Canada’s industrial sector, like most, relies on relationships defined by a company’s capacity to deliver on their promises. Growth-minded players in this field understand the value thought-leadership content can have in building rapport, enhancing trust, and converting prospects into clients all while growing the brand community.
A recent 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study surveyed 1,200 business decision-makers, content creators, and salespeople to understand how each group valued thought leadership as a useful tool for their business. One key discovery was a major disconnect between how brands value thought leadership content and how useful it is in growing both brand awareness and engagement.
“Marketers who treat thought leadership as a means of driving only awareness worry less about how fulfilled an audience is when reading content. That is a costly mistake.” — Senior Director, Head of Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn
So – if you pump out content just to get your name in front of people, you’re wasting your money. If content is going to work, it must engage your audience who will assign value to it because they experienced learning, inspiration, or discovered actionable insights. By association, they will assign value to your brand community.
The fact is over 55% of those surveyed indicated they select organizations based on their content; they also remove businesses from consideration if they don’t see a strong thought leadership presence. As many industrial companies and suppliers continue to judge companies based on their content, smart brands are waking up to the power and enduring value of content marketing.
What Kind of Content Do I Need?
A thought leadership content strategy needs to be planned carefully around areas of expertise where a business can deliver genuinely bold and original thinking — and do so concisely and with impact. Studies show business decision-makers are looking for genuinely valuable thinking (73% say half of the thought leadership they see lacks valuable insights), relevance (60% say that content relating to what they are working on is a critical factor influencing them to engage), boldness (93% believe it’s important for companies to set out a clear vision for the future) and credible authorship and sharing (83% say they are more likely to respond to content from someone they know and respect). If you can create content that hits on all 4 themes, you’re more likely to become a well of information that consumers continue to tap into.
Video content is the most immersive content form – and artform – human beings have created. They create emotion in your audience, and your audience makes decisions inspired first on emotion – even when making decisions about industrial or technology-based products, equipment or services.
Using sophisticated forms of video content is a powerful way to share your brand narrative in a way that virtually demands engagement. Branded motion-pictures are an authentic representation of not just your work, but of your approach to getting the work done. Almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before they consider a purchase, so investing in brand videos as part of your storytelling efforts is critical. Below is an example of a brand motion-picture video we created for Crown Industrial Roofing:
Brand Community Building – Literally and Figuratively
Your brand is more than just a cool video, logo, or a website – think of it as a living, breathing community. Once you embrace this perspective, you’ll see branding as more than just promoting a product or service offering. Branding invites, enlists, engages and keeps your customers in the brand. They act as though they have taken up residence there, as if it’s a destination. As long as you keep delivering on your promises (or core values), they will remain loyal. Branding is largely about communicating the depth of your promises and reminding your community how well they’re being kept.
The reality is that people don’t buy brands – they buy into them. Seeing your brand as a community, and creating branding strategies and tactics that engage with that community, will help turn your customers into vocal advocates of your brand. THAT grows your business.
Building Rapport With Content
Building rapport with your audience online is an essential first-step in the path-to-purchase you want your prospects to take. Thought leadership content jump-starts this by engaging with potential customers before they even realize they need you. From the moment they see your content, engage with it, and experience value, they start the path-to-purchase journey in earnest.
Quality thought leadership content empowers your prospects to conduct their own needs assessment without having to bug you about it. In effect, you’re building rapport with potential customers who then explore your offerings and make an informed decision about whether to reach out to you. When they do, they are significantly further along the path to purchase, saving everyone time – and money.
The key is quality based on basic criteria: Is it relevant? Original? Does it offer insights, examples, or other prescriptive ideas your readers can action without ever calling you? The sense of “giving” is essential to creating content that resonates with your readers.
So, What Business Are You In?
The products or services you offer have been created with a sense of purpose, and a focus on excellence and determination to excel in the market. That said, are you also in the content marketing and branding business? You would certainly benefit from professional-grade services in this area of your enterprise – but is it a core competency of your business? Unless you trade in content as a consultant, a workshop provider, or an author, it’s unlikely you possess the agility or skill set to plan and execute a comprehensive and results-oriented content marketing plan.
Just as you wouldn’t do your own dentistry, seek out experienced professionals who have demonstrated skills in this vital aspect of modern business and brand community building. Then you can focus on developing and delivering products and services that fulfill your promises every … single … day.