Easy methods to Attain the C-Suite by way of Thought Management

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For the last several years, dire warnings of “content material shock” have forged doubt on the continued means of thought management content – or any sort of content material advertising – to ship outcomes. But new analysis supplies recent encouragement for thought leadership marketers, particularly those concentrating on senior-level choice makers.

I sat down with Gareth Lofthouse, one of many co-founders of the thought leadership company Longitude, to get a preview of the findings of their study, “Learning from the Leaders.”

To start with, do you draw a distinction between thought leadership content material and other content advertising?

Gareth Lofthouse:
There's an terrible lot of content on the market in the meanwhile which, at greatest, is fascinating opinion, and never rather more than that. At worst, it’s self-serving and slightly salesy. Good thought leadership does more than that. It brings unique insight backed by evidence, and that’s why you see research as an enormous part of the thought management combine.

Good thought leadership content

The C-Suite has all the time been troublesome for marketers to succeed in, let alone interact in a significant method. Does your new analysis determine any promising new paths for getting content material to the corner workplaces?

Gareth Lofthouse:
What was actually, really encouraging for me with this analysis (and we surveyed over 1000 senior executives from a cross-section of industries, when it comes to how they interact with any such content) is that they worth thought leadership…providing it’s good.

And “good” executive-level thought management content means:

  • It supplies new perception
  • It’s related to my drawback
  • It’s backed by credible analysis

That came throughout very strongly. They like opinion, however opinion by itself isn't enough. It has to deliver something else, some evidence behind the assertions being made.

However in the event you take those three things and you then convey them to life in a approach that’s straightforward to eat and fascinating to interact with, there’s a hunger for it.  There’s sufficient happening on the planet, enough challenges that these executives are uncertain about, so actual perception that tells them something they don’t know, that helps them remedy their business problems, is effective sufficient for them to interact with.

Other issues we discovered embrace how lengthy they spend consuming thought management.

  • On average, on this research, senior executives are spending 4 hours consuming totally different forms of thought management content material each week.
Senior executives are spending four hours per week consuming different forms of thought leadership content. Click To Tweet

Should you examine that to a few of the metrics that digital marketers speak about, measuring success when it comes to seconds and minutes, that exhibits one thing that has actual energy.

What did the analysis say concerning the influence of efficient thought leadership?

Gareth Lofthouse:
It exhibits that senior executives use it to inform decision-making. For example, once they perceive a brand to be exceptionally good at thought management, then they are extra more likely to favor that brand when it comes to considering them for business tenders.

You’ve checked out how senior individuals use and eat content material – but what are your observations on their position in formulating, projecting and leveraging thought management? Do they must be thought leaders themselves?

Gareth Lofthouse:
The easiest organizations have an alignment between the advertising perform and the leadership perform that’s driving these packages and campaigns everyday.

However the packages that work are the ones that have a very senior business stakeholder or a set of business stakeholders who need to own the message. They've purchased into this system right from day one, and their mission is to be the face of the campaign.

And that goes internally. So, if there’s a very senior business sponsor, ideally proper as much as the C-Suite, he or she ought to be saying, “That is our massive guess for the yr, that is one thing we absolutely have to build our fame profile round, and I'm going to be out there talking about this.”

As an example, we’ve worked with a brand referred to as AECOM, which is a pacesetter within the architectural and engineering business. They use this type of work at locations like Davos, on the World Economic Forum, the place their senior individuals are up on the podium, referring to the research and serving to to determine the corporate’s credentials as the facilitator and the leader of their business on specific points.

That’s once you get an actual pair off, I feel, on content. It hops from studies and text-based or even video-based outputs proper into the dialogue of the group, and it gets knitted into the C-Suite dialog.

What varieties of content are clicking with the C-Suite?

Gareth Lofthouse: 
One of many other things that we’ve discovered from the analysis we’ve finished just lately is that you must give your enterprise audience selection.

Plenty of individuals favor to eat info today in a video or a podcast. Nevertheless, there are nonetheless plenty of our executives who're traditionalists, when it comes to their willingness to focus on text. So, I wouldn’t rule out the worth of longer-form belongings, definitely when it comes to displaying there’s real substance and credibility. You want that blend of great research, extra digestible, snackable content material, and every thing in between. This pendulum keeps swinging forwards and backwards.

What do you see on the horizon, when it comes to government thought leadership?

Gareth Lofthouse:
We’re predicting quite a couple of shifts. It’s a really fluid area in cutting-edge practices shifting forward. 

The first is, I suppose, a extra agile mannequin for thought management. There’s undoubtedly a sense that the model as practiced by corporates needs to move on from something where you do a challenge that begins with a very heavy-duty survey. You roll out the content material, then the whole marketing campaign comes along. Earlier than you understand it, you’ve sunk 9 months into this undertaking before there’s even anything able to share out there.

That’s shifting now to having one thing that’s more iterative, and perhaps more of a multi-track course of on the research, so there are tales to inform and insights to share from, say, month two. And we start getting a narrative on the market and seating the market across the concept. Perhaps that’s more qualitative-based, or more opinion, but you’re additionally trailing the release of larger belongings.

With that seek for agility, the research toolkit is being challenged and expanded, so we ourselves are increasingly utilizing issues like social media listening and sentiment-type tools. It’s taken some time for our cottage business, in the event you like, to know learn how to use these to create strong analysis output that’s convincing enough for the C-Suite. But I feel that we’re attending to that realm now. It’s a lot quicker, and it’s far more cost-effective than a few of these highly-engineered approaches.

I don’t assume we’re going to see the survey disappearing, but I feel it’s being complemented by some much more agile options. In order that’s one of the massive developments, agile.

One other development is that we’re going to see a coming together, in case you like, of knowledge plus creativity. In the meanwhile, the content material campaigns that you simply see out there, the large ones, are main on the normal thought management recipe – plenty of research and plenty of knowledge – however the best way that’s packaged and delivered to the market may be just a little dry and educational.

On the different finish of the spectrum, you see media-led campaigns, that are extraordinarily good wanting, and very visually artistic, at the least. However you dig slightly and it’s fluffy messaging. I feel nirvana is someplace in between this stuff. We definitely advise our shoppers to get closer to a recipe that combine fodder for the left mind and fodder for the best brain, hitting each side when it comes to artistic and data-led insight, bringing these worlds together.


Concerning the writer:
Chuck Kent is the Chief Conversation Officer at Lead the Conversation, a consultancy that helps busy executives more easily create authentic thought management content material, including videos, articles and podcasts. He is additionally the sometimes songwriter for the man in plaid.