Founder at TrendCandy: TrendCandy creates original survey research on trending topics that clients share as marketing, content and PR.
There’s a widening trust gap in the world of B2B marketing. Buyers, the press, industry analysts and opinion leaders simply no longer trust most of the content that B2B brands publish. There’s too much of it, and most of it “sells” instead of helps.
Sadly, these trust gaps turn both buyers and marketers into losers. Buyers lose because they waste time sifting through an ocean of noise before getting the help they seek. B2B marketers lose by missing targets and wasting cycles, producing content that never connects.
I’ve seen the maturity arc of content marketing as a strategy. I’ve watched marketing content evolve from a promising new tool that delivers true value to buyers into an overused, bad-faith gimmick that delivers more opinion than fact, more product spin than value and more clickbait than thought leadership.
But if done right, I’ve seen how offering real, selfless thought leadership instead of product hype can create a lead pipeline, shorten sales cycles, build trust and give you credibility.
For over 20 years, I’ve worked with marketing and PR teams to find a go-to way to project authority and close that trust gap with content. This approach establishes instant credibility, breaks through the content chaos, drives qualified leads and closes deals at both ends of the funnel.
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How do we do it? We conduct original survey research on trending topics and turn the survey data into top-performing ebooks, infographics, reports, blog posts, press pitches and webinars. It’s a seven-step process.
Whether you’re in tech, healthcare, consulting, business services or other B2B markets, the key to building a B2B thought leadership profile is to bridge the trust gap. Your goal is to get buyers to buy into you by sharing valuable survey data.
Here are the seven steps you can take to do this consistently:
1. Pick the right target audience.
Carefully select who you are trying to reach. Know their industry, title, needs, pain points, goals and interests.
2. Choose a conversation you want to start.
Pick a study topic that will start new conversations around what your target audience is already talking about. Check media articles, industry blogs, opinion leaders and other resources to know what’s on the mind of your target audience.
For example, during a period of widespread teachers’ union strikes that was gathering nationwide media coverage, one EdTech client surveyed teachers about how technology and government support can help them be more effective educators. This timely research was covered right along with the press coverage of the strikes.
3. Plan out how and when to share your data.
Map out a plan for how you plan to share your survey insights. Which journalists will you share your data with? What kind of content assets will you launch? How will your executives share the results in their circles? How will your sales teams use your data to book appointments with buyers? Use the same tactics that have worked in the past, but this time, fold in a new angle: sharing original survey research no one else has.
4. Execute a survey with a sound methodology.
Write, program and launch your survey online to a sample of respondents who meet your requirements for qualifying. When you get the results, analyze your survey data by going through data tables, open-ended comments, top lines and banners. If you partner with a vendor to help run your research, look for one that understands how to design and translate research into a consumable and engaging format suitable for content and PR narratives.
5. Mine the top headlines in your survey data.
Pull out about 30 of the top headlines from your data. Headlines are simply the main takeaways from your research distilled into easy-to-understand sound bites. Your headlines should offer insights that are surprising, provocative and action-oriented. Ask your SEO, PR, content and product marketing teams to help pick their favorite headlines so everyone has something they like and can use.
6. Pitch your headlines to journalists with the right angles.
Share your headlines in a press pitch to your target journalists under embargo. You should choose an angle for your pitch based on the types of articles the journalist has written about in the past or based on articles the journalist expects to write about in the future. Follow up as your embargo date nears.
7. Execute a content campaign.
Develop and launch your content assets as outlined in your plan from Step 3. You may choose to release all your assets at once or drip them out over time. In either case, some of your assets should be gated to generate leads.
Following these steps, you can share data, not just opinion. You can make your content trusted and irresistible with data that grows buyers. You can package your insights in creative and innovative ways. You can create a competitive marketing advantage by sharing value instead of product spin.
Most of all, you can do this regularly, dependably and cost-effectively using technology and creativity.
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Author: Justin Ethington, Forbes Councils Member