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4 rules for B2B thought leadership success

It seems every B2B company’s marketing goal is to be a thought leader. To be recognized as a thought leader, you need to do more than hire a PR firm.

Being a thought leader is about harnessing your company’s expertise to provide increased value to customers. Done well, thought leadership can be monetized.  But, not everyone is cut out to be a thought leader. You must possess certain characteristics.

After years of working with trailblazers in the B2B healthcare and manufacturing sectors, we’ve compiled a list of the rules for success in a PR thought leadership campaign.

  1. Accept that it’s not about you.

Thought leaders take an outside-in approach: they focus more on solving others’ problems than on themselves. They show, rather than tell. It might sound very obvious, but so many wanna-be influencers make the mistake of talking about how great they are.

  1. Do more than state the obvious.

Thought leaders don’t repeat what everyone else is saying. They have a perspective that dives deeper than the surface of a topic or trend. They assess, evaluate and offer recommendations. They’re also not afraid to invest in market research to obtain original data that brings a new angle to topics that have already been played out.

  1. Identify with or buck trends.

Make predictions. Tell people where the industry is headed.

I’m not suggesting you make forward-looking statements about your company. Instead, make statements like:

Here’s what’s really interesting…

There’s an emerging trend that companies need to be prepared for…

I’m hearing a lot of talk about…

What I think we’ll see happen is…

  1. Put yourself out there.

Don’t play it safe. Don’t try to make everyone happy.

In today’s social media-driven world where brands have been rewarded time and again for showing authenticity and “telling it like it is,” it’s shocking how many B2B companies take a far-too-conservative approach to thought leadership. Here’s my advice: Controversy gets headlines. So, don’t be so quick to turn down opportunities to comment on something that smells even remotely provocative or polarized. There’s always a way to make the opportunity safe. Consider this: Political correspondents make a living covering divisive topics every day. It’s their job to report what’s happening and predict what might happen next, without expressing an opinion on the issue. Work with your PR consultant to find your “industry correspondent” voice. I promise, it’s really not that hard.

Thought leaders who ace these 4 rules become sought-after sources for media. The resulting media coverage promotes their company’s expertise, elevates their brand visibility and supports business growth.

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