More Impact than
Perspectives from B2B Leaders
Humanizing Your B2B Brand Via Thought Leadership
Jessica Jensen, Global Director of Marketing, Qualcomm
Building brand trust doesn’t apply only to B2C marketing; it also plays an important role in B2B efforts. In fact, in the 2019 Edelman B2B LinkedIn Thought Leadership Impact Study, 82 percent of decision-makers said thought leadership being shared by someone they know and respect is a critical factor in getting them to engage.
Jessica Jensen at Qualcomm is using thought leadership to drive visibility for key executives, while building trust and also humanizing the brand. Read more to find out how she leverages thought leadership to engage with audiences on a more personal level.
Q: What role does thought leadership play in your communications/marketing program? Why is it important?
Thought leadership is critical to our marketing efforts, particularly from an executive visibility perspective. Obviously, we as a brand can share points of view from corporate – on everything from social and economic changes to global tech updates. But a brand’s point of view is more interesting, feels more human and is more compelling when it comes directly from the mouth of a leader.
The more brands can present their executives with authenticity on key channels, the more they can build the brand in a more human way. As part of our thought leadership efforts to humanize the Qualcomm brand, we did a series of videos for Raj Talluri, SVP of IoT, where he talks about his love and passion for photography. These weren't intended to be a sales tool – they were intended to bring Raj’s personality to life through his social channels and, in turn, create connections on a more human level.
Q: How do you share and distribute content? How do you ensure the right content is connecting with the right prospects and customers in the right moments?
According to our data, thought leadership has the healthies engagement rate via blog posts, native social content or perhaps video – so our strategy right now is focused on Twitter and LinkedIn. We are monitoring what to post, where and when. Twitter is where we see a lot of tech journalists, analysts and OEM partners. It’s also where we do a lot of events-based marketing. For a while, we were thinking of LinkedIn as only long form, but not anymore – we’re finding that people want snackable content no matter the platform. We’re seeing that determining what content to post where is a bit more complicated than it was five years ago, particularly with organic social, as you have very little control over visibility unless you put paid behind it. We’re also digging into email across the organization, as it provides more control, accuracy and dependability. Email is also making a comeback to extend beyond organic social media reach.
Q: What gets you excited about thought leadership in B2B?
Thought leadership isn't a standalone effort; it's woven into campaigns and is one channel among a portfolio. One of the reasons I'm a believer is that thought leadership feels inherently more personal than corporate. Because we are inundated with so much content and so many options across so many channels, influencer marketing is bubbling up to help brands break through. We’re going to see a rise in human-centric storytelling because real people help brands break through the clutter.
To hear more, listen to Jessica’s podcast:
Empowering Customers With “Utility Content”
John Bell, VP, Enterprise Digital Marketing, Travelers
When it comes to thought leadership, John Bell, VP of Enterprise Digital Marketing at Travelers, thinks beyond product claims and self-promotion. He and his team meet customers where they are by creating what he calls “utility content,” with the goal of educating and empowering them to solve business challenges.
In the 2019 Edelman LinkedIn Thought Leadership Impact Study, 66 percent of decision-makers surveyed said whether a topic is relevant to what they are currently working on is one of the most critical factors in getting them to engage.
Read more to learn more about how John and his team ensure relevance by sourcing ideas to create utility content that is visible, timely and empowering.
Q: What role does thought leadership play in your communications marketing program? Why is it important?
We genuinely want to help our business customers keep their workforce safer, avoid unnecessary risks and succeed in their business. Data-driven, content-rich marketing is the heart of how we engage customers, prospects and our independent insurance agents. We design and deliver different content for specific moments along the buyer journey. Much of that content is designed to improve consideration or preference – some to drive actual demand. A lot of it can be considered “thought leadership” and all of it is designed to help them solve real challenges they may face.
Specifically, the content we create to help business customers manage risk aims to be of use to those folks. We call that utility content, as it aims to empower – help them actually get something done that is important to them. Then there is more traditional “thought leadership” content, which is meant to share a POV on a topic and expose readers to the way we think.
Q. What data and/or research and insights do you use to source content ideas?
Content ideas come from the customer and from our business. Clearly, we understand our business focus – what industries, products and solutions we need to focus on. Walking the walk of becoming increasingly customer-focused and data-driven means we are mining more sources today for content that matters to people. Beyond traditional first- and second-party research, we are constantly mining search and social data for the answers our customers seek. The performance data on our existing content tells us a lot about what topics are most in demand. We also quiz our field staff and look for any opportunity to get closer to our customers.
Q: What specific thought leadership campaigns have been most successful and why?
We wanted to help our business customers understand and see solutions for big business issues like the opioid crisis and its impact on the workforce, how extreme weather is putting more pressure on business, and how cyber risks require as much prep pre-breach as they do post-breach. We created a series of three two-minute videos shared online via LinkedIn and other social channels. Each set up the business challenge and a way to look at the solution. It also gave readers exposure to how we think of these big challenges and how we dig into hard business problems to find solutions.
Rather than a heavy sales pitch on our insurance solutions, we designed this campaign around solving real business problems. The videos work hard by themselves and connect back to broader utility content from our risk specialists who help customers and prospects take positive steps to protect their business and their people. A targeted, paid program on LinkedIn, other social networks and native networks effectively found our very particular audience and drove high 50%+ video views. It’s a great example of some of our most engaging content.
Links to videos:
Co-Creating the Future With Thought Leadership
Katica Roy, CEO, Pipeline Equity
B2B decision-makers want to know where their industry is going. In fact, in the 2019 Edelman B2B LinkedIn Thought Leadership Impact Study, almost nine in 10 decision-makers reported that they believe it’s important for companies to lay out a vision for the future.
Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline Equity, believes thought leadership has the opportunity to create a community – and conversations – that are focused on the future: “Thought leadership matters because purchasers aren’t only buying a product or service; they’re looking for expertise, insights and personal connection.”
Roy also believes that layering qualitative analysis on top of data gives B2B marketers an opportunity to recognize the full impact of thought leadership on customers and prospects.
Read on to learn more about Pipeline Equity’s view on co-creating the future with your customers through thought leadership.
Q: How are modern marketers ensuring that their content is connecting with the right prospects and customers in the right moments?
Community matters to modern marketers – which means providing content and an avenue for prospects to build community and be part of something bigger than themselves. The key is both inspiration and inclusion. It's a two-way conversation that ensures prospects and customers are part of the dialogue and provides them value to lift up their brands.
Q: What are the qualities and characteristics of some of the best thought leadership efforts you have seen?
Some of the best thought leadership I’ve seen includes not only facts and data, but an analysis of what the data means, why it matters and what to do about it. Driving insights and actions through thought leadership matters – and it lifts everyone up, but not in a blindly optimistic way. Instead, it acknowledges that there's a problem, it's solvable and here's how WE solve it – together.
Q: How are marketers measuring the effectiveness of thought leadership/content today? How do you see that evolving?
Certainly, performance-based marketing matters, along with ensuring you know the thread of measurement throughout your marketing efforts. However, it's not purely about the numbers; they’re table stakes. Layered on top of the numbers are how you make people feel, how you provide a message that enables them to not only to be part of the solution, and, more importantly, the heroes of their own stories. Everyone has a story and new application: Make them the heroes and then focus on the collective.
Source: 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study.