What does good thought leadership look like for companies targeting a niche?

Naomi Hefter B2B Campaigns, B2B Marketing, B2B Storytelling, B2B Strategy

The expression of thought leadership has been around since the late 19th century. Still, in the last ten years, this concept has been acknowledged for its practical and positive impact on people, branding and business.

But what exactly is thought leadership?

To start with, thought leadership can present itself in an array of different names – from opinion makers to leading light, to the connoisseur and even guru. If you have the knowledge, passion and presence to produce content with expertise in your field, you and your business will be seen as a thought leader.

The Oxford Dictionary defines thought leadership as ‘intellectual influence and innovative or pioneering thinking’. With this, it’s essential to recognise this doesn’t mean shoving your salesy business strategy or product into your customer’s face. Thought leadership content may offer knowledge and expertise, but it’s essential to know that a business’s sales approach lands in two different worlds. Thought leaders are not selling their business, but reassuring their audience that they are experts in what they do and how they do it, while providing information and insight that gives the target audience something they didn’t already have.

SEMrush recently discovered that 81.4% of thought leadership content resulted in organic traffic, and 64.9% of businesses saw a boost in social media following and engagement as a result. But how can B2Bs who target a very niche audience do it successfully?

What makes good thought leadership?

We are aware that thought leadership can be seen in many ways. For some, it is about presenting strong and sometimes controversial opinions in a piece of content. Pushing at boundaries is arguably just as, if not more, important than how it’s presented. However, others maintain that thought leadership is about simply being a subject matter expert (SME) and leveraging that position to wield influence within a particular field. But, in essence, it really is a mixture of the two.

A storytelling canvas 

When you are thinking about the most outstanding thought leaders and brand storytellers of all time, which ones come to mind? Coca–cola? Apple? Nike? These grand companies all have one thing in common: they put storytelling at the heart of everything they do.

The importance of emotion

A Harvard Business Review found that emotional connection is a significant driver of thought leadership and brand loyalty, leading to one of the best indicators of customer value. According to this review, 71% of clients are more likely to recommend brands with whom they have an emotional connection.

Thought Leadership for niche markets

Our team spent some time looking at those B2B brands that operate in the sectors that we feel are doing a great job in thought leadership and wanted to share our perspective on the lessons others can learn from their work.

Some examples to inspire you:

Talk directly to your sectors

Mitie, Britain’s strategic outsourcing and energy services company, may have been founded in 1987, but they own a forward-thinking attitude to thought leadership. A particular strength is the generation of frequent articles that talk directly to all the target sectors, for example Corporate Real Estate, in their language about their pain points. This shows a considered approach, supporting sales team conversations and showing constant relevance.

It is accompanied by constant social media content such as this guide, levering their access to industry decision-makers (which shows both credibility and ignites influencers) to provide useful reports, original data and insight to show their reach into the market.

Tell complicated stories clearly

F-Secure Corporation is a global cyber security and privacy company from Finland with a presence in 100+ countries. Their founder, Mikko Hypponen, was named among the 50 most significant people on the web by PC World magazine. He has also been featured in the FP Global 100 Thinkers list for his pioneering thought leadership.

F-Secure is the master at telling complicated stories clearly. For many cyber-security companies, fear is the go-to messaging tone. F-Secure shows it doesn’t need to be this negative – summed up beautifully by this hero video which combines emotional messaging to land an important message.

Provide vital reference points

PwC prides itself on the current and future working world by showcasing diversity as part of its thought leadership. They aim to inspire clients and communities to ensure diversity remains part of everyday culture.

PwC produces many reports, but each are updated continuously. Through the Covid years, their economy reports were vital to our planning, but as well as being useful as singular reports, by providing a trend and being updated continuously, they’ve become vital reference points for many senior leaders.

It is the same reason why many recruitment agencies publish regular salary surveys, competing not just for attention but providing trends.

Planning your own thought leadership?

If you’d like to learn more about our thought leadership experience, you can find out more on our skills page.

Naomi Hefter

Not only does Naomi have 10 years of creative copywriting, she is a published author and ex stand up comedian. A lover of anything from the 70s and 80s, she is convinced she was born in the wrong era.