It’s scary how fast terms and tactics can simply become “buzzwords” in our industry — losing the true meaning or value they once had.
And, while some of my colleagues may cringe as I say this, it feels as though “thought leadership” may be on the dangerous precipice of becoming one of these inconsequential terms, disconnected from the strategy and reasoning that helped this phrase rise to power in the last few years.
But here at VantagePoint, we fully believe in the true (and original) meaning of thought leadership and what it can do for B2B companies. We invest our own resources — time, people and money — in working to generate content that inspires, educates and intrigues our customers and audiences. Because that’s what good thought leadership should do: Separate you from the crowd, provide an authoritative opinion on a topic that matters to your audiences and explore new ideas and genuinely sparking people’s interest in your ideas — and therefore your company and products — to learn more about you.
In this B2B world of content clutter, true thought leadership can be much more easily said than done. But there are some rock-star brands who continue to help exemplify outstanding thought-leadership programs — and keep this term from becoming a buzzword.
Sometimes it’s hard to cut through the clutter of your full corporate site in order to drive traffic directly to the content you’ve been working hard to share. GE manages to showcase bite-sized content that forces audiences to think, explore and re-evaluate through their Tumblr-based microsite. As you can imagine, GE covers a whole range of topics — from space to healthcare to energy — with snackable content that keeps them top of mind as innovators and suppliers in these spaces with small pieces of engaging content.
First Round Review
Another tactic is taking yourself out of the driver’s seat and opening the floor for other experts in your field to weigh in. First Round Review has worked to build a content platform that engages and collaborates with other thought leaders with insightful and innovative ideas that also shed light on the current state and evolution of different industries. Unlike GE, this long-form content provides heavy articles that have turned this content hub into its own standalone publication.
Yet another example of diversified but impactful thought leadership strategies can be seen through L2’s YouTube channel. This cheeky display of content ranges in topics from the “Algebra of Happiness” to “A Primer on Cryptocurrency,” and takes a more lighthearted approach to some of today’s emerging topics (or age-old digital questions). While this strategy might not work for everyone, it’s a good example of thinking through other ways of presenting content that feels disruptive and interesting but still informative.
At the end of the day, maintaining the integrity of the term “thought leadership” and the benefits it brings to the B2B industry relies on companies ensuring that content is strategically aligned with and linking back to their business goals. Whether short- or long-form, original or sponsored, good thought leadership sparks genuine interest and brings people to the table to learn more about topics that inspire and then entice them to learn more about you as a company.
To see more examples of B2B companies elevating the thought leadership game, read McGuire Editorial’s post. Or head over to our blog, “How Content Marketing is Changing the B2B Marketing Landscape” to learn more about what content marketing is, how the current B2B landscape reflects this discipline and how marketers can use content marketing effectively to impact business.