Don’t Call Yourself a Thought Leader; You Have to Earn It

I’m not a huge fan of the term “thought leader”, but it does provide useful context for technology marketers trying to reach IT buyers. Thought leadership is a critical component of any content marketing strategy, because demonstrating expertise on a topic is a critical step in building credibility and trust with prospective customers.

I would not advise any marketer to promote themselves or their organization as a thought leader. But there are many ways you can earn the distinction by showcasing your expertise through content marketing. Here are two methods that work particularly well with the tech audience.

1. Align with a trusted, independent brand

Technology content sites are the single most important channel to help IT decision-makers enhance their knowledge to be effective in their role, according to IDG’s annual Role & Influence study. This reality has fed the explosive growth of native advertising, in which marketers can align themselves with a trusted editorial brand to get their ideas and insights in front of their target audience.

At IDG, our native advertising product portfolio has evolved to reflect the importance of this tactic as part of a broader content marketing strategy. Our BrandPost program is designed to give marketers a direct voice to IT buyers on our editorial sites to increase awareness and establish a foundation to build authority and credibility.

Now, we’re extending our native solution to help tech marketers create deeper engagement with IT buyers. Our new Native Playlist, for example, is a brand-to-demand offering that packages a collection of content assets into a linear narrative to support a vendor’s brand message.

The goal of the Playlist is to help the IT buyer learn about an emerging technology category – beginning with trends or challenges and ending with the solutions to address those challenges. The Playlist can include a mix of IDG editorial content, custom content, and existing vendor assets, carefully curated to provide a multi-touch experience for IT buyers looking to “get smart” about a topic.

IT decision makers download an average of five assets during the purchase process, according to the Role & Influence study. A Playlist gives tech vendors an opportunity to guide IT buyers toward their solutions via an engaging, informative narrative.

2. Join more conversations

IT buyers are more than willing to engage with tech vendors – on their own terms. That means fewer sales pitches and more informed conversations. The good news for tech marketers is that their organization is brimming with experts who possess deep technical knowledge and insights that IT professionals would welcome – in the right context.

IDG has a long history of facilitating meaningful connections between technology buyers and sellers. We’re expanding those opportunities with product offerings that span the digital and physical worlds:

Our new CIO ThinkTank event literally gives vendors a seat at the table with CIOs. This invitation-only event assembles an elite group of hand-selected technology and business leaders, along with editors and analysts, to discuss emerging technology and its impact on business.

On the digital front, our enhanced Twitter Chats bring together a diverse collection of IT professionals who participate in a free-flowing, one-hour discussion on a trending topic. Sponsorship of the IDG TechTalk chats allow a vendor to gain mindshare around the event and have their own experts participate, sharing insights and advice in an informal yet engaging social setting.

Native programs, face-to-face events, and social participation are three tactics that help marketers establish their brands as thought leaders. The ability to build relationships with IT buyers, rather than simply pitch to them, is a critical factor in the success of the modern technology marketer.

Stalk me on Twitter @roboregan.


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2017 IDG Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker Survey
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