Now is the time to think about thought leadership as a B2B social selling strategy. When you are in the business of B2B selling, it is no longer enough to cold call a business professional and hope they bite. Businesses are being flooded with offers from other callers, conferences, and people in their networks. In order to stand out from the crowd, you have to make yourself stand out as a thought leader. According to a 2013 study, 68 percent of B2B marketers report thought leadership marketing as one of their content marketing goals. But how exactly do you become a thought leader?
Gaining Trust and Credibility
It might be obvious, but one of the best ways to become a thought leader is to set yourself up as trustworthy and credible.
There is an old saying, “It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” When it comes to gaining trust and credibility, this should be the guiding factor.
Talk about the things you know well. Make sure everything you say is valid, well-researched, and adds value to the topic. When you are not as confident in your opinions, listen to others and learn instead of trying to make points you are not prepared to make. In this way, when you speak, people will want to listen.
Having and Maintaining Focus
Similar to the last point, finding a few select specialties to focus on in your marketing and sales can vastly improve the results. To use another saying, you can be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. However, when it comes down to thought leaders, people don’t want to take advice from the jack — they want to listen to the master.
While it is fine to be a generalist in your actual business practice, pick one or two areas you really know and focus your efforts on those topics. Build a few key points around those topics and use them as your signature pieces of content. Then create some key services around those concepts as well to cement your reputation as an expert.
After you’ve developed your signature topics and services, and delivered mastery in those, it becomes much easier to cross-sell or up-sell other related services. Once you have become a master, people will have a stronger appetite to listen to you when you discuss your other service offerings.
When it comes to B2B social selling, it is not best practice to be the wise guru on top of the mountain that people come to only in the most extreme need. You want to be out there everyday teaching and building relationships. There are several ways for you to do this.
- Be a speaker at an industry conference or panel
- Create a blog and other social media accounts and work on building an audience of engaged users
- Get published in journals and magazines
- Guest blog for others in your industry
- Create webinars, and where appropriate, take the steps to get it certified by accreditation industries so that you may offer credits
Building Long-term Results and Relationships
Your content marketing strategy just got you a bunch of sales. Congratulations! Now what? Gaining customers means nothing if you cannot keep them. Think of it like movie stardom. You can get noticed by a couple of casting agents and become “the next big thing,” but what then? You can become a Jon Heder — with one big hit, Napoleon Dynamite, and then a couple of small roles until everyone practically forgets you exist. Or you can be a George Clooney.
To become a Clooney of B2B social selling, you have to harness your initial success and turn it into a lasting dynasty. You do this by building the relationships your thought leadership created and making sure they are not forgotten in favor of making another sale.
Once they start working with you, your next step is to make them a lifetime client. It’s your job to make sure they want to stay with you once their contract has run out.
Having an Opinion
The businesses that are the most successful at B2B social content marketing are the ones that are not afraid to take risks. Do not just spew out facts that everybody already knows or could easily find out. Form opinions and predictions on the things that can really help your audience.
Selling in today’s market can be brutal, but if you become the brand people think of as the best by becoming a respected thought leader in your industry, then your product practically sells itself.