By Tom Sandford on May 28, 2020

B2B thought leadership content marketing: customer panels are back

One of the joys of working in a content agency is you get to interview a lot of smart people on behalf of your clients. The common thread of all of our interviews over the past few weeks is this; help me see me what’s coming, help me prepare, help me adapt.


Zoom fatigue is real. Many senior leaders - your target audience - are stuck in management mode. Help them get back to leading with well researched, beautifully produced content. 


From helping to adapting


If we have moved from the ‘helping’ or ‘surviving’ phase to the ‘adapting’ phase, what does this mean for your content plans?


For our clients, it’s meant a shift from providing helpful resources - like The Marketing Centres C-19 resource centre to Hamilton Frasers coronavirus landlord guide - to a more classic thought leadership program. 


The content attracting the highest click through rates, impressions and shares is that which provides guidance on how to prepare for the oncoming recession, how to adapt to changes in consumer demand, or even to demonstrate what those changes are. 


What does phase 2 of lockdown mean for B2B content marketing?


So, if you agree that we’re in a new phase, and you recognise the need to produce more thought leadership content, how do you find out exactly what to create?


Well, my answer to that is painfully simple. Ask your clients. 


We’ve been banging this drum for many years*, and I’m sure you’re in agreement that this is a very sensible approach. But you’ll also recognise that many in business have a fear of asking too many questions of their customers. Whether that comes from a fear of irritating them or a concern about not looking smart enough, I don’t know. What I do know is that, by coming up with a few ideas and running those past a few customers, ideas sharpen and the content we create increasingly urgent, essential and useful.


I would urge you to consider going one step further. A customer panel is an old tool in the thought leadership research arsenal. I think its time has come again. The logistics have reduced - we’re all very familiar with Zoom now - and there is an increased sense of collaboration amongst peers. I’m sure you've seen that, too. 


The really exciting thing about a customer panel is the opportunity to build community and create an ongoing thought leadership campaign. I predict that a quarterly report on how the niche you serve is adapting will knock the socks off most of the business-as-usual blogs your competitors churn out.


My final point is this; whatever you choose to create, do it better. 


I argued at the start of the year that less-is-more when it comes to your content. That has proved to be true despite the turmoil of recent months. We have a case study which I’m hoping to share with you in a few weeks which will add some numbers to this advice. 


If you’re anything like our clients, you will generate more quality leads and new contacts by putting extra effort into one major piece of content - an ebook or pillar page, for example - than you will with a weekly blog. Create something really, really useful, engage your clients in the creative process, make it beautiful in content and style, and it will fly. 


Easy to say, not so easy to do. But the extra effort is well worth it.


I can’t wait to see what you create. 



Image credits: Photo by Patryk Grądys on Unsplash

Published by Tom Sandford May 28, 2020