B2B PR Blog

Make the most our of your B2B PR activity.

Our ec-pr blog holds a wide variety of articles covering Communication, writing Press Releases and Editorial, preparing and making the most of Trade Events and Networking, and much, much more.

Do tell us if you’d like to have our insight on a particular subject, and don’t forget that you can pick up our free guides about event publicity or becoming an Influencer here. Please contact us if you’d like to talk about adding ec-pr to your Marketing team.


Editorial Case Study vs Sales Case Study: What Are the Key Differences?

Editorial Case Study vs Sales Case Study: What Are the Key Differences?

Editorial Case Study vs Sales Case Study: What Are the Key Differences?

Wordcount, formatting, and focus are three of the ten key differences between an editorial and sales case study. Both are excellent promotional vehicles and play an important role in PR and marketing communications.  You can use a case study to do different things during the sales process.  They do this by getting your company achievements out to prospective customers – directly, by what you say about yourself, or indirectly, through what is said about you. Either way, they’re a great way to show off what you do well and to competitively position your brand.

When it comes to writing a case study, there are a few approaches you can take in terms of delivery format such as video, text, and podcast.  Both types of case study cover the background, challenges, solution, and outcomes but there are some subtle differences between the two.

What are the key characteristics of an editorial case study

Editorial case studies tend to be longer – they act as a storytelling device, with a narrative structure of 800-1200 words. They are detail-oriented, focusing on the whole customer journey and perspective of the problem, range of solutions available, decision-making rationale and subsequently, the business impact of the solution they selected.

Objectively written, and more authoritative in nature, editorial case studies, can carry more information about the business and its area of expertise. This is not dissimilar to the elements you might find within a thought leadership strategy that shows a company or a spokesperson as an authority figure in the industry, giving articulate, informed and engaging opinions on crucial topics.

planning case studies

What purpose does an editorial case study serve?

Editorial case studies help to build credibility through endorsement and create brand awareness. They will have most appeal to people already in the buying cycle. They offer up an excellent opportunity for prospects to engage with an independent view of a real-life example of how your company has benefitted a customer. In fact, the best editorial case studies will feature extensive direct contributions and comments from specific customers who are happy with your services.

If a customer has increased revenue or been able to grow, the results speak for themselves, without having to actively ‘sell’ anything. It’s a great way to publicise the value of the products and services you offer and create familiarity. Editorial case studies are designed to educate and inform.

Where do editorial case studies appear?

An editorial case study falls into the category of ‘earned media’ and will appear in third-party channels such as magazines and websites. The publications that pick this up will focus on issues from a reader perspective and therefore have an interest in how customers are addressing common challenges. Editorial case studies, written by an expert writer, or journalist, are perfect collateral for these kinds of publication, as they are solution-oriented rather than sales focused.

The overall tone is considered and credible, leaving the reader confident that your business has the solution they’re looking for because of what respected third parties have chosen to say about you.

What are the key characteristics of a sales case studies

One of the most evident differences between a sales case study and an editorial case study is the length and structure. Sales case studies are considerably shorter at only 450-600 words and are usually much more succinct. For that reason, companies opt for snappier sentences, with more adjectives, and bullet points to get their message across in as few words as possible. This helps to spark interest and draw the reader in. Sales case studies are written from the perspective of the company and tend to focus on the specific features and benefits that your company, alone, can provide underpinned by great customer quotes.

What purpose does a sales case study serve?

The purpose of a sales case study is to highlight the reliability of a product or service in delivering on its customer promise (aka value proposition) and the excellent customer experience delivered.

Rather than objective, these case studies are partisan, they are passionate advocacy pieces rooted in fact but designed to do one thing – reassure and entice. They make an excellent business case that entices buyers and prospective customers into stepping into the sales funnel.

Where do sales case studies appear?

A sales case study can appear in a variety of forms in any media over which you have complete control, known as ‘owned’ media. This includes channels such as your website, LinkedIn, Twitter, sales presentations, and company brochures. A sales case study would never appear in high quality third-party media – unless as an advertorial – which immediately reduces its credibility. The overall tone of a sales case study is persuasive and provocative. It serves to convince a customer of a company’s benefits and inspire interest in products and services. It should aim to answer some of the most pressing questions first and then explain how you will help them do business better.

How to write your own case studies

If you’re looking for ways to grow your customer base and create new leads, case studies are an excellent tool. You don’t always have to pick between editorial or sales either. Both can be leveraged side by side to appeal to different customer segments, create stronger brand awareness and coax more leads into your sales funnel.

Your B2B case study checklist

Editorial case study:

800-1200 words
Narrative
More authoritative, thought leadership
Objectively written

Focus on the customer’s perspective and their view of the problem

This is Solution message oriented

Appears in 3rd party channels, it appears in earned media e.g., a magazine

Tone: considered and credible

What’s its value to you? Endorsement, positioning, expertise

Trust level: High

Sales case study:

Considerably shorter 450-600 words

Bullets permitted

More adjectives

Subjective/partisan

Written from your perspective

This is Value message oriented

Appears on your website/sales collateral, it appears in owned media e.g., your website

Tone: persuasive and passionate

What’s its value to you? Education, evidence

Trust level: Low

If you want to know more about B2B communication and the work we do here at EC-PR, get in touch.
The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Press Release 2021 pdf

The ultimate guide to writing a B2B press release

Revised for 2021

Our expert B2B PR guide with 9 steps to creating a press release that editors want to publish.

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The definitive guide to writing a positioning statement

The definitive guide to writing a positioning statement

The definitive guide to writing a positioning statement

What is a positioning statement?

A positioning statement articulates why your product or service is more desirable to your target customer than the nearest competitive alternative. It is one of the essential components of your communication strategy.  A positioning statement should define the addressable target audience, the product and its category, a single specific benefit and how it is differentiable from the nearest competitive alternative.

A positioning statement is a subset of the value proposition which speaks directly to the heart of the individual target persona.

A positioning statement is part of your communication strategy and as such is designed exclusively for an internal audience.  It should be used to inform and guide the creation of content to support your sales and marketing campaigns and tactics.

How many positioning statements should your company have?

The number of positioning statements your company has will directly reflect the number of product and services it is proactively selling. However, having a single, well-structured, and properly evidenced positioning statement for your lead product or service is preferable to multiple woolly statements!  The fact is that the greater the clarity, the stronger the pulling power. 

focus and perspective circular stairwell

What are the five elements of a positioning statement?

There should always be five key elements in your positioning statement serving to guide and focus your communication. The five elements are:
1 The target persona

This is a specific detailed description of your target prospect.  They may be a decision maker or an influencer.  We would always recommend starting with the decision maker.  For example, at EC-PR we have a Committed Col (Colleen or Colin) who is the CMO of an ambitious tech scale up.

2 Your product or service

Determine what it is you are selling to them.  For instance, we might be selling Committed Col a communication strategy programme or a Flare media training session. As a result, the messaging around each would be different because the challenge the target persona is trying to solve is different.

3 Business category

Define what type of business you are – clarity around this helps you to be efficient.  For example, EC-PR is in the B2B PR category, and we talk about B2B PR issues – this specificity ensures that B2B brands listen while consumer brands navigate away from us.

4 Key customer benefit

Each product or service you offer should be oriented towards a single compelling benefit that you deliver and work to continue improving upon. For example, everything we have ever developed as a business has been designed to deliver the CMO with certainty of PR delivery – for which we have compelling case study evidence and testimonials.

5 Nearest competitive alternative

Who do your customers consider you are competing against and how are you different from them?

A positioning statement template

You can use our positioning template below, by replacing the bold pink text in brackets, to create your own positioning statement.

You should complete one of these for each product or service you are selling to each target persona.

To [your target persona’s name], [your product/service name] is the only [category] that delivers [key customer benefit] unlike [nearest competitive alternative].

A positioning statement is clear, concise, and compelling.  It is not an advertising slogan, an email sign off, a strategy or something to be used verbatim to any external audience. 

A template keeps things simple and easy to remember and this important as Marketing expert Mark Ritson explains so eloquently.

“The foremost key to success in branding is to create a tight positioning statement. A positioning that captures the essence of the offering in a way that is accessible to all members of the organisation and appeals to consumers.”

– Mark Ritson

What role does a positioning statement play in B2B Public Relations (PR)?

An incisive positioning statement empowers an effective B2B PR campaign.  A clear understanding of who you are seeking to communicate with will ensure the media channels and format are selected appropriately.  This will make your brand more visible.

Specificity around the product and category will ensure relevant keywords can be played back into all your written material such as press releases, guest blogs and features enhancing your SEO activities.  All of which will enhance your findability.

Focusing on one single specific benefit is more attractive and compelling than a mish mash of ‘we do whatever you want’ type of communication.  A single compelling benefit provides clear direction for inspiration against which creativity can flourish.

Demonstrating how you are different from the nearest competitor helps you to catch the attention of your prospect and to be remembered.  It’s hard to remember the brand which launches just another flavour of vanilla.

How do you use a positioning statement?

You use your positioning statement to inform and guide your business communications; sales collateral, brief marketing agencies and professional partners and, to guide you when crafting speeches and thought leadership strategies.

What is the difference between a positioning statement and a value proposition?

The difference between a positioning statement and a value proposition is clearly explained by, marketing expert thought leader, J Michael Gospe:

“Value propositions are broad in nature and are a direct output of a company’s business strategy. They reflect your brand promise along with all the primary benefits offered to multiple market segments and the price the customer pays for those benefits. Value propositions refer to the “big picture.” Product marketers are usually responsible for developing the value proposition.

“Positioning statements, on the other hand, are a subset of the value proposition. Positioning statements are used in marketing communications programs and activities. The positioning statement includes the target audience (persona), product name, category, benefit, and competitive differentiation. Price is not a component of the positioning statement. Most importantly, positioning statements represent a plea for single-mindedness when it comes to executing specific marketing messages aimed at very specific audiences. While the value proposition reflects the wider range of primary benefits offered, the positioning statement points a laser beam at only the most relevant benefit and points of competitive differentiation that are meaningful to the persona. Positioning statements are usually developed by product marketers with input from corporate marketers.

“A single value proposition may be comprised by multiple positioning statements. They are both tools used by marketing teams to focus their campaigns, programs, and activities. However, neither provide the exact wording that will be used in any customer messaging.

positioning statement creates competitive advantage

What is the value of a positioning statement to business?  

The value of a positioning statement to your business cannot be over emphasised.  It provides clarity, competitive differentiation, and competitive advantage.

Executed well, the impact of a communication strategy can be considerable. It can shorten the sales cycle, attract more customers and, as part of a communication strategy, can provide you with a road map of how you can achieve your business plan.

To start forming your communication strategy, reach out to our specialists today. And if you found this article valuable download the 8-step communication strategy guide here.

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up  to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder.

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Your 8-Step Communication Strategy

8-Step Communication strategy guide

A comprehensive guide to delivering your business goals using intelligent and relevant messaging.

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EC-PR are Finalists in the 2021 UK Agency Awards!

EC-PR are Finalists in the 2021 UK Agency Awards!

EC-PR are Finalists in the 2021 UK Agency Awards!

EC-PR is delighted to announce it has been selected as Finalists in the 2021 UK Agency Awards in the category of Best PR Campaign.

Lorraine Emmett, Managing Director of EC-PR said: “To say we are delighted is an understatement. Achieving this recognition for the second year running and after such a challenging year, means the world to us. We are committed to providing our clients with certainty of PR delivery and this has been reflected in our consistent growth over the last twelve months.”

The UK Agency Awards honour everything that makes an Agency remarkable. Including creativity, design, digital and technology; marketing, advertising, public relations and media – rewarding exceptional agencies, campaigns and talent.

The judging panel draws from leading in-house professionals in marketing, communications, advertising and digital from some of the UK’s biggest and best brands. The UK Agency Awards are one of the few awards schemes that are judged solely by in-house judges; your entry will not be viewed by any other agency.

The 2021 winners will be announced on Thursday 9 September.

Congratulations to all the Finalists!

The UK Agency Awards accolades are amongst the most prestigious in the Agency calendar. Brought to you by Don’t Panic, an award specialist events agent that deliver over 35 award schemes around the world annually, these awards are judged by leading, in-house, industry experts in marketing, communications and advertising which means they are not a popularity contest they are simply won by merit, talent and expertise.”

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How we guarantee your PR results

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What makes a good communication strategy?

What makes a good communication strategy?

What makes a good communication strategy?

Consideration of what makes a good communication strategy should follow once you have acquired a clear understanding of why your business needs a communication strategy. If any doubt remains,  our clients can attest to the remarkable impact a communication strategy has had on their business.

In essence, a good comms strategy will save you time and money whilst accelerating brand awareness and driving engagement to support lead generation and new business. The keyword being ‘good’; but what makes a good comms strategy? What elements should your strategy contain to ensure it is successful?

Read on to find out.

A good communication strategy delivers clarity

When done well, a communication strategy delivers clarity on who you are as an organisation, what you’re going to say, who you’re going to say it to, when you’re going to say it, and importantly, why you’re going to say it. It creates the opportunity for organisations to marry their vision and their ‘why’ with the challenges their customers face. This then ensures that, to their customers, they are always seen as relevant, trustworthy experts who understand the market and can solve these problems for them.

good communication strategy delivers cohesive vision

It will deliver a cohesive vision

A good communication strategy will also deliver a cohesive vision to your team and business leaders by providing a clear understanding of your business’ identity, and a thorough plan as to how, when, and why you’re going to communicate. In 13 questions executives can use to assess their own communications plans, Mason Burchette from Best Buy Metals emphasises this, saying:

“Based on your current communications plan, what do people think you do and who do they think you are? If you can’t objectively answer these questions by looking at your communications plan, then you should refine the plan until you’re able to.”

It’s important to keep in mind that a communication strategy is ultimately there to help deliver your business strategy. It should be formulated based on the objectives of the business and should evolve as the needs of the business continue to develop. Highlighting this, Niki Hall, Contentsquare, said:

“To stay on course and ensure that the energy put in will add value, executives and their teams need to continually do gut-checks to confirm that communication activities support a big-picture goal, narrative or mission.”

– Niki Hall

A good communication strategy is practical

Practicality is key to a good comms strategy – you should be able to use your strategy as a guide when creating content, engaging in PR activities, and even when communicating internally.
We have our own set of questions you should ask when assessing your communication strategy:
What are you going to say to your audience?
Why should your audience listen?
What channels should you use?
What do you need to do today?
What makes your brand unique?
Who are you going to engage with?
How will you deliver your business plan?
If you can’t answer any of those questions you need to revisit some critical areas of your strategy.

“If you had told me, at the start of this journey, that a business like ours, operating in our space, could have a USP, I would never have believed you. I would not have thought it was possible. But we do and we have, we stand out for all the right reasons. That’s remarkable.”

– Dave Kelly, managing director, 2i

Defining what made them unique was one of the key reasons our client 2i found success with their communication strategy. Finding their voice and their USP enabled them to win new business, find consistency in how they communicate, and much more.

focus and vision to create the right content

The strategy should address five essential elements

To implement a good communication strategy, you need to ensure you cover some key areas. Each of these elements informs each other and are of equal importance so you must cover each part when writing your strategy: 

1 Value proposition

Your value proposition should make clear why customers should buy from you and not your competitors. What are the benefits of buying from you, why are you here and why should your customers care?

2 Sector priorities

Establishing sector priorities enables you to identify commonalities in your target audience – areas that overlap can be brought together saving you money and resources.

3 Target personas

Bring your ideal customer to life by creating target personas – a great way to visualise who you’re selling to, understand their needs and pain points, and why they would be interested in engaging with you.

4 Positioning statements

Following on from target personas you should develop positioning statements for each ideal customer. This should be a message that defines what you are offering and how you’re different, but it needs to be communicated in a way that specifically appeals to each persona.

5 Messaging development

The final critical element of your communication strategy should be messaging development. Brand messages should be crafted for each stage of the buying cycle – awareness, interest, preference, and action.

A good communication strategy is clear, actionable, and inspiring.

To start forming your communication strategy, reach out to our specialists today. And if you found this article valuable, read our complete guide to writing a communication strategy or download the 8-step communication strategy guide here.

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up  to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder.

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Communication Strategy - The questions it answers

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Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

Seven steps to creating a strategic PR plan

A strategic PR plan can help you move beyond rushed press releases and piecemeal media placements to get real results from your PR efforts.

To get started, simply follow these seven steps:

Step one: Set a benchmark for your strategic PR plan

The first step in the strategic PR planning process is to set a benchmark and review why you are where you are in terms of brand awareness and marketing performance. Start by benchmarking the strength of your brand in the marketplace with a brand audit, and ensuring you have a clear communications strategy in place.

From here, you can map out previous media coverage, take note of successful story pitches from the past, and consider the strength of existing relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other media figures.

Aside from editorial media, analyse the strength of your web content and social media to get a sense of what is working and what needs to be changed. Platforms like Google Analytics and Hootsuite can help you pinpoint content that is performing well and determine the qualities that helped it to appeal to your audience.

Step two: Define your PR goals and objectives

Setting your PR goals and objectives will be more effective with a clear idea of how previous campaigns have performed and you can decide whether you want to extend PR activity in a similar direction, or find a new approach.

Your overarching goals should be firmly aligned with a business and marketing plan — be this supporting the introduction of new products, expanding into a new area, establishing your expertise, raising brand awareness, or just boosting your bottom line.

These goals should then be distilled into specific and measurable objectives, such as increasing web traffic, getting coverage in top tier publications, or boosting your social media presence by gaining a certain number of engaged followers.

Consider tying your goals to the SMART framework – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

To set measurable goals, you will need to consider how to track the results of your campaign. This might mean looking to specific metrics like the number of articles placed in top tier media publications, orders for a new product or service, mentions on social media, website traffic, or the amount of press clippings that mention your company.

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning
Your complete Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Including example PR campaigns, content calendar templates, and audit checklists.

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Step three: Determining the target audience for ‘this’ PR campaign

Determining who the target audience is for your PR campaign is a critical decision.  With your goals and objectives in mind, consider the decision-makers that can turn the tables of fortune in your direction — the individuals, groups and communities that have the power to choose your product or service.

Examine the demographics, psychographics, and digital behaviour of your ideal buyer, and create buyer personas. The more you know about your target audience, the more you can tailor your strategy to be effective.

strategic pr plan target audience
Depending on the nature of your business, you might consider these aspects of your target audience:

1 Location

Are they city slickers or country bumpkins? Knowing where your audience resides will help you pitch stories to the right publications, and tailor online content to the right locality.

2 Media habits

Do they read specific paper publications, or prefer to digest content online? Understanding the type of media your target audience engages with will tell you which media figures are worth pitching stories to.

3 Characteristics

What interests do they share? Knowing what makes your target audience tick can help you identify what sort of messages are likely to resonate with them.

Step four: Create key compelling messaging

With a clear idea of your target audience, you can craft compelling messages to provoke thoughts, words, or deeds.

The brand voice, language, and approach of your messaging will form the backbone of your campaign and guide all the content you create — whether that’s a pitch, press release, or social media campaign.

This messaging needs to reflect what the PR campaign is trying to achieve, and it should be concise, easy to understand and memorable. The messaging should also mesh with other marketing and communications activity including advertising. 

strategic pr plan media channels

Step five: Match your message to the media channel

You need to match your message to the media channel to secure the greatest impact. Once you have your key messaging, you can determine the type of content and preferred distribution platforms.

Find the paper publications and the digital stomping grounds of your target audience, decide which ones you will use to disseminate your message, and begin to build a media list.

Your choice of channel should be based on your target audience. Bear in mind that demographics can change, with audiences across social media channels constantly in flux as the services evolve, and traditional magazines pivoting over time to attract different groups of people.

Thought leaders are respected for their depth of knowledge while Influencers are generally admired for their celebrity.

Step six: Distribute your editorial

You need to distribute your editorial to named journalists who have an interest in your subject matter.  Once you have a small number of focused channels, check the editorial calendars of your target publications — whether mainstream media or digital creators — and consider the pitching deadlines in advance to create a content schedule.

The ideal schedule will consist of content published at regular intervals throughout the year. Consistent media coverage is more beneficial than singular events, creating a steady stream of engagement that draws more leads into the top of the funnel and boosts growth.

Step seven: Measure the success of your strategic PR plan

Don’t forget to measure the success of your strategic PR plan! The final step of a PR plan is very similar to the first: reviewing your objectives and measuring the results of your efforts. Compiling analysis of media activity across different platforms into a single report will then form a clear foundation for the following phase of strategic PR.

To start forming your strategic public relations strategy, reach out to our specialists today. And if you found this article valuable, read our guide to PR Campaign Planning or download the complete guide here.  

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up  to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder. 

PR Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Your complete Guide to B2B PR Campaign Planning

Including example PR campaigns, content calendar templates, and audit checklists.

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How to develop a B2B thought leadership strategy

How to develop a B2B thought leadership strategy

How to develop a B2B thought leadership strategy

A thought leadership strategy requires three things:

  1. A subject matter expert who is articulate, informed and engaging, and unphased by public speaking.
  2. A well-researched opinion on a relevant, challenging issue and a clear understanding of potential solutions, underpinned by evidence. All of which is captured in a single, regularly updated, central document.
  3. A multimedia marketing schedule to launch, promote and give sustained visibility to the perspective, via written, verbal and video platforms, designed to get the thought leadership in front of the target community.

What is thought leadership?

In its simplest form, thought leadership is clearly articulated and informed insight from an expert which contributes to, or advances, a debate or understanding of an issue. That insight can be delivered in any format – written or verbal – through a white paper, article, speech, film, or media interview.

Thought leadership is usually issue-led and often relates to a complex subject matter.  This means it is most often associated with B2B, technical or ethical conversations.

thought leadership strategy

What role does a thought leadership strategy play in Public Relations (PR)?

Your thought leadership strategy plays a critical role in PR. At its best, should provide insight that moves a debate forward, while positioning the expert as visionary, knowledgeable and trustworthy.  Since PR is – the proactive management of information that educates, informs and persuades to advance the interests of the business –  your thought leadership should be an integral part of your PR and marketing communication strategy.

T

READ MORE: Why your business needs a communication strategy

Can anyone be a thought leader?

Yes, anyone can be a thought leader if they are equipped with the relevant knowledge, insight, and communication skillset. 

A poor communicator, however, will never become a thought leader.  A thought leader is inspirational.  If someone is not passionate about their subject or finds the limelight distressing, they are less likely to evolve into an effective thought leader – no matter how much coaching you give them. On balance, a thought leader’s subject matter passion will outweigh their fear of the limelight.

It is always worth keeping in mind that thought leadership is an accolade which is earned and awarded by peers and the addressable community – it is not a title that can be acquired lightly.

How do you identify a thought leader?

You can identify a thought leader through four crucial characteristcs:

  1. They will be subject matter experts – search for #IdeasIntoGrowth on LinkedIn posts
  2. They will be eloquent and authentic – their message is clear and easy to understand by the target community – consider Simon Sinek.
  3. They will communicate with tenacity and persistence – consider Arianna Huffington.
  4. They will share their expertise with genuine actionable insight, both freely and enthusiastically.

Examples of outstanding but very different thought leaders include Steven Bartlett the 27 year old CEO of one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, called Social Chain; Arianna Huffington an author, philanthropist, television personality and owner of the independently liberal online news magazine, ‘The Huffington Post and, of course, the teenager everyone loves to hate Greta Thunberg, the articulate environmental activist who is internationally known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation.

panel of thought leaders

What is the difference between a thought leader and a social media influencer?

The main difference between a thought leader and a social media influencer lies in their perceived ‘celebrity’. Thought leaders tend to be in the B2B domain where the sums of money involved, and duration of the buying cycle require careful governance and enduring relationships.  A thought leader may be paid a salary or a speaker fee, but they cannot be a thought leader without thoroughly knowing their subject matter and having an authentic message.  Thought leaders will be active on social media, but generally they need ‘long form’ engagement platforms because their subject matter requires it.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub: “Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views.” They are valued by brands, usually consumer, because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote.

Thought leaders are respected for their depth of knowledge while Influencers are generally admired for their celebrity.

Can one insightful article be thought leadership?

Yes, but one piece of thought leadership will not make the author a thought leader.  You need more than a message – you need a strategy, you need to be consistent, and you need to ensure your message is heard – repeatedly – or you will fail to make the impact your message deserves.

What is the difference between thought leadership and content?

The main difference between thought leadership and content is its perceived independence. Thought leadership will focus on issues – why they exist, where they come from and what their impact is on the community, business, and individuals.

Well-crafted thought leadership will explore a variety of possible solutions and provide a thorough critique of the pros and cons of the different ways of addressing a problem. There may be some preferences expressed but well-practiced thought leaders will lead the audience to water and let them work out if they are thirsty or not!

Any piece of communication which focuses on a business, it’s method or solutions is unlikely to be thought leadership.  This type of content, which talks about your brand’s features, is sales.

What is the value of thought leadership to business?

The value of thought leadership to business lies in the authority and credibilty it attaches to the speaker and the company they represent. To build trust with prospective customers, you need to show them that you are an expert in helping to address their problem.  When someone is struggling with something in business, the last thing they want to hear is a sales pitch. They want a respectful arm around their shoulders and to be told their problem is not insurmountable, there are many ways to solve their problem and you can offer them insight about all those solutions, so that they can make the best choice. This is what thought leadership provides – a platform upon which you can show off the depth and range of your understanding of their pain and how to remove it.  Thought leadership is about building trust.

What are the nine benefits of a thought leadership strategy?

There are many benefits to an effective thought leadership strategy.  Blaire Nicole writes on SocialMediaToday that there are five key benefits to thought leadership, but we think the list is more extensive, including:

1 Heightened competitive advantage

A clear position on a relevant critical issue that your community is wrestling with makes you stand out. This makes you worth engaging with to discover what you know as part of their due diligence.

2 Enhanced desire for business partnership

The fact that you have a clear view on ‘all possible’ solutions and their strengths and weaknesses, will make you a critical partner who can help them make the best decision for them.

3 Increased trust amongst your stakeholders

Sharing your expertise in an objective and informed way, underpinned by evidence, will increase your trust quotient. In B2B, your trust quotient is a critical factor in decision making and is made up of how you are perceived in terms of credibility, reliability, and assurance.

4 Greater brand awareness

The process of driving visibility for your spokesperson and the platforms they will deliver their talks and presentations from will give your brand heightened visibility.

5 Improved audience engagement

If you have selected the right issue and maintained stoic objectivity, thought leadership is the most effective way of filling your sales funnel – it is the air of independence which is so compelling.

6 Purpose-led content

‘Content’ and ‘purpose’: two buzzwords of our time which have all but lost their meaning – which is somewhat ironic. Thought leadership gives direction and meaning to your earned (editorial) and owned (web and blogs) media. You can use the structure of the thought leadership debate as inspiration to guide and inform all your marketing communications.

7 Higher perceived value

A business on a mission with clarity of purpose and the insight and evidence to back it up, has more perceived value than a business simply selling nuts and bolts.

8 Morale/loyalty

Customers, business partners, advisors and employees will experience the ‘feel good’ halo effect of having a recognised thought leader in their midst.

9 Brand differentiation

The impact of #1-8 in a crowded market – you do the maths! 🙌😁

Why does your company need a thought leadership strategy?

Your company needs a thought leadership strategy if it aspires to having a competitive advantage and is looking to release the potential of their brand. There are few companies that would admit they wouldn’t want to have access to all the benefits described above.  Anything worth having requires work, commitment, and an objective-led plan.  Having a plan is the optimum way of ensuring you achieve your goal.  If you do not have a strategy to become a thought leader, it is unlikely that you will ever achieve that status.

What are the five pillars of a thought leadership strategy?

The five pillars of a thought leadership strategy which you need to consider to ensure it is focused and  relevant are:

  1. Who are you speaking to? You should be able to visualise the typical member of the audience.
  2. What problem of theirs you can solve? This needs to be something that they are unable to solve on their own, they will be looking for possible solutions.
  3. What options are available to your target audience? Demonstrate a respectful and honest understanding of the pros and cons of those solutions.
  4. Where does your audience go for their information? You will need to tailor your thought leadership to these channels to access and engage your audience.
  5. Who has the expertise, charisma, and desire to be a thought leader in the target community?

What are thought leadership activities?

You need to create a waterfall of thought leadership activities which deliver, reinforce, and clarify your thought leader’s position and provide in-person opportunities for the target audience to engage, question and experience.  These will include:

  1. Whitepapers
  2. Roundtables
  3. Speaker platforms
  4. Webinars
  5. Editorial articles
  6. Guest blogs
  7. Media event/Q&A
  8. Podcasts

How do you measure the success of a thought leadership strategy?

1 Share of voice in target media

Calculate how often your opinion is mentioned in target media compared with your top three or four competitors.

2 Track the data

Is the white paper being downloaded? Are people signing up to listen to and engage with your thought leader? What are the trends? Use feedback to enable your thought leader to update, refine and even refocus the core message.

3 Engagement amongst target groups

Track social reach and engagement through LinkedIn.

4 No longer the warm-up act

Your thought leader is the key attraction at an event. They are invited to talk and referenced in promotional material as the reason to attend. You no longer pay for the opportunity to present to the audience – your thought leader is the reason the audience is present.

Thinking seriously about a thought leadership strategy for your B2B business?

To start forming your thought leadership strategy, reach out to our specialists today. And if you’ve found this article valuable, and you want to learn more about thought leadership, download our PR guide for business leaders “How to Become a Thought Leader”; read how EC-PR helped position Socura executives as thought leaders in the cybersecurity market; and print out this infographic: “10 Principles for a Successful B2B Thought Leadership Strategy”.

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up  to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder.

 

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