Storytelling is not just for kids and campfires. ‘Narrative’ is an integral part of how we consume and understand information and is no different for B2B organizations looking to get heard.

‘Proper’ thought leadership can paint a picture. It provides industry context for what a company offers, allows for a deeper dive into technology developments and what they actually mean for users – beyond the nuts and bolts – and crucially, it can build trust and start a conversation with prospects.

Even though marketers have twigged the value of thought leadership, many are pushing out content that is undervaluing its power as a B2B communications tool. Good quality content should be drafted to address the specific questions and pain points of different audiences in a way that is easily consumed – and in a way that decision makers want.

The numbers stack up
A 2019 study on the impact of thought leadership has highlighted some clear and compelling reasons why those who aren’t doing it should reconsider – and not only that 55% of decision-makers reported using thought leadership as a way to vet organizations they are considering working with.

  • It produces leads… 47% of C-suite executives shared their contact information after reading thought leadership
  • It reveals opportunities… 45% of respondents invited organizations to bid on a project due to their thought leadership
  • And it wins business… with thought leadership directly leading decision makers to award business to an organization – according to 58% of them.

Defining ‘proper’ – tell a story through content superiority
So it works. But many of the businesses that have caught on are pushing out content across multiple platforms and in various formats without asking: are they cutting through the noise?

The same study shows that only 18% of thought leadership pieces were considered to be excellent or very good – almost twice as many (30%) were thought to be mediocre or poor. So, there is definitely room for improvement and the opportunity to be heard.

The way to tackle this is through quality and value to the reader. Your customers and prospects should underpin every single piece of thought leadership you publish, and of course, then pitch to the media and share on social. There might be more content than ever out there, but quality content that adds value to the reader? Not so much.

Relevance is tightly linked to quality and is equally important for all content – whether earned, owned, shared or paid. Let’s take earned media as an example. Just go on Twitter and search for #PRFail and you will see that irrelevant pitches are a constant bugbear for journalists. This is a prime example of not knowing your audience.

It seems many of today’s PR pros and marketers are still falling at this early hurdle. According to the Cision 2019 State of the Media Report, three quarters of journalists say only 25% of the story pitches they receive are relevant. Not only does this annoy the journalists who are the gatekeepers to media coverage, it’s also a lot of wasted effort.

The difficulty in achieving third-party endorsement through the media is sometimes used as an excuse by marketers to avoid doing it or lead them to the assumption that it would be too costly to achieve – but this isn’t true. When stories are relevant, provide value and are pitched to the right journalists, valuable earned media is readily achievable for businesses of any size. At IBA we always achieve at least three placements for each piece of thought leadership we pitch – just recently one blog we drafted for an A&D client was adapted and placed 11 times in top tier media outlets across six geographies.

Will video kill the copywriter?
When it comes to content creation there are lots of formats which work at different stages of the sales and marketing funnel. There is a lot of attention at the moment on trying to use virtual or augmented reality effectively as part of marketing campaigns, and even more on using video content.

Video is an engaging format and plays very well on social media – does this mean B2B blogging is dead? Has it killed editorialized thought leadership? The answer is a resounding no. Well-drafted editorial copy still has an almost unequalled power to inform, influence and persuade decision-makers – that’s why it’s still the number one content choice for marketers.

Ready to raise your content game?
If you are looking for some guidance on content creation, want to hire a copywriter – or a team of copywriters – who know good content and how to use it, drop me a message.

Or if you are looking for some more info on how to quickly set up a content marketing program for your business, check out our eBook today.

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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