Thought leadership research gives you insights into how your customers are addressing or adapting to current trends, arming you with the knowledge to position your people and services. Whether you use the research results in a white paper, infographic, webinar or live event, thought leadership research and content establishes your team as experts on the topic.
In this three-part series, we are looking at each of the key elements of successful thought leadership research. In Part 1, we discussed the importance of survey design. In Part 2, we discussed how to look at your results for the most meaningful insights. In this final article, we discuss how to use those insights to their full benefit.
After investing in research, your organization has a much better understanding of the market’s requirements, behaviors and challenges. These insights can help drive the development of more appealing products and services, as well as messages that will resonate with customers and prospects. That’s quite a return on investment.
With thought leadership campaigns, there is even more you can do to achieve a greater return on your research investment. Many Market Connections clients use the key findings to secure press coverage, create exclusive customer and prospect events, develop a new white paper and expand web site content. For example, after conducting a thought leadership project on records management, Iron Mountain developed a robust public relations and marketing campaign that resulted in earned media from key publications and multi-media content. Read this Q&A to see the extent to which they leveraged their results. Management and Monitoring software provider SolarWinds publishes its thought leadership results on SlideShare, which earns the company significant attention from prospects. And like Iron Mountain, it leverages results to the maximum extent (read how in this Q&A). And Vocus used its results to create a myth-busting theme, which the company used at its annual user conference and in live presentations, in advertorials and syndicated content in marketing and PR industry pubs, and for bylined articles by their CMO. All of those generated leads through access to a variety of gated content.
The opportunities are unlimited. The right channels for your business depend on your target audience — a white paper or a slide share, or perhaps a LinkedIn influencer article. However your prospects want to receive information, there is a way to reach them with your research results.
The key to leveraging the results is to focus on educating your readers and refrain from filtering or twisting the results to support a particular position or selling point, which will be transparent and quickly damage your credibility.
We also caution our clients to be discerning about the results they share. Some data points are better for internal business intelligence, while others may not have enough mass appeal to pass the “so what?” test. Even if your survey asks a dozen questions and yields twice as many data points, focus only on those that support your story and position. (You will get good data if you follow the survey design advice in Part 1). Backing your position and message with third-party research results is an ironclad way to increase awareness, build credibility and improve understanding of your solutions and value proposition.