Beyond the buzz: What is thought-leadership content and why does it matter for B2B businesses?

Thinker sitting on a rock

If you were to log in to LinkedIn and scroll, chances are you would run into the term 'thought-leadership' within 5 minutes. A buzzword in the corporate community, many of us have been told to 'do thought leadership content'  without truly understanding what that means or what its outcomes are.

Done right, thought-leadership is the single most brand-differentiating content marketing asset a company can produce. It takes more than broadcasting an opinion – but what exactly does it mean, and why does it matter for B2B businesses?

In this article, we’ll share exactly what thought-leadership is and how you can begin mastering the skill to grow your business. Let's start with the basics: what is thought-leadership?

So, what is thought-leadership content?

Thought-leadership isn’t a type of content—it’s an approach to content.

When you say you want to do thought leadership, you’re articulating the relationship you want your company to have with your space. You’re describing how you want your brand to be seen by your customers, competitors, and industry as a whole. It has to be deeply rooted in your unique perspective or experience or expertise.

Before you dive into thought-leadership, it has to be your goal to be a leader in your industry and showcase your internal experts. It’s called thought-leadership for a reason, and the strategy and content will require both a developed plan and a ‘spokesperson’ from your company. Channels such as LinkedIn, media articles, and podcasts will become your best friends. If this all sounds good, then thought-leadership is for you.

Why Thought-Leadership Matters for the B2B Industry

We’ve seen that thought-leadership can work well for businesses in the B2B space. Especially for niche and technical industries, the community created through thought-leadership allows for the flow of complex ideas that is necessary to build trust and support in your brand:

  • Internal department heads can speak to target audiences directly and attract top talent
  • Individuals such as CEOs will gain respect from investors and early customers
  • Niche, technical content can be shared that speaks to your specific industry and expertise

For the B2B industry, thought-leadership is also important to make the marketing communication more human-centric, taking an empathetic, personalized approach to your marketing strategy. How better to do this than by creating authentic conversation? Thought-leadership speaks to your target audience and invites them to engage with you, building brand loyalty.

As a strategy, thought-leadership can deliver the following benefits, based on your own goals and aims:

Goals, Aims, Benefits & Results

  • Position yourself above the competition as subject-matter experts
    • Articulating thought-provoking content shows that you go above and beyond by not only knowing your expert subject but leading others in important conversations from it as well.
  • Broadcast your knowledge in relevantly low volume competition spaces like LinkedIn
    • With so much noise on social channels, it can feel impossible to get your voice heard. LinkedIn, however, provides a space in which your knowledge can gain traction and create an impact.
  • Position your c-suite as attractive for continuous stakeholder investment
    • Authentic, original, and compelling content should be a goal for business leaders as much as it is for their business page. By positioning your c-suite as an extension of your business, you will gain trust with your target audience and stakeholders.
  • Gain more brand exposure
    • By positioning experts on media, releasing interviews and podcasts, and posting on LinkedIn, you will grow your brand in a way that leads to more revenue, projects, gaining more market share, and more.

Subject Matter Experts

To see some people killing the thought-leadership game, and perhaps gather insight on how you can approach sharing knowledge too, we recommend giving these LinkedIn thought-leaders a follow:

Want to see more of our favourites? Check out our 5 LinkedIn Thought-leaders Worth Following .

Sources of Thought Leadership Content to Include in Your Strategy

You’ve decided that thought-leadership is the right avenue for you and are ready to create content. It may seem daunting to begin that next stage, but we have a few ways you can conceptualize and structure your content:

  • Counter-narrative opinions
    • Going ‘against the status quo’ is a sure way to catch people’s attention. If you have a strong opinion that goes against your industry’s conventional ideas – and rings true to others – share it to begin the conversation and create buzz. Your network will see you as a trustworthy leader.
  • Personal narrative
    • Personal and anecdotes are what can truly bring a brand’s story to life. Connect with your network in the most authentic way while also providing value by sharing your own experiences and life lessons.
  • Network connections
    • Your network is a valuable part of your product, and growing it will do the same to your business. Think about your business leaders, partners, vendors – they are the people whose voices you can utilize. Elevate their knowledge to create a community of support.
  • Industry Analysis
    • A great way to position yourself as an industry leader is to demonstrate that you know exactly what is going on within your industry. Is there a new trend you see developing? A tool you’ve found useful? Let your network know and showcase that expertise.
  • Data storytelling
    • Data is a great base for thought-leadership content. Whether you’ve collected the data yourself or found it in research, analyzing data, placing a unique perspective on it, and offering insights will create interesting content for readers to digest.

Still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of thought-leadership? MTC can help you create LinkedIn strategies to develop your thought-leadership plan, and we also offer LinkedIn workshops to help your B2B marketing team make better use of the networking platform.

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CEO LinkedIn Lead Strategy Lead

Megan is the CEO of MTC | The Content Agency. As CEO, she’s in charge of making sure the team fulfills client project expectations and everything runs smoothly. As Lead Strategist, her strategy background is provided on all projects – LinkedIn Marketing, SEO, Content Strategy, and Content Writing. Based in Berlin, Megan enjoys long bike rides around the city.