No flippancy intended but a thought leadership campaign requires some thought. Part of what makes the work exciting is that we must be innovative.
For some of our clients, the endgame in thought leadership activity is getting the audience to sign on the dotted line and become customers. For others it is more a question of being seen and heard in their particular world. Most often it is a combination of both.
Whatever the motive, audiences will engage with your campaign in different ways depending on their demographic profile, location, even culture. Is it to be mobile or desktop? long form or short form? words or infographics? or both?
Keeping up with changing audience preferences
Research shows that the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on thought leadership consumption through 2020 and beyond. Fewer people were commuting, the world became virtual, and competition for online attention was fierce. Consumption on mobile devices continued to rise, especially for the younger demographic. And the ever-evolving array of content delivery platforms and technology presented new opportunities as well as challenges.
However, overall consumption of thought leadership is up. According to Grist’s The value of B2B thought leadership survey 2020, 45% of respondents said that they were ‘consuming a little or a lot more thought leadership than previously’ (compared to 28% ‘about the same’ and 27% ‘a little less’ and ‘much less’).
So how can you get ahead of the competition and capture new and growing audiences for your thought leadership?
One way is to create more visual content from your campaign and more varied formats.
Why you should create multiple thought leadership campaign assets
In a nutshell, what works for one audience may not work for another. For example, some audiences may prefer to watch a short video to introduce them to your content. Others may be interested in reading an executive summary or scanning an infographic.
By providing multiple thought leadership campaign assets in various formats you can tailor the presentation of your content to a specific audience. This could be the difference between a prospect clicking through to your research or scrolling on by.
You can also distribute the most appropriate type of content to the best platform for your audience sectors. This in turn allows your audience to choose how they digest the information in the way that best suits them.
Ideally, you want your audience to navigate to a central piece of content – a report or interactive hub – so they can immerse themselves in your subject and materials. That central content should give top-level insights and key takeaways backed up with full datasets and long-form content for people to explore.
Once there you can ensure that they take the actions that you want them to, be it getting in touch for more information or sharing the content.
The key to getting them to that central piece of content is a multi-format approach using thought leadership campaign assets.
Thought leadership campaign assets: Your starting point
So, as far as assets are concerned, we do not adopt a one-size-fits-all policy. As we have said, by providing content in multiple formats you are allowing your audience to choose how they digest the information you are giving them. Assets can include:
- Long-form reports
- Short-form articles
- Mini graphics
- Key facts
- Slide shares
Your profiling at the start of the campaign should give you the steer on where your audience hangs out and what content assets they engage with on social channels. Use that knowledge as a launchpad.
It is worth considering that consumption of thought leadership on mobile devices is growing rapidly, particularly with the younger end of your audience spectrum so using microcontent to give plenty of points of entry is wise.
These smaller formats are great for audiences who like to read or view on the move, on mobile devices or in a small amount of time, so make sure they are viewable on small screens and the file sizes are download-friendly.
Infographics are a super-useful content asset because not only do they summarise top-level findings in an easy-to-digest, visual and shareable way, they can also be split down, animated, repurposed, turned into slide-shares, pdfs, social posts and more.
They have the advantage of being cost-effective as you can economically turn a lot of the design into a multitude of different assets for social and for the central piece of work. (Read more about how to create a ‘good’ infographic.)
Similarly, videos, podcasts and animation make for easy listening and watching. In this case, the cost-effectiveness is over the longer term. The investment and work come up front but, if you make sure scripts and discussion do not date, their value is for the long-term.
Once your audience is interested, be sure to provide them with plenty of larger multi-format information to explore. These can include long-form reports, interactive datasets, mini articles, case studies and key fact sheets.
Whatever the asset you use, there will be lessons to learn on effectiveness. For example, try different types of content on social media – long-form, image, animation or video, podcasts, interview, snapshots – and then record and analyse the results. Then ask yourself, what works for which audience type? at what time of day? on what platform?
And finally, make sure you put in place data capture and follow-up procedures so that you can use the knowledge in the future.
A thought leadership campaign is not to be undertaken lightly. To get the most out of your promotion carry out your research before you even begin your project. REALLY get to know your audience, who they are, what they like, what they need and what they’ll respond to.
A good thought leadership design company will be able to offer you real value for money by repurposing design assets into different formats. They’ll also be able to advise you on the best formats depending on the purpose, distribution channel, and audience type.
If you would like to speak with us about creating a suite of multi-format thought leadership campaign assets we’d be happy to chat. Give us a call on +44 (0)1606 276176 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.