You may have been hearing the phrase thought leadership quite a bit lately. And you may be wondering what on earth is behind that buzzy marketing lingo. In this blog we’ll explain what it is, how much you need, and why it’s a critical part of your sales strategy.
Thought Leader /THôt ˈlēdər/ – A thought leader is an individual or organization that is recognized as an authority, and whose expertise in a specific field is sought and often rewarded. Thought leadership is a type of content marketing.
If you or your company is recognized as a thought leader that means you provide valuable insight—identifying pain points and steps toward solutions—into to your customers’ biggest questions, in the formats they like to consume.
For example: We are an authority on making marketing work for sales, and we are showing you one way to do just that—through a thought leadership blog, on thought leadership. You follow?
Ok, so why should sales care about thought leadership?
- It positions your sales reps as industry leaders. They become the go-to people to find information about current industry trends. It makes them look good—and your company too.
- It builds customer trust. Your sales reps become part of the conversation, and the content they offer allows their audiences to get to know them.
- It creates value. Customers are getting more than just the usual set of sales-focused touch points. They are getting real information to help their businesses thrive.
- It informs business decisions and can get people to take the next step in their journey. When there are a variety of opinions on the table or key decisions to be made, thought leadership can be used as a resource, backed by experience and data.
Lessons Learned: Interview with Kelly Hayes, North Star Marketing’s Success Evangelist
As the newest member of the NSM team, I wanted to gain some insight on thought leadership and its importance in Sales Amp. So, I sat down with Kelly Hayes, fellow Account Manager and passionate thought leader herself.
JH: Can you share your perspective on thought leadership and its importance in a Sales Amp campaign?
KH: Thought leadership is the backbone to all campaigns. And campaigns require a lot of it! We now plan out at least 6 months of content before we begin a Sales Amp campaign. Creating a well-thought-out editorial calendar—PRIOR to launch—greatly increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the campaign.
JH: Can you tell us about some of your experiences with Sales Amp clients?
KH: I’ve seen clients come into Sales Amp with two very different approaches to thought leadership:
With one client we took a deep dive into the thought leadership they had at the very beginning of the campaign. We planned out themes for the first 6 months of launches, identified holes and what new pieces we needed. This gave us a head start on content and everything was mapped out, so the sales reps could see the whole story ahead of it being told.
With another client, we began with only a few thought leadership pieces on hand. In this case, we were planning content month by month. Trying to develop new pieces each month to fit pain points is like building the car as you drive it—not effective!
These two different scenarios reinforce for us that it is not only more efficient to have content developed before the campaign launches, but that the campaigns with pre-planned content are more successful generating leads for sales.
JH: Its impact on marketing is clear, but why do you think having a content plan is important to sales?
KH: It’s important because:
- A thought leadership plan allows communication to be on a consistent cadence, allowing regular touch points so you always stay top-of-mind with your audience. In turn, this cues up engaged prospects for your inside sales team to nurture.
- Thought leadership is shared through a mix of tactics, such as emails, social media and direct mail. If there is no content to engage with through the tactics, then no leads are getting passed to sales.
JH: Thanks, Kelly. Last question: Can you explain to readers how you use thought leadership to drive Sales Amp?
KH: Our Sales Amp wheel illustrates our process. You’ll see thought leadership starts at Step 2, and fuels the tactics we use in Step 3. When we pull the metrics in Step 4, we can see who engages with the thought leadership, which drives the activity at Step 5—prospecting that generates appointments for sales.
If you are interested in driving sales, we encourage you to take some time to evaluate the depth of your content library, understand where the holes are and how you can fill them.
- Download this chart to help you identify pain points and themes to create a roadmap to solutions and identify where your holes are.
- Wondering how to get the content you need to drive sales? We’d be happy to help!
Contact us today to learn more.