2 Ways to Build Consistent Trust (aka Thought Leadership) in a Fickle B2B Market 

Estimated reading time: 12 minute(s)

In November 2019, MarketSmiths’ blog content covered ways your brand can awaken interest, generate SEO value, then build a low-risk sales engine—just with words.

It’s not simply that these tactics are comparably low-cost and low-maintenance. It’s that nearly all companies require words in order simply to come into public being. So you can opt for words that don’t do squat (a poorly-positioned, hum-drum website, genericisms no one relates to, jargon no one understands, etc.). Or you can put your words to work—and fill your pipeline with strong, eager, and qualified leads. 

Today, we’ll add another item to layer over these foundational components. 

In a fast and fickle marketplace, how do you continuously refine and fuel your market position?

That’s a question many marketing directors grapple with, given limited internal resources. 

The answer is not a quick fix—and that’s both the bad news and the good. Building trust and rapport with your audience takes time, expertise, and discipline.

  • The expertise is twofold: 1) what you know (your in-house thought leadership) and how to keep it compelling (a good copywriter’s).  
  • The discipline? Just stay focused. That part’s the good news: once you find the ideal resource, keep your output steady and unswerving.
  • Add time, and voila! Trust springs forth. 

If this sounds difficult, take heart. Here’s a relatively easy, two-pronged approach. 

Case Studies: What they are & why you need them 

Case studies are a critical content marketing tool used by sales teams to dive deeper into a brand’s most compelling success stories. Depending on how and when they’re used in the sales funnel, they can also be incredibly effective at closing deals. For example, tech company Optinlink shows how leveraging case studies helped increase their conversions 500 to a whopping 1000%

Any well-written case study:

  • Posits your reader as customers, without artifice. Leads can envision how they might engage with your business.
  • Brings your value to life, by contextualizing benefits and quantifying results  

Make them specific and short (one-page is enough), and focus on three parts: the strategy, the action, and customer results. Make your writing dynamic—and tell a story that weaves in specifics, without dwelling on unnecessary (or proprietary!) details. 

Thought Leadership: What it is & how you build it

Tapping into the talent, experience, and passion of a business and/or community, this type of content covers the trends and topics that influence an industry. And it works: research shows that nearly half of a typical b2b C-suite vets an organization through its thought leadership content—and 81% say their trust increases after engaging with it. 

Whether webinars, blog posts, speaker-engagements, white papers, etc—thought leadership will help establish your brand as having expertise in the field. And though anyone can be a thought leader (executives, customers, product managers, designers, customer service or even sales reps) — the key is offering value. Examples include: 

  • Deep, original (consumer or peer) research 
  • Content that outlines customer challenges, and defines ways to overcome them. Many brands make the mistake of foregoing the opportunity to frame their own solutions in this way—but that kind of content actually creates the best thought leadership; after all, it’s what the marketplace values you for. Think twice about being coy
  • Content that showcases experiential results, such as product use cases.  

Marketing strategist Michael Brenner put it like this: 

“It’s not (just) pedigree. It’s not where you went to school. Thought Leadership means you provide the best and deepest answers to your customers’ biggest questions, in the formats your audience likes to consume.” 

Done well, this is the type of content that keeps your audience coming back for more. 

How to ensure your case studies and thought leadership converts 

So how does a company go about creating such persuasive and effective content on a regular basis? 

Keep in mind that less is more: even a few pieces of well-researched, well-written content beats out a mountain of drivel. 

You can cut corners—leaning on freelancers, hiring writers from a content farm (don’t do it!), or assigning pieces to a marketing team member whose plate is already full. But this can cost your bottom line in other ways—including pieces that don’t engage, or an inability to stay consistent or to bring your efforts to scale. 

At MarketSmiths, we marry your in-house substantive experience with our ability to make people sit up and take noticeIf this sounds like a helpful resource for your team, wink at us today

 

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Sarah Lybrand

Sarah is a writer, producer, and mom, not in that order, and thinks these pursuits may have a few things in common: not sleeping, heavy drinking, and flying by the seat of some probably-stained pants. But her love for cracking open a new topic and swimming in it means she’s had the pleasure of learning about, and writing content as varied as personal finance, corporate learning, non-traditional relationships, orgasmic births, and, what it means to be person who is both a mom and a lover of coffee. You can find her work in trade magazines, corporate websites, feminist rags, parenting blogs, and just maybe, in a page-turning, tell-all memoir one day.

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