Establishing thought leadership is key to great content marketing in the tech industry. But is there an easy way to make your brand stand out from the pack?
Thought leadership is an essential component of great B2B content marketing in the tech industry. In an age of public cloud services, disruptive SaaS startups and the blurring of the lines between consumer and business tech, it can be tough for a traditional provider to stand out from the pack on the basis of things like cost, perceived value and convenience. When it comes to showing off the depth of their knowledge and expertise, however, there’s still a key opportunity for them to be bigger, bolder and better than their peers.
The trouble is, establishing thought leadership through content marketing is easier said than done. For one thing, the process of creating authoritative and engaging content on a day-to-day basis will put any marketing team through its paces. And, even if they have the skills and resources to succeed, there’s the risk that stresses and tensions with other teams – who may be all-important sources of knowledge and expertise – will weaken and undermine their ability to deliver on this vision.
Luckily, quick wins aren’t impossible. While turning your tech brand into an established thought leader takes time, particularly without the benefit of a household name or the born-in-the-cloud credentials of a SaaS startup, there are still easy steps you can take to start building that credibility. Here are a few examples:
1. Create the right kind of content
A lot of brands fall into the trap of creating thought leadership content that’s either far too technical, or far too woolly and blue-sky, to be of any real value to their target audience. Their blog posts and whitepapers do a good job of sounding smart (and may or may not be genuinely insightful), but achieve little else.
In reality, the best kind of thought leadership content is often the kind that simply expresses the answer to a complex question in an easy-to-follow, workmanlike way. If you can say one thing and say it well, in a way that leaves a lasting impression on your readers, you’ll already have done a better job than many other would-be thought leaders.
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2. Identify and use great internal resources
Obviously, turning your tech brand into a thought leader isn’t a job for your marketing team alone. You’re also going to need to tap into the knowledge and expertise of other people in your business – salespeople, product managers, consultants and so on.
All of these people should ideally be bought into your marketing goals and empowered to make a contribution to your thought leadership efforts, whether that means taking part in webinars or simply lending their bylines to your blog posts. And don’t rely entirely on your most senior team members as a source of expert insight – seek out anyone with a fresh perspective or a knack for storytelling, and you’ll find your content marketing rapidly builds momentum.
3. Use external resources, too
Of course, it’s a mistake to act like your brand alone is a bastion of thought leadership in the tech industry. Bringing in outside experts for guest blogs or interviews is easy to do, and it’ll show your prospects that you have an attractive knowledge network and share a mutual appreciation with some of the other thought leaders in your field.
The tech industry is built on ecosystems, and this collaborative approach to marketing is already common in some areas – think of the sharing of resources between software vendors and their channel partners, for example. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be a key part of your thought leadership efforts, too.
4. Engage with the industry
Engaging critically with the tech market and industry goings-on will also help you build credibility as a thought leader. A lot of tech brands consider it anathema to give airtime to would-be competitors by sharing third-party content or talking about what the big household names are doing, but this makes little sense when your buyer journey weighs so heavily on online research. Aim to establish authority in your market segment - don’t just ignore it!
5. Do more with social media
Finally, social media offers a lot of low-hanging fruit when it comes to turning your tech brand into a thought leader. If your resident experts are going to be connecting with prospects on LinkedIn, for example, they (or a team working on their behalf) should use their accounts to share relevant links and content, get involved in group discussions, and keep a finger on the pulse of their customers’ industries.
Great thought leadership will prompt valuable conversations on social media. You shouldn’t just participate in these conversations, but sustain and nurture them, too. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn about your prospects and their problems, and – if nothing else – how easily you find the perfect topic for your next blog post.
Want to learn more about using thought leadership to build the credibility of your tech brand in today’s competitive environment? Our new free guide, How to market and sell a cloud service, may be able to help.