Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: Content Alignment, Building Influence, and Being Afraid of Ghost(writers)
In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we take a look at aligning content strategies with customer needs, how to build influence in your chosen space, and why the majority of today’s consultants are afraid of working with ghostwriters.
Align Content Strategy with Customer Needs to Boost Business
“There’s this underlying communication out there that content marketing is new, and it’s really not new for B2B marketers,” Ferguson points out. “What’s changing is the type of content we’re producing. The delivery channels are growing tremendously and creating a way for marketers to focus on niche markets and get above all that noise. But we’ve all been creating content for years. It’s just been created across the organization instead of being centralized and coordinated as it can be today.”
She’s referring to an often-overlooked strategy for content marketing which centers on purposefully interacting with customers in relevant ways at pivotal stages of the sales funnel. After recently consolidating the various content-development teams under a single umbrella, Teradata is putting this concept into action.
“When we looked at how we were managing our content creation across the organization, we found that a number of different marketing teams were creating content, and oftentimes overlapping or, worse yet, confusing the market with our messaging,” Ferguson explains. “So we eliminated these internal silos and developed a unified global content marketing team that now offers thought leadership content at the awareness level as well as solutions and product content for prospects later in the sales cycle.’”
Our take: One of the biggest — and most unnecessary — mistakes companies make is not communicating transparently, frequently, and effectively. This leads to all kinds of messes: redundant tasks, misunderstood messaging, overlapping initiatives and efforts, and perhaps worst of all, angry employees. Aligning strategies with market needs is Business 101; failing to do so is dangerous, and highly avoidable.
5 Steps Toward Building Influence as a Great Thought Leader
“The most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.
Do you want recognition? Do you want to earn credibility and respect from your peers and from the public? Do you want to offer advice and help people?
Figure out your purpose and why becoming a thought leader is important to you. Then build a strategy to support that purpose and your goals.”
Our take: While we love taking the occasional, calculated risk, figuring out what your end-goal is with any initiative is the best way to build the foundation, details, actionables, and measurements necessary to be successful. This is especially true with any kind of branding, which is essentially what thought leadership is.
Why Consultants Are Afraid of Ghostwriters
“According to a 2013 survey of 50 consulting firms conducted by the Bloom Group and the Association of Management Consulting Firms, more than half (57 percent) of the consultants in these firms are “less than enthusiastic about working with ghostwriters,” and only nine percent “love to.”
Our survey also identified leaders and laggards among business consulting firms. We defined leaders as those whose online publications and thought leadership generated the most inquiries from potential clients (13 firms, each reporting over 40 inquiries on average from each article), and laggards (20 firms reporting 20 or fewer inquiries). One piece of data from the survey is either inexplicable or perfectly understandable (depending upon where you sit): 53 percent of the leaders were either comfortable or “loved” working with ghostwriters, while only 43 percent of the laggards expressed similarly positive feelings. There may be a correlation between using ghostwriters and getting more inquiries, there may not be, (10 percent is not an enormous spread), but the data certainly justifies asking the question why a majority of consultants are averse to working with ghostwriters when it appears it’s in their interest to do so.
Not only do firms that use ghostwriting seem to have more success in generating leads, having a ghostwriters work with consultants should free them from the heavy-lifting of writing and leave them with more time to advise and bill clients; that is, do their jobs.”
Our take: Ghostwriting is a very centralized form of outsourcing, so it makes sense to use it strategically if you’re able to find someone with excellent research skills or existing knowledge of your industry. However, a lot of companies employ this tactic at random — a shaky move, particularly if you’re using ghostwriters to build thought leadership content. Think about it: what happens when the person being lauded as a thought leader can’t speak to their “own” writing?