Laura Ramos of Forrester once said, “Business buyers don’t buy into your product; they buy into your approach to solving their problems.”
And that is a stark truism in the technology space.
By producing content that is well-curated, well-researched and built around your buyer personas’ most pressing problems, you align your lead generation to your content marketing efforts. And in the process, position yourself as a thought leader.
Marketing Insider defines thought leadership as "providing the best and deepest answers to your customers’ biggest questions, in formats your audience likes to consume". It explores esoteric goals and challenges for searchers that are hungry for well-placed, solution-based content.
But content in the technology sector is often ephemeral. It’s a challenge to stick around long enough to be noticed before a trend is quickly overtaken by something more current.
To be the best in such a fiercely competitive industry, content needs to be differentiated and unique. And to become a thought leader you must resolve to create content that is:
A blog dated 2017 in January 2018 could already be deemed outdated. The tech world is time-sensitive. Things are changing fast, and trends are short-lived. And for that reason, it’s not as easy to produce evergreen content in the technology sector.
But from the perspective of a thought leader, consider what it means to your customer now.
If you know your buyer personas and you have established their biggest pain points, you can align your content offering to each stage of the buyer’s journey. You could start by segmenting your audiences into the awareness, consideration, and decision stages. In doing so, you aim to answer their questions at the right time, rather than posting arbitrary content based on what happens to be trending.
The B2B buying process is laced with complexities, influencers and multiple decisions-makers. Technology professionals want facts and figures.
In such a fast-paced landscape, there's little time for waffly, wishy-washy content. Answer the questions of your prospects and solve problems fast, empowering them with something to share.
Carrying out your own research to support your content strategy is an impactful way of cutting through the noise. What's more, if your research is relevant, current and unique, it’s an opportunity to gain helpful backlinks from other sources that will boost your SEO.
A thought leader inspires their prospects to take action, but you won't achieve this through guesswork. You need to state the facts with reliable research, be that primary or secondary.
If you have the capacity and resources to do so, why not conduct your own research to support your thought leadership? Interviewing customers and quoting their insights is an excellent way to add authenticity and substance to your content.
Similarly, if you are referencing studies or statistics in your post, be sure to check that it reflects the current state of the industry, and is as relevant and up-to-date as possible. Hubspot advises against backdating technology statistics more than two years.
The trick to thought leadership is to empower your prospects with the knowledge to solve a challenge. But also to establish enough authority and trust that they would prefer to hire you to do the work.
If you can provide solutions to their problems with your content strategy, you actively nurture these prospects through the sales funnel. You are using your content platform as a mechanism for unobtrusive selling, without actively trying to sell anything.
If your content gives something back, the reader is likely to build an affinity and loyalty to your brand, and when they're ready to buy, they'll be more likely to choose you over competitors.
As the thought leader of your industry, you should be the first the provide the solution and in the best, most helpful manner possible. If you spot another source delivering content on a subject you'd like to rank for, one that's gaining a lot of traction, resolve to outdo that content. Either with a better solution, or more remarkable content.
As mentioned earlier, a thought leader uses formats their audiences like to consume. With some A/B testing and analytic tools, you can quickly identify the preferred formats of your audiences.
It's a common misconception that content marketing is limited to blogs and white papers. Have you considered recording an interview with a customer and publishing it as a webcast? Or, repurposing a solution-based blog as a presentation? Long-form written content isn’t for everyone, particularly those with visual impairments, or for whom English is not their first language. Presentations and other visual content is highly shareable, and if you give your prospects something easy to consume and share, they’re more likely to favour your content over others.
Do you know where your buyers are looking for answers? It’s not always where you think. With a myriad of channels and platforms available, it pays to research and utilise techniques such as social listening. This helps you ascertain which are the best places to position your content. For example, if discussions are taking place on involving keywords in your industry on LinkedIn, this could be a worthwhile place to start.
Conversely, if your competitors garner lots of interest on platforms such as Twitter, that might be a good testing ground for you to capture some of that traffic.
If you're ready to start creating thoughtful thought leadership content for your technology company, there are a few things to bear in mind.
First, you have to retrain yourself and your teams to sell your ideas, rather than your products. And be willing to give them away for free.
It sounds counterproductive, but, being the first to offer a unique perspective on an esoteric goal or frustration can catapult you in front of prospective buyers, who'll begin to build an affinity with your brand. This is a technique that helps you gain authority and trust; invaluable tools in the B2B buying process.
What makes this more of a challenge for technology companies is the rapid rate at which the industry is growing. Tech trends come and go, and so do solutions. B2B technology marketing requires continual research, learning and planning. And, if necessary, a willingness to adapt your strategy.
If you'd like to learn more about content marketing and how to apply this to your strategy, read our free ebook.