Thought leadership marketing is often thought of as a hybrid between content marketing and public relations, and while there is some overlap, thought leadership marketing is a discipline unto itself.
Thought leadership marketing is similar to PR in that it positions your thought leaders or brand as experts in your field. And, like content marketing, thought leadership marketing involves creating value for your target audience with engaging content.
Through thought leadership, one can become an industry influencer by engaging your audience on a regular basis and through multiple channels, to establish more meaningful relationships with prospects and customers.
What is Thought Leadership Marketing?
Thought leadership marketing positions an individual or company as an authority in the industry they serve.
People want to know and do business with people that see the big picture, are innovative, and know where the market and industry are headed. A successful thought leadership marketing campaign will answer the big questions affecting your industry, while conveying these values to your prospects, so that you are always top of mind and a trusted source.
Benefits of Thought Leadership Marketing
- Thought Leadership Proves Your Expertise
If you started a business, then you’re an expert at something, but you still need to prove it. A large collection of engaging thought leadership content will remove any shred of doubt, as you show time and time again that you understand your customers’ problems and how to fix them.
- Thought Leadership Positions Your Brand as an Innovator
Before a business makes a major investment in your product or service, they want to know you can serve them now, and well into the future. As they grow, and the market evolves, a thought leadership position assures prospects that you’ll be able to keep up with them. Or better yet, inspire faster growth.
- Thought Leadership Creates More PR Opportunities
Holding a thought leadership position makes you more desirable to journalists, bloggers, and other influencers, as your own influence and name recognition grows.
- Thought Leadership Creates Greater Collaboration Opportunities
Influence is the currency thought leaders deal in. The more influence you carry, the bigger the names will be that come out of the woodwork and approach you to collaborate on content. This can snowball into a massive following in relatively short order.
- With a Top Thought Leadership Position, Sales Come Naturally
If you’re able to sustain regular engagement of your audience with high quality content, you’ll eventually become the company everyone wants to work with. Even if they know little about what you have to offer, they do know and trust your thought leaders, and anything your thought leaders put their names on must be good. Through a sustained relationship, prospects come to adopt your values and way of doing things, and when it comes time to pick a solution, your solution “magically” checks all the boxes.
Nestled deep among the stunning array of video content options now available to the digital marketer, there lays the thought leader or industry influencer video.
Compared with other types of video content, the industry influencer video can appear to be rather simple. Sometimes referred to as a “talking head” video, they often lack the flashy production values of the typical corporate video, and focuses on the subject matter expert and the knowledge they have to share.
Your target customers – the ones making the buying decisions – are looking for companies and leadership who see the big picture, and can help drive their business forward.
The industry influencer video makes that statement, loud and clear, especially when compared to written content, and provides viewers with interesting perspectives on ideas, clearly and succinctly, that they can’t find anywhere else.
The industry influencer video is a pretty straightforward creature. It typically features a single subject matter expert sharing his or her perspective on an issue of interest to the target audience.
The origins of this may be found in interview formats developed during the early days of television, and its structure hasn’t changed much since then, nor has its power.
Thought leadership content in video format delivers the best bang for your buck
That’s not to say that flashy brand videos don’t work to build emotional attachments to brands. They can, and often do just that.
But, when it comes branding, awareness, and driving targeted traffic back to your website, few video formats beat the thought leader interview format.
If the aim of content marketing is to provide answers to the questions either implicit or explicit in online searches, thought leader videos really fit the bill. Videos that achieve this will convert better than videos that don’t.
For an example, see this video of a consultant answering a question they often receive from prospects:
Thought Leadership Video Example
This consulting firm created videos that answer common questions they receive, which helps them get found by prospects and establishes them as a trusted source.
Notice how, instead of shamelessly plugging their services, they provide an honest answer to the question, effectively building trust with the viewer.
Perhaps the very best reason to make thought leader interview videos a regular part of your video marketing strategy is that they are one of the most affordable types of video to produce.
Because they are affordable, you can often create a series of videos for the same amount of money that you could easily spend to produce one glitzy corporate video.
With quality video, lighting and sound, a good producer, working with a knowledgeable subject matter expert, should be able to record several videos worth of thought leadership videos in a single afternoon.
The ability to use these short videos in series, across a variety of different marketing campaigns, makes thought leader interviews the best bang for your video marketing buck.
But Creating Thought Leadership Content Isn’t Easy
Creating this type of top-tier content is a tall order because the subject matter experts (SMEs) at your company, who can transform their big ideas into engaging content, are likely to be few and far between.
And those that are up for the challenge are likely to be among the highest payed employees at your organization, and diverting those resources can be costly.
While challenging, brands that are able to secure a thought leadership position have a lot to gain, as it’s very difficult for the competition to replicate.
On the flip side, you may find that your industry is already crowded with thought leaders, across a variety of disciplines, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
Finding a Unique Angle
Although people almost always want to hear from the CEO or founder of a company, there are likely SMEs embedded all throughout your organization.
If you find your market already crowded with thought leaders, dig deeper into your organization to find SMEs that exemplify your company culture, and can add perspective where your competition currently offers none.
Thought leadership campaigns typically focus on building the authority of one or two key players at your organization.
However, a thought leadership campaign can also be spread across a variety of SMEs across your organization, or over a series of campaigns, to create a synergistic thought leader effect for your brand as a whole.
Why Video Content is Perfect for Thought Leadership Marketing
Every brand competes on the battlefield of ideas, but it’s not the only way to compete for the top thought leader position in your industry.
As great as the idea behind your business is, ideas are a dime a dozen. In order to control the conversation as the predominant thought leader, you first need to grab people’s attention.
For small and medium-sized businesses, the affordability of video now offers an incredible opportunity to compete with the Big Brands, without having to match their insane advertising and PR budgets.
Video is Attention-Grabbing
For decades, the most popular format for conveying thought leadership has been the white paper. Since then, blogging, social media and, to a large degree, podcasting have supplanted this role.
The next frontier is, no doubt, video and the market has confirmed, with 72% of buyers saying they’d prefer video to text, when learning about a product or service.
In other words, video gives you an instant leg up on other brands that are still focusing all their attention on written content.
Video Establishes More Meaningful Relationships with Customers
One of the major reasons white papers and other forms of written content have been replaced in large part by video content, is that the written word often lacks the emotional connection that modern buyers are seeking.
Video makes it easier for people to get to know your thought leader, in addition to the thoughts themselves.
With video, you can see a thought leader’s passion for what they do, their body language, and authenticity, and things like that are hard to replicate with text.
Video is Nearly Infinitely Repurposeable
Video is such a rich form of content that, even as you strip away layers of it, it’s still really valuable content. This makes it easy to distribute your thoughts through an even greater number of channels.
A single 2-minute video can be repurposed with relative ease, into a variety of formats:
- Cut into shorter teaser videos for use on any number of social platforms that accept video.
- Screenshots from the video can be taken and used to promote the video the ones that don’t accept video.
- Transform your video into a short podcast episode.
- Order a transcript of your video, and publish it, along with the video, on your blog for added SEO influence.
- Adapt the transcript into a series of blog posts.
- Add another video to your collection, and offer them bundled together as part of a video mini-course.
Video Doesn’t Burden Your Thought Leaders’ Already Busy Schedules
You probably have people at your company that could fill a library with what they know.
That said, getting SMEs throughout your organization to participate in the content creation process can feel like pulling teeth.
Again, it’s not that they couldn’t write a thought-provoking white-paper or blogs post, but what are the chances they actually will write it?
Probably not good.
The potential thought leaders at your company are likely to be the busiest, as well as the highest paid, so having them spend a whole day writing a blog post isn’t ideal for anyone.
With video, however, you can completely disrupt this paradigm.
With the Remote Directed Video service you can capture subject matter experts on camera in just 30 minutes, and have it ready for your website, YouTube or your other favorite channels by the next week.
You still need quality video
With any luck, I’ve convinced you that videos featuring interviews with thought leaders are the way to go.
Rather than blowing your entire video budget on one “blockbuster” video, you’re now committed to creating a series of videos, around which you can build one or more marketing campaigns.
So, your next step is to borrow your neighbor’s video camera, put someone in front of it, and yell, “Action!” Right?
Your goal is to answer the questions people are searching for online, as completely and efficiently as possible.
To do that effectively, you must very clearly communicate those answers and not distract viewers with inferior production quality. Cheap video doesn’t get the job done.
More importantly, cheap video reflects poorly on you and your company.
So, how do you strike a balance between affordable and cheap? What are the minimal production values necessary to fulfill your mission?
As I said above, you need quality video, lighting and sound, and the web is bursting at the seams with tips to help you figure out how do all of that.
However, if you’re looking to make video a regular component of your marketing mix, having marketing AND video production support is almost essential to making video work – without consuming all your time.
Thought Leadership Requires Frequent Engagement of Your Audience
Publishing a few pieces of top-quality thought leadership content on your website every few months, that are good enough to be considered thought leadership content, is an ambitious goal, but it’s still not enough.
To really secure a position at the top of the thought leader pack, you need a formalized promotion or distribution strategy that focuses in on a few key marketing channels, where you target audience spends most of their time online.
That means you need fresh content on a regular basis, but it also needs to be more engaging than the other content you’d typically find on the channels you’re targeting.
Marketing channels typically used in a thought leader campaign include:
- Publishing to your own websites
- Social media marketing
- YouTube & other video platforms
- Email marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Collaboration & influencer outreach
Not every marketing channel will make sense for every business. Find out where your target personas are spending their time online, and focus your attention there, where your content will receive the greatest engagement.
When you have your distribution channels, target audience, and content, aligned around a common goal, your thoughts and thought leaders will be better received, and your content is more likely to naturally spread to other valuable channels, outside of your primary targeting.
Leverage your strengths
As a content marketing professional, you’re more likely to add real value to the video production process by focusing on what you know best – content marketing.
- Start with keyword research, to find out what people are searching for. Recruit the best subject matter experts to share their insights.
- Work on your coaching and interview skills, to ensure that you’re gathering the very best content possible.
- Finally, focus your attention on how to get the most out of your video series, leveraging all the marketing channels that make sense for your campaign.
Video content marketing is no different from other forms of content marketing. Follow all the best practices you’ve learned over the years and apply them to your video project.
Just remember, the goal of video marketing is to convert prospects to customers.
Professionally recorded industry influencer videos, deployed as series in support of marketing campaigns, are the most effective and affordable way to achieve that goal.
Video Alone is Not Enough
Although adopting a video-first thought leadership marketing strategy provides you with a major advantage over the competition, creating video content but failing to have a formal strategy in place is unlikely to garner the results you’re after.
Securing a position as an industry influencer is as challenging as it is rewarding.
So, before you run off and pitch thought leadership marketing to your boss, make sure you define a formal strategy the shows what you plan to accomplish, and how you’re going to make it happen.
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