A Thoughtful Approach to Content Marketing: 4 Steps to Creating Thought Leadership

4 min read

The Role of Content Marketing

Thought leadership is an essential marketing component of B2B marketing.  It demonstrates to prospective clients that you understand their business needs and have the necessary capabilities and experience to meet those needs. A recent study conducted by Edelman and LinkedIn found that “88 percent of decision-makers surveyed believe that thought leadership is effective in enhancing their perceptions of an organization —yet only 17 percent of them rate the quality of most of the thought leadership they read as very good or excellent.” This statistic highlights the importance of organizations creating superior thought leadership to engage prospects.

Producing excellent thought leadership isn’t easy. And it can seem overwhelming at first, causing negative flashbacks of writing college papers – increasing the font size and enlarging the margins to get it to the required length. You may even think “I’m not an expert. I’m not a writer.” But the reality is you are the one who knows the most about your customers’ challenges and how your organization can solve them.

So even though it’s not simple, you are the right person for the job and there are proven repeatable approaches you can utilize to create all types of thought leadership materials. Just remember to make sure it addresses the right problem, provides insight, is properly structured, and focuses on the audience not the author.

The Content Development Process

Here at Brown Bag Marketing we use a derivation of the A.I.D.A Model, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action, to create thought leadership content for our clients. These four steps represent the consumer’s cognitive stages during the buying process for a product or service. While this model is typically used in planning a marketing campaign, we have adjusted it to provide a repeatable approach to creating thought leadership, whether it be a blog, white paper, infographic, video or podcast.

Stage 1: The Attention Stage

As the name suggests, the Attention stage begins with grabbing the audiences’ attention. This is where it’s important to specifically define a unique problem that your prospect is facing. Sometimes the problem is obvious and other times you need to make your audience aware of a problem they face. The key is that this is a problem they want solved, not you. If you demonstrate your understanding of their world and their challenges, you will earn the right to have the discussion.

Stage 2: The Interest Stage

This stage is the most important, as you introduce key insights that your audience must believe in to buy your product or service. These are the big ideas that are not about what you want to say, but rather what your audience needs to believe to accept your offering.

Insights are typically your organization’s unique perspectives on the problem or are teachable points of view that change the audience’s  perspective. The more provocative the better. You need to get their attention and be memorable.

Insights may also be answers to implied questions or address expressed objections. Regardless of the type of insight, present each one in a logical order to progress your audience towards the ultimate conclusion that your offering solves their problem.

Stage 3: The Desire Stage

We then reach the Desire Stage, where we can finally talk about how our offering solves the stated problem. Because you’ve approached the conversation from a receiver-oriented perspective with the correct insights, you’re able to naturally position your features and benefits. This also helps to make a smooth transition to asking for their business.

Stage 4: The Action Stage

Lastly, we enter the Action Stage where you ask your audience for a desired behavior or call-to-action. Because of your work in the previous 3 stages, your request does not come off as premature or intrusive. You’ve earned the right to ask for their business.

A Blend of Art and Science

Of course, a process or model only gets you half-way there. It is what you do with it that makes a memorable piece. Brown Bag can make a difference in your content development by pushing you to generate thought provoking insights, fine-tune how you describe your approach to the problem and help you differentiate yourself in a crowded market.

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With more than 17 years of experience in strategy and execution across traditional, digital and social channels, Brown Bag is ready to help you demonstrate your expertise through blogs, white papers, videos and podcasts. Contact us to get started!