How to Reach the C-Suite via Thought Leadership

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For the last several years, dire warnings of “content material shock” have forged doubt on the continued capability of thought management content – or any type of content material advertising – to deliver results. However new analysis supplies recent encouragement for thought management entrepreneurs, particularly these concentrating on senior-level determination makers.

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

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

Gareth Lofthouse:
There's an terrible lot of content out there in the meanwhile which, at greatest, is fascinating opinion, and not far more than that. At worst, it’s self-serving and quite salesy. Good thought leadership does more than that. It brings unique perception backed by proof, and that’s why you see analysis as an enormous a part of the thought management mix.

Good thought leadership content

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

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

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

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

That came across very strongly. They like opinion, however opinion on its own shouldn't be sufficient. It has to convey one thing else, some proof behind the assertions being made.

However in the event you take these three issues and you then deliver them to life in a means that’s straightforward to eat and fascinating to interact with, there’s a hunger for it.  There’s sufficient happening on the earth, sufficient challenges that these executives are uncertain about, so actual insight that tells them something they don’t know, that helps them remedy their enterprise problems, is effective sufficient for them to interact with.

Different issues we found embrace how long they spend consuming thought management.

  • On common, in this analysis, senior executives are spending four hours consuming totally different forms of thought management content material every week.
Senior executives are spending four hours per week consuming different forms of thought leadership content. Click To Tweet

In the event 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 real power.

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 understand a model to be exceptionally good at thought management, then they are extra more likely to favor that model when it comes to contemplating them for enterprise tenders.

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

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

But the packages that work are those which have a really 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 enterprise sponsor, ideally proper as much as the C-Suite, he or she ought to be saying, “This is our huge guess for the yr, this is something we absolutely have to build our status profile around, and I am 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 places like Davos, at the World Economic Forum, where their senior individuals are up on the podium, referring to the analysis and serving to to determine the corporate’s credentials as the facilitator and the leader of their business on specific points.

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

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

Gareth Lofthouse: 
One of the other issues that we’ve discovered from the research we’ve finished just lately is that it's a must to give your corporation viewers selection.

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

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

Gareth Lofthouse:
We’re predicting fairly a couple of shifts. It’s a very fluid area in cutting-edge practices shifting ahead. 

The primary is, I suppose, a extra agile mannequin for thought leadership. There’s undoubtedly a way that the model as practiced by corporates needs to move on from one thing where you do a undertaking that begins with a really heavy-duty survey. You roll out the content material, then the entire campaign comes alongside. Before you understand it, you’ve sunk 9 months into this venture earlier than there’s even something ready to share out there.

That’s shifting now to having something that’s extra iterative, and perhaps extra of a multi-track course of on the research, so there are tales to tell and insights to share from, say, month two. And we start getting a story on the market and seating the market across the concept. Perhaps that’s more qualitative-based, or more opinion, however you’re also trailing the release of bigger belongings.

With that search for agility, the analysis toolkit is being challenged and expanded, so we ourselves are more and more utilizing issues like social media listening and sentiment-type instruments. It’s taken a while for our cottage business, when you like, to know the way to use those to create strong research output that’s convincing enough for the C-Suite. But I feel that we’re attending to that realm now. It’s much quicker, and it’s far more cost-effective than some of these highly-engineered approaches.

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

Another development is that we’re going to see a coming together, in the event you like, of knowledge plus creativity. In the intervening time, the content campaigns that you simply see out there, the large ones, are major on the normal thought leadership recipe – a lot of analysis and plenty of knowledge – but the best way that’s packaged and delivered to the market may be a bit dry and educational.

At the other end of the spectrum, you see media-led campaigns, that are extraordinarily good wanting, and really visually artistic, no less than. But you dig somewhat and it’s fluffy messaging. I feel nirvana is somewhere in between this stuff. We definitely advise our shoppers to get closer to a recipe that mix fodder for the left brain and fodder for the correct brain, hitting each side when it comes to artistic and data-led perception, bringing these worlds collectively.


Concerning the writer:
Chuck Kent is the Chief Conversation Officer at Lead the Conversation, a consultancy that helps busy executives more easily create genuine thought management content material, together with movies, articles and podcasts. He's also the sometimes songwriter for the person in plaid.