b2b thought leadershipThe legendary Swiss Army Knife is still considered by many as the ultimate DIY toolkit. In fact, it is probably easier to list the things that the SwissTool RS can’t do than the things it can. Here’s how the company describes it – “This versatile knife is equipped to handle any number of tasks and is spring loaded to open quickly when needed, making it ideal for emergency situations.” This ‘King of all Tools’ has 24 tools built into it. And you don’t have to be a DIY star or the neighborhood handyman to love it. I travel extensively—from the wine cellars in France, to following the Inca Trail up a mountain in Peru, to walking with lions in Casela Park, Mauritius—I go many places around the world. My Swiss Army Knife goes with me.

But since we are on the subject of a content-driven strategy for thought leadership, let me get back on track. What tools do you need to establish and maintain your position as a thought leader in the B2B community?

Here Are 24 Essential Tools for the B2B Thought Leader

Today’s B2B buyers are constantly bombarded with content. And the more that gets thrown at them, the more averse they get to the “same old, same old”. The only way you can remain in favour, and in fact, be sought after is by providing incredible value, sharing your expertise, and delivering outstanding insights. How do you do that? The first thing to do is to put yourself in the audience’s shoes. You should exhibit the qualities that you wish to find in those that you deal with. Your content – whether verbal, visual or written – should reflect those skills, ethics, and traits. And you cannot do this without listening carefully to your audience. Listen and gather clues to create meaningful content that positions you firmly as a thought leader in the B2B community.

These 24 …ITY words are your Swiss Army Knife – pull it all together and you are on your way to successful and enviable B2B thought leadership.

Let us begin with AUTHORITY(1) You cannot buy authority, but without it, your valiant attempts to be recognized as a thought leader will fail. To demonstrate your authority and CREDIBILITY(2), not only will you need evidence of your achievements but you also need to earn the trust and respect of your peers and your target audience.

You should act with INTEGRITY(3) and PROBITY(4) at all times, as well as HUMILITY(5) – aim to provide high value benefits to those giving their time to consume your content. Assist the audience to be as successful as you are, without seeming arrogant.

No thought leader in the B2B space can afford to sacrifice QUALITY(6) of content. A vital part of your strategy is to ensure that you are producing high-quality and unique content that is of interest to your target audience. Understand your audience, your competition, the gaps in your segment, and think primarily as your audience so that your content satisfies their needs, not simply your own. Create an editorial schedule to plan ahead, but also have FLEXIBILITY(7) to react to a dramatic and sudden trend, breaking news, etc.

Thought leaders know their facts. Check the VERACITY(8) of all that you write, and back it up with research, evidence, data and credible sources. In this digital age, any mistakes you make, however unintentional, will be pointed out by those in the know. Or those who have a search engine nearby—anyone who doesn’t??!!

Write with CLARITY(9) and PERSPICUITY(1)0. There is nothing worse than a collection of jumbled thoughts where the insights are lost in a haze of misspellings, poor grammar, and badly planned paragraphs. Know your key messages before you begin and help READABILITY(11) with the right tone and by illustrating all new ideas clearly. Your audience may not know what you do or how you can help them. It is your RESPONSIBILITY(12) as a thought leader to help others understand and to progress.

Your audience also desires DIVERSITY(13). Look beyond articles, blog posts, white papers, e-books, newsletters, and reports, to slides, video, podcasts, events, Infographics, webinars, and social media.

You cannot be a thought leader from the back benches. No OBSCURITY(14) for you, you need VISIBILITY(15). This means being proactive online with social media and not forgetting to optimize your content for the search engines too. Do not ignore any OPPORTUNITY(16) presented to you offline either, be it an event, conference, exhibition, networking event, or just the chance to place your business card somewhere new—where your customers and prospects are likely to see it.

In 2014, you will need to increase the QUANTITY(17) of content you output. 73% of B2B content marketers said they are creating more content than last year, so you need to keep pace. In addition, budgets for content marketing are constantly on the rise, so do not get left behind by skimping on your resources.

Establishing your PERSONALITY(18) and IDENTITY(19) will help others in the B2B community relate to you. We all make snap judgements on how we perceive people when we meet, so you need to be as likeable as possible, while maintaining that aura of authority. GENIALITY(20) will help your content to stand out from the often dry and staid B2B content that is out there. And you can even inject a little JOCULARITY(21) from time to time to lighten the tone.

And finally, let us pull out the most sought-after tools in our multi-utility kit—CREATIVITY(22) and QUOTABILITY(23). Think out of the box, present information in new and exciting ways that stimulate the desire to learn more from you and inspire the reader. Be quotable – short, snappy, memorable phrases that sum up an insight or demonstrate your understanding of the needs of your audience that can be easily shared. This is the only way to ensure that your reach and POPULARITY(24) as a thought leader can continue to grow.

Do you have more ideas on how to establish B2B thought leadership through content? Please add to the toolkit! I look forward to hearing from you – please leave me a comment.

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