining POV on tech in the broader business world. He also has unbelievable publishing discipline. His team delivers a Market Monday podcast every Monday, an “Office Hours” Q&A podcast every Wednesday, and a fresh POV article on a timely business issue with his “No Mercy. No Malice.” newsletter every Friday. It’s discipline and routine. Every. Single. Week. His followers come to expect it and look forward to it.
Great editorial products are predictable. A consistent routine helps you win the battle for your audience’s attention, consideration, and above all, loyalty.
#4 — ENGAGE THE SALES ORGANIZATION
Thought leadership is a team sport. Research shows that the highest-impact way to deliver insights is one on one with high-value clients and potential clients. It’s much more impactful when a person from your organization meets one on one with a client to share the findings of your latest research or shares one of your latest insights in response to a real-word problem mentioned in a client meeting. It’s hands down the most effective way to help your clients make sense of the noise in their minds.
STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
Because they’re plugged in all the time, today’s clients are bombarded by digital clutter — a never-ending deluge of content across dozens of devices and platforms. Unfortunately, we process much of this as useless noise. All this is making it difficult for your clients to find value in what they consume, and harder for you to get noticed.
Rising above the noise will only become more critical to your firm’s success. These strategies and tactics are far from an exhaustive list for promoting your POV. If you’d like to learn more about how you can keep your content from falling through the cracks, we’re here to help you build a solid plan.