Tired of pushing content all the time with no payoff?
It seems like you’re always vying for sales and nothing else. Then, you start to wonder if you’re chasing away the people you wish would come to you.
The thing is, you understand why.
You want to build trust with your B2B clients, in particular, but your current method isn’t working. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. You aren’t connecting with them at all, much less in a meaningful and beneficial way.
That lack of connection leaves you refining pitches. If you change out these words in an old blog post or that sentence in your email pitches, things might get better. Or not.
You end up wasting time on pitches that your audience dismisses before reading.
This means you’re losing out on conversions instead of fostering a worthwhile B2B relationship. So how can you start building recurring leads while forming positive relationships?
That’s where thought leadership comes in. In this article, we’ll go over 3 tips for creating inspiring thought leadership content. You’ll increase trust and see a boost in conversions.
Here’s how to be a thought leader who makes your dream clients flock to you.
Either you’ve never heard of thought leadership, or you’re sick to death of hearing about it.
If you’re in the first category, that’s awesome.
You can read this article with fresh eyes. Even through those fresh eyes, thought leadership isn’t complicated.
If you’re in the second category, take a deep breath.
Thought leadership has become a semi-meaningless buzzword. This doesn’t mean thought leadership isn’t valuable for your business. To take advantage of it, you need to learn to be an actual thought leader.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with all the wannabes. They’re putting little to no effort into their content and expecting a maximum return. They cry that thought leadership is useless, but they’ve never attempted to be an actual leader.
So, how do you become a thought leader? How do you define thought leadership, anyways?
Thought leadership is sharing a unique perspective on problems within your niche.
A thought leader uses content to benefit their audience and niche as a whole. They take advantage of their experiences and use them to add knowledge to their niche.
Thought leadership content shows that you walk the walk because of direct experience. As a result, thought leadership establishes you as an expert and builds trust.
This kind of content gives you an edge over other kinds of content. It does so by avoiding the three big traps that keep content from being compelling.
The three tips we’ll go over will address how thought leadership content can avoid these traps.
The first trap is being too generic. You don’t want your thought leadership content to sound like everyone else.
Say you encountered an article with a title that read: “15 Ways to Lose Weight.” There are a million articles with titles that are variations on that.
It doesn’t stand out. It’s plain old boring.
The content of the article might be a classic listicle.
“1. Exercise - Exercise burns calories, so it can help you lose weight.
Rinse and repeat. Again, it’s boring. Worse, it’s unhelpful.
This is old information, packaged in a recycled box.
The problem is that it’s easy to fall into this trap. You might find yourself using a specific tone when writing on a particular subject.
You use different tones when speaking to different people.
You wouldn’t talk the same way to a client as you would your grandma, for instance. Switching your tone carries over into writing. When you’re writing, you could find yourself trying to sound like a business person doing business.
Why is this a trap?
First of all, writing in the same tone as everyone else makes you sound… well, the same as everyone else.
Your writing doesn’t stand apart. There’s nothing memorable or exciting, so your audience can’t tell you apart from competitors.
Second, your audience will find it hard to trust a faceless business entity.
Unless you’re big enough that your brand alone is a reputation, your audience wants to know who you are.
Avoid this trap by finding your voice and sticking with it, no matter your industry or topic.
Finding your voice will help you create inspired B2B content. Let’s go back to the weight loss article.
This time, say you found an article titled, “How I Lost Weight When I Realized Weight Loss Wasn’t My Problem.” That’s a different tone.
This headline doesn’t present the same facts in the same tone as everyone else. It shifts the narrative and allows the author to bring their unique perspective to the title. A sample of this article might look like:
“After endless searching and dieting, I got frustrated.
I was so tired of failing everything, and I couldn’t stand my body a second longer. I looked in the mirror one day after breaking my umpteenth diet and realized something.
Weight loss wasn’t my problem. Confidence was.”
This article has a conversational tone. It reads like someone talking to you in confidence and sharing a secret about themselves. Even if this article talks about exercise and eating habits, it does so in a unique and personal way.
Your tone should be unique to you. Don’t worry about how other people in your niche sound.
How do you want to sound? What kind of image do you want to project?
If you’re in the habit of bland writing, you may need to play around with tone a little. Try going to extremes with different aspects of your personality in your writing. Then make adjustments as you go until you’ve found your voice.
Now that you’ve found your voice, keep it. Keeping your voice will build trust with your readers and make your content cohesive.
Not to stroke my own ego, but let’s use Doan Consulting Group as an example. I’ve built everything around this “banana” theme, and it does three things.
First, it helps all my content feel like it belongs together.
Second, it helps me to stand out. I’m the world’s #1 (and maybe only, but that’s beside the point) banana-response copywriter.
Third, and most important, it helps me to build trust with my audience.
See, having a specific voice makes your audience feel like they know you. You can explain why your voice is the way that it is.
You might be very informal because you see yourself as a “person” instead of a “business person.” You might be numbers-heavy because you don’t like it when people make claims without backing it up. You could make a lot of jokes because you got into marketing after failing as a stand-up comedian.
There’s a world of possibilities. Use your experiences to find your voice.
You’ll find it helps your writing feel more comfortable, and your conversions get a boost. Your audience can see when you’re genuine, and they’ll trust you for it.
Learn how to clarify your unique selling proposition in your copy here.
Remember when I said you don’t want to sound like everyone else? You don’t want to say what everyone else says, either.
Have you ever looked something up and gotten 20 results in a row that all say the same thing? It’s frustrating.
You read an article with an interesting title and think you’ve found something helpful. Nope. It’s the same thing in a different package.
When you’re doing the writing, you realize how easy it is to fall into this trap. It’s easy to try to rank in searches by parroting what everyone else has to say.
You can rank like that at first, but your rankings will fall. Your audience will seek out different articles because yours didn’t say anything new.
The good news is that you do have something new to say. You have unique experiences and a different perspective. Don’t shove that in a corner because you want to “fit in.”
Be yourself. It’s cliche, but it’s true.
There are a handful of straightforward ways to add to the conversation with your B2B content. Let’s go through them with some examples.
First, you can give a counter-narrative opinion.
The weight loss article we used earlier is an excellent example of this. It flips the search on its head. Someone might be looking for tips to lose weight, and that article says losing weight isn’t the real problem.
Be careful with this one. Don’t give a counter-narrative opinion unless you have something meaningful to add.
Otherwise, you’ll come off as being contrary for the sake of being contrary. Not to mention that your writing won’t make sense.
Second, you can relate a personal narrative to your content.
Share a story from your own experience. For example, talk about how you thought outside the box to solve a common problem.
Third, interview your network connections.
Being a thought leader doesn’t mean you have to think of everything all on your own. The opposite is true. It’s about connecting with people, and you can do that when creating your content.
For example, you can seek out people in a similar position to your ideal audience. Then, you can ask them how they solved common problems or how they wish they would’ve.
Fourth, analyze your industry.
Fifth, tell a story with data.
If you can run a case study or gain unique analytics, great. If not, that’s ok, too.
Look at other case studies and numbers from other people in your niche. You can compile the information from them for your content.
Again, you don’t need to do everything yourself to be a thought leader. You only need to add your take.
Adding to the conversation in these ways helps you build trust by establishing you as an expert.
Without the above examples, you show your audience that you know the same things as everyone else. Those same things are only enough to get by in your niche.
When you add to the conversations by using these tips, you're a cut above your competitors. Your audience will remember you as the person who knew their stuff.
Using expertise is difficult. It’s harder to create than it is to shuffle around things everyone has already said.
You might encounter writer’s block more often. You could still have content that flops.
Adding to the conversation is worth the time and the effort. When it pays off, it pays off big.
Putting in that little bit of extra effort will help you stand out in a sea of content. Standing out means your audience will see you as an expert.
Would you rather hire someone who’s so-so or an expert? Your audience picks “expert,” too.
Fill your online presence with thought leadership content. Your audience will notice. More thought leadership content reinforces your expertise in your audience’s minds.
Learn how to use conversational copywriting here.
You might have noticed a theme by now — addition. You want to add your voice, you want to add something new. You also want to add value to your content.
Most content has the sole purpose of driving conversions. It serves the business that created it, and that’s it.
You have blog posts that focus on SEO ranking only. Video or blog product reviews that are blatant ads. Social media accounts that post bland captions twelve times a day to try and play the numbers game.
That’s only naming a few.
Audiences get bombarded with this kind of content marketing, and they’re tired of it. B2B audiences, in particular, are looking for you to put your money where your mouth is. They’re trusting you with their business. It’s as important to them as your business is to you.
That’s why thought leadership is different. With thought leadership content, you’re playing the long game. This means that driving conversions is on the back burner. Instead, you’re driving conversations.
You’re trying to add something of worth to your audience’s lives. So focus on the reader, don’t worry about your conversions.
Increased conversions are a guaranteed by-product of the main goal — being helpful and knowing the subject.
When writing thought leadership content, the first step is to find your audience’s needs. Start by asking yourself what problems you haven’t solved. If you can’t think of any, that’s ok, it’s time to start researching.
First, do a web search based on the keywords your audience searches. “Best healthy snacks on the go,” for instance.
Next, you can look at the content your direct competitors put out.
Then, go anywhere you can find your audience’s voice and listen.
Finally, if you have access to them, interview your audience.
To create inspiring B2B content, you need to be inquisitive. Ask questions, then ask follow-up questions, then ask follow-ups to your follow-ups.
This is also an excellent place to keep that list of ways to add to the conversation in mind. When you know how you want to add to the conversation, you also know how to research. Good research will help you find the holes in your niche.
Once you have a good sense of what’s missing in your niche, you can start creating content. Your content will be memorable and inspire conversations. You’ll talk about what no one else is talking about, and your audience will respond.
Focusing on the reader will ensure you don’t fall into the other two traps we’ve discussed. When your only goal is adding value to your audience, you won’t be generic. Instead, you’ll find the exact thing they need.
You won’t end up being a parrot, either. Focusing on your reader means you don’t want to repeat what others have said. Instead, you’ll be reaching out to offer a unique insight.
The most important benefit? Focusing on your reader builds trust.
You don’t come across as scammy or ingenuine. Your reader doesn’t see your content as a ploy for a top Google spot or a blatant ad reaching for their wallet.
They see you for what you are — someone trying to add value to their lives.
Your audience will feel like you’re writing to them because you are. Thought leadership content focuses on one niche where you have experience and expertise.
They’ll feel you understand them because you do.
To create good thought leadership content, you need to research. Research gives you a unique insight into your audience’s perspective. That’s a valuable asset for a content creator.
Remember when I said that conversions are a by-product of good thought leadership? This is why.
Your audience will trust you more when they feel seen and valued. Trust drives conversions.
Here are the reasons why consumers purchase things.
With thought leadership content, your relationship with your audience is more than transactional.
Gone are the days of pushy pitching. Thought leaders aren’t trying to get something out of their audience. They’re trying to give and people respond to that.
When your audience sees what you’re trying to give, they aren’t on guard. They’re open and receptive to your message.
Remember, you’re establishing a foundation for a relationship. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and thought leadership also takes time. Be patient. Put in the time, thought, and effort.
People need to see you as a professional and an expert. You want to be the person your audience goes to for help, advice, and a fresh perspective. Be that person and you’ll gain a loyal following of people who like what you have to say.
Your conversions will improve because you’re no longer selling a product or a service only. You’re selling expertise. You’re selling wisdom.
In B2B copy, especially, expertise and wisdom sell better than the best product. Not to mention, there’s no cost for the audience.
Business owners know when someone is trying to hustle them. That means they also know when an expert has something genuine to offer. Your job as a thought leader is to provide something with real worth.
When you establish yourself as a thought leader, your audience will flock to you. They trust you with their business. That’s because they can see everything you offer shining through.
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