How to Reach the C-Suite via Thought Leadership

For the final a number of years, dire warnings of “content shock” have solid doubt on the continued capability of thought management content material – or any type of content material advertising – to ship outcomes. But new analysis gives contemporary encouragement for thought management entrepreneurs, particularly these concentrating on senior-level determination makers.

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

First of all, do you draw a distinction between thought management content material and different content material advertising?

Gareth Lofthouse:
There is an terrible lot of content material on the market at the second, which, at greatest, is attention-grabbing opinion and never rather more than that. At worst, it’s self-serving and moderately salesy. Good thought management does greater than that. It   and that’s why you see analysis as an enormous a part of the thought management combine.

Good thought leadership content

The C-Suite has at all times been tough for entrepreneurs to attain, not to mention interact in a significant manner. Does your new analysis determine any promising new paths for getting content material to the nook places of work?

Gareth Lofthouse:
What was actually, actually 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 the sort of content material) is that they worth thought management…offering it’s good.

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

  • It gives new perception
  • It’s related to my downside
  • It’s backed by credible analysis

That got here throughout very strongly. They like opinion, however opinion by itself isn’t sufficient. It has to carry one thing else, some proof behind the assertions being made.

But should you take these three issues and you then carry them to life in a manner that’s simple to devour and attention-grabbing to interact with, there’s a starvation for it.  There’s sufficient happening in the world, sufficient challenges that these executives are unsure about, so precise perception that tells them one thing they don’t know, that helps them resolve their enterprise issues, is effective sufficient for them to interact with.

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

  • On common, on this analysis, senior executives are spending 4 hours consuming totally different types of thought management content material each week.

Senior executives are spending 4 hours per week consuming totally different types of thought management content material. Click To Tweet

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

What did the analysis say about the affect of efficient thought management?

Gareth Lofthouse:
It exhibits that senior executives use it to inform decision-making. For instance, once they understand a model to be exceptionally good at thought management, then they’re extra possible to favor that model when it comes to contemplating them for enterprise tenders.

You’ve checked out how senior folks use and devour content material – however what are your observations on their function in formulating, projecting and leveraging thought management? Do they want 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 day to day.

But the packages that work are the ones which have a really senior enterprise stakeholder or a set of enterprise stakeholders who need to personal the message. They have purchased into the program proper from day one, and their mission is to be the face of the marketing campaign.

And that goes internally. So, if there’s a very senior enterprise sponsor, ideally proper up to the C-Suite, she or he must be saying, “This is our big bet for the year, this is something we absolutely need to build our reputation profile around, and I am going to be out there talking about this.”

For occasion, we’ve labored with a model known as AECOM, which is a frontrunner in the architectural and engineering trade. They use this sort of work at locations like Davos, at the World Economic Forum, the place their senior persons are up on the podium, referring to the analysis and serving to to set up the firm’s credentials as the facilitator and the chief of their trade on explicit points.

That’s if you get an actual pair off, I believe, on content material. It hops from reviews and text-based and even video-based outputs proper into the dialogue of the group, and it will get knitted into the C-Suite dialog.

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

Gareth Lofthouse: 
One of the different issues that we’ve discovered from the analysis we’ve achieved just lately is that you’ve to give your small business viewers alternative.

Lots of individuals desire to devour info nowadays in a video or a podcast. However, there are nonetheless loads of our executives who’re traditionalists, when it comes to their willingness to think about textual content. So, I wouldn’t rule out the worth of longer-form belongings, definitely when it comes to displaying there’s actual substance and credibility. You want that blend of significant examine, extra digestible, snackable content material, and all the pieces in between. This pendulum retains swinging forwards and backwards.

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

Gareth Lofthouse:
We’re predicting fairly just a few shifts. It’s a really fluid area in cutting-edge practices transferring ahead. 

The first is, I suppose, a extra agile mannequin for thought management. There’s positively a way that the mannequin as practiced by corporates wants to transfer on from one thing the place you do a mission that begins with a really heavy-duty survey. You roll out the content material, then the complete marketing campaign comes alongside. Before you understand it, you’ve sunk 9 months into this mission earlier than there’s even something prepared to share in the market.

That’s shifting now to having one thing that’s extra iterative, and possibly extra of a multi-track course of on the analysis, so there are tales to inform and insights to share from, say, month two. And we begin getting a narrative on the market and seating the market round the thought. Maybe that’s extra qualitative-based, or extra opinion, however you’re additionally trailing the launch of larger belongings.

With that seek 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 some time for our cottage trade, should you like, to understand how to use these to create sturdy analysis output that’s convincing sufficient for the C-Suite. But I believe that we’re getting to that realm now. It’s a lot sooner, and it’s rather more cost-effective than a few of these highly-engineered approaches.

I don’t assume we’re going to see the survey disappearing, however I believe it’s being complemented by some way more agile choices. So that’s certainly one of the huge traits, agile.

Another development is that we’re going to see a coming collectively, should you like, of knowledge plus creativity. At the second, the content material campaigns that you just see on the market, the huge ones, are main on the conventional thought management recipe – a lot of analysis and many knowledge – however the manner that’s packaged and introduced to the market could also be just a little dry and educational.

At the different finish of the spectrum, you see media-led campaigns, that are extraordinarily good trying, and really visually inventive, at the very least. But you dig just a little and it’s fluffy messaging. I believe nirvana is someplace in between this stuff. We definitely advise our shoppers to get nearer to a recipe that mix fodder for the left mind and fodder for the proper mind, hitting either side when it comes to inventive and data-led perception, bringing these worlds collectively.


About the creator:
Chuck Kent is the Chief Conversation Officer at Lead the Conversation, a consultancy that helps busy executives extra simply create genuine thought management content material, together with movies, articles and podcasts. He can also be the generally songwriter for the man in plaid.

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