For technology companies, establishing and maintaining a winning thought leadership position is an important, and challenging endeavor.
Thought leadership elevates the conversation from features and benefits, to broader industry challenges and their solutions.
Don’t get me wrong.
Conversations around features and benefits are absolutely essential for demonstrating that your product or service has what your customers are looking for.
However, investing exclusively in content at this level ignores the needs of executives seeking to understand how your technology fits into the broader scheme of things, addresses industry problems, and emerges from a culture of innovation and commitment.
Video’s Unique Appeal
For decades, the most popular format for conveying thought leadership has been the white paper.
Now, because of its ability to connect with people on a more personal level, video is beginning to replace the white paper as the option of choice for establishing subject matter expertise and becoming an industry influencer.
Amidst a sea of product and explainer videos, thought leader videos are unique in their ability to help your company establish subject matter expertise, with executives seeking to connect with you and your company, on a higher level.
There’s an old saying in sales, that you get delegated to the people you sound like.
Thought leader video content provides context and depth to your conversations and is much more likely to attract the attention of C-suite executives – the ones with real buying power.
Thought leader videos allow you to sound just like the people you’re trying to reach, in a personal and content-rich format.
Three Focal Points of Thought Leader Video Content
Thought leader videos work best, in service of the following thought leadership objectives:
- Establish your command of the industry and the problems it faces. Executives need to know that their technology partners understand their industry, their challenges, and their opportunities.They want evidence of your deep understanding of the market forces acting upon their businesses, and assurance that you understand what it takes to evolve along with the markets they serve.
- Establish your solution’s ability to solve problems. In place of feature descriptions, executives want to know how your product or service was architected to meet industry needs. Why did you make the decisions you made in crafting your solutions, and how will your solutions be able to evolve over time?
- Establish your company’s ability to produce, and continuously improve upon products and services that meet customer needs. Long term technology relationships depend a level of trust and understanding established by both parties. What is it about your company’s culture, employees, partners, and other customers that suggests the existence of an ecosystem that is supportive and sustainable over time?
Customers want to know that you’re smart, that your products can meet industry challenges, and that your company will continue to stand by them, today and in the future.
Sourcing and Delivering Thought Leader Video Content
Most companies are sitting on top of vast stores of thought leader content, much of which resides in the heads of their founders, executive staff, and division managers. Any of those people should be able to answer questions like:
- What are the major trends affecting this industry today?
- What opportunities and challenges can the industry expect to encounter in the future?
- What political, legislative, or regulatory issues are important to watch?
- How are most companies in this industry likely to react to these changes?
- What need did our company seek to meet, when we entered this industry?
- Why should solutions be built the way yours is?
- Why is it so important to address this or that functional area?
- How did companies solve these problems before, and why is it so much better now?
- Why is your company’s culture the right culture for companies in this industry?
- Why is it important for companies in this space to hire and retain employees like yours?
- Why should companies in this space surround themselves with partners like yours?
Answering questions like these provides an opportunity for your company to shine. They demonstrate how smart you are, how deeply you understand the industry, and how committed you are to the industry, as it evolves.
Most importantly, they address issues that C-suite executives care deeply about.
Thought Leadership Is Not About Sales
Thought leader videos serve double duty, at the top, and at the bottom of your marketing funnel.
At the top of the funnel, they’re great for engaging prospects who are just beginning to explore solution options, or who may not even yet know they have a problem.
A video like, The Three Most Important Trends Affecting the Widget Industry, should contain enough SEO mojo to attract a wide range of prospective customers, some of whom may decide that you’re a pretty sharp company that deserves further consideration.
At the bottom of the funnel, after your customer’s IT folks have run your solution through the ringer, your thought leader videos become even more important as a way of assuring executives that yours is the company they want to do business with.
Here’s how it works.
Let’s say your product is better positioned than any other to meet three very particular challenges that widget manufacturers will be facing this year. You might create a video entitled, The Three Most Important Challenges Facing Widget Manufacturers This Year.
Can you guess what the three challenges are that the video will address?
By creating videos that offer your strengths as the answers to big industry questions, you’re speaking from an industry leadership position, while subtly encouraging viewers to see your solutions in a favorable light.
Of course, you must be able to answer these big industry questions with a straight face, so be mindful of what you ask. No one will believe that the future of their industry rests upon a minor feature in your next software release.
Don’t Mention Your Company
I know this sounds crazy, but your thought leader videos will be better received if you don’t mention the name of your company or products within the body of your videos.
Corporate branding at the front and back, with subtle brand imagery in your lower thirds, is fine. But, the thrust of these videos is about the industries you serve, and the problems you solve. They’re not about you.
Again, remember that these videos serve a very specific role at the top of your funnel, where no one cares about you yet, and at the bottom of the funnel, where everyone is well acquainted with who you are.
Reverse Engineer Your Messaging
So, what’s the point of educating the market with thought leader videos, if you’re not going to talk about how great your company and its products are?
The answer lies in precisely how you are educating the market.
When addressing thought leader issues, start with your company and products in mind, and then reverse engineer the questions so that the answers you provide lead customers toward your company and products.
Deploy Your Videos as a Series
Remember, the point here is to demonstrate to the market how smart you are. To do that, you’re going to need more than one video.
You might try starting with a series of three and then grow the series from there. Create videos as major changes occur in the market. And, don’t forget to refresh or remove videos that are past their prime.
In closing, video can be one of the best ways to establish thought leadership in your industry.
Customers like to work with smart people, who get it. And, they want to feel like they know their technology partners before they commit to long-term relationships.
With its ability to engage on a personal level, video is the perfect medium for meeting those requirements.