Having worked in B2B marketing for a number of larger online businesses, I thought I’d share some tips on how to generate new sales leads through thought leadership. One of the keys to success is by engaging your clients in an ongoing discussion and generating new sales opportunities by positioning yourself as an industry leader in your field.
Here are some examples of thought leadership tools and methods of distribution that I have seen work well in the past:
- Free Industry Research Studies/White Papers and Case Studies – Talk to your clients (listening is key) about their current challenges and understand what they need to learn from you in order to make future purchase decisions. Develop industry research studies, white papers, case studies relevant to your clients’ needs. If you want to take it another step further, involve your clients in the development of the research studies or white papers. That way, you are educating your customers on why your product is relevant and showing them how you are differentiating yourself in the industry where you function. Here is a link to tips on writing great whitepapers. If you don’t have a big budget to develop white papers, think about developing thought-provoking presentations on current trends in your industry. Try to tell a story about your industry using 3rd party data – in a way that no one else has approached the topic in the past.
- Free Industry Summits and/or Webinars – Once you have the results of an industry research study or have a thought-provoking presentation that you would like to share externally with clients and/or the media, look for creative ways to distribute that information to the masses. Hosting a breakfast seminar/summit or live webinar are great ways to share that information externally. Investigate 3rd party speakers who are subject matter experts on your industry topic to help set the tone for your event or webinar. These folks will also make your event more broad in scope and will encourage discussion around the topic vs. a direct sales pitch. The speakers will also act as an anchor to promote the event and generate a higher number of attendees. You can also record the webinar and host it on your website and/or on YouTube for future use by new visitors to your site. Here’s a great video hosted webinar about…webinars!
- Blogs – I recently read a statistic from HubSpot that indicated that small businesses that blog get 55% more web traffic that those that do not. That’s because the more frequently you blog, the more inbound links you will create for your site and you will eventually rank higher in SEO. Writing content around a topic that is of particular interest to your customers will help to position you as a subject matter expert in your field. Try to provide compelling, well researched blogs that keep your customers coming back for more information. Your blogs should not be a sales pitch. This goes back to point #1 – focus on providing useful information for your customers. I recently found a great eBook/whitepaper from Radian6 about The Art of Corporate Blogging.
- Twitter – Once you have created the content that is of interest to your customers, you need to find a way to let them know where to find it. By engaging in a dialogue with your customers on Twitter, you will build up trust and an ongoing relationship. Sharing new blog posts, information about events and other relevant resources/data related to your industry will provide your customers with ongoing value beyond your day-to-day account management services. The key is to be consistent and share information beyond what you sell – be more focused on trends in your industry as a whole. Here is a great blog about the 3 Keys to B2B Company Success With Twitter from FuelDog.
If you have a thought leadership tactic that has worked well in the past, please share your thoughts and insight.