Avoid These Mistakes with Your Brand’s Thought Leadership Materials
Brands, executives, and institutions use industry-leading assets like charts, case studies, and reports to add punch and back up their claims in their B2B sales pitches, marketing presentations, and thought leadership materials . When considering becoming a top and trusted source of authority, it is crucial to avoid these mistakes:
don’t do these things
Clients pay me huge amounts of money to write thought leadership content for their brands. This is often because their in-house writers are B2C focused and lack experience in B2B leadership forums. As Tracy Velt, Editorial Director of Real Trends (and one of my clients) puts it, “We use thought leadership forums, contributors, brand boards and charts to help brokerage executives see how the Margin squeeze is affecting their business.”
In general, the most common mistake is to focus on more than one audience, because speaking to two audiences actually means speaking to neither.
After targeting your target audience, the second pitfall brands fall victim to is properly differentiating between audience type and tone. To do this, you will have to distinguish it on two levels:
Macro: While it’s true that we’re all human, and a B2P (business to people) tone is the most important thing in messaging, there’s still a difference in tone between B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business). Nailing that tonal difference is key.
Micro: In B2B forums, additional segmentation is needed: differentiate between B2B employees and B2B leaders. It’s tough, and where most brands fail.
These are the common mistakes brands make with their thought leadership materials.
Your SEO does not respect the intelligence of your reader
Without stuffing them with keywords, your H1s, H2s, and H3s (titles) should match your audience’s search intent, but also respect their intelligence, especially in a leadership forum. A specific title may work in your blog, but not in thought leadership articles.
Ignoring Your Funnel Stages
Your marketing and sales funnel will help shape your thought leadership content. Even if the forum is reserved for leaders, it remains a sales pitch. Anything written by your brand, in one way or another, is sales material; and understanding which stage of the marketing funnel is seen by prospects is paramount.
By focusing on your ICP (ideal customer persona) and target audience, you better weed out NQLs (unqualified leads). Then, your leads are usually segmented into two pots: hot leads and cold leads.
For example, an article on thought leadership can talk about the industry in general, its current issues and trends, hint at your solution, and then lead to your blog, case study, or white paper for further training. Then, from your blog, it will lead further down the funnel to a collection (subscribe) page. Since it’s B2B; perhaps a heavy case study as an incentive (main magnet) in exchange for information.
Sharing micro-details instead of talking about the big picture
Your CEO is not a journalist or a blogger. Leaders don’t talk about micro details, because they’re done fighting in the trenches. Now they get paid for their decisions: running war rooms, placing resources where and when they’re needed, and navigating the ship through misty seas and dangerous terrain.
For example, when writing thought leadership about the housing industry and how you help homeowners tap into their home’s equity in creative ways, avoid small details, like the different types of debt affected by rising rates, such as home improvement loans. Instead, talk about inflation and how the surge in residential property values has given people access to new wealth.
Sharing news instead of telling a story
To write without emotions is simply to report. It’s true – writing factual sources and linking sources is commonplace. But it could be made more interesting by using unique words and analogies, and combining them in creative ways.
For example, reporting how rising rates “hurt” homeowners without fixed rate mortgages is reported by every newspaper that exists today. Saying how the owners feel about the “tightening of the vice” gives a vivid image that carries a memorable emotional charge. Storytelling is an art, and it should be perfected in leadership forums because getting the attention of leaders is excruciating.
Your legal team is slowing down your creative team
Lawyers be lawyers; their job is to protect you. They will mitigate the margin of risk in any way possible, even at the expense of creativity or softening your leader’s tone. They might say your metaphors are a bit far-fetched, promising something that can lead to lawsuits, or that your “tightening the noose” analogy is violent, even though you never incite violence. Your creative team needs to listen carefully to concerns and decide which risks are acceptable to tell the best story.