Thought Leadership Services

As content marketing has evolved, working with an agency that offers thought leadership services has become an essential part of many businesses’ B2B content marketing strategy. Thought leadership is the development of the ideas around your brand’s areas of expertise, and if nurtured properly, it can become a foundational piece of your business’s content marketing.

Research from Edelman shows just how essential thought leadership is for businesses. 61 percent of B2B buyers surveyed by Edelman said that thought leadership is more effective than traditional marketing and advertising. And even more critical? 29 percent of C-suite executives surveyed said that their business was producing effective thought leadership.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around thought leadership, but it’s what we do here at Caspian Studios. Our CEO Ian Faison pioneered the serialized framework strategy, an evolution of account-based marketing (ABM) that marries targeted marketing of buyer personas with best practices from the serialized storytelling of the entertainment industry. This article will take a broad look at the necessity of integrating your thought leadership with your broader content marketing strategy – and how hiring an agency for thought leadership services is a worthwhile investment for your business.

Elevating Your Brand with Thought Leadership Services

While there is disagreement around where the term “thought leadership” originated, it has become an integral part of content marketing strategies. But in a world where “thought leadership” is a buzzword that dominates your LinkedIn feed, let’s take a step back to examine what it truly means.

Thought leadership is actually a fairly simple concept: it’s the sharing of expertise – the big ideas that drive businesses and sectors forward. As seen in the research from Edelman, it can be a huge differentiator for your business, but why?

We trust expertise. But creating that trust takes time. Working with an agency that offers thought leadership services might speed up the process a little bit, but more importantly, it will give you and your team the tools to create an effective message. As a marketer, you know 

Logos of brands that use thought leadership services

The Role of a Thought Leadership Agency in Content Creation

Many brands work with outside marketing partners, who provide thought leadership services that a company may not have the resources for, such as graphic design, targeted ad spending, and podcast production. Working with a thought leadership agency is no different! The services these agencies provide can help level up your content marketing, give you insights into marketing thought leadership, and help you best position both your internal thought leaders and your brand for long-term success.

When it comes to content creation, a thought leadership agency can help you in numerous ways:

  • Content development: A thought leadership agency specializes in working with their clients to develop their ideas. This is accomplished through regular interviews with your thought leaders, reviews of your company’s marketing and other materials, and the repurposing of content such as podcasts, white papers, and other materials.
  • Market research and analysis: One of the most critical thought leadership services can occur potential before you even begin creating content! At the beginning of your relationship with a thought leadership agency, they will analyze your brand, audit your past marketing, research your competition. Using this, they can work with you to help your brand shape the pillars of its thought leadership.
  • Ghostwriting: One of the most important thought leadership services is ghostwriting. While ghostwriters will work with thought leaders directly, they will also use podcast interviews, speaking engagements, and other material to craft a compelling, authentic message.
  • Media relations: Some agencies have media relations arms, and they will work to book your thought leaders for interviews with media outlets, along with speaking engagements.
  • Content marketing support: Examples of support including market analysis, ad buying, and the creation of audio-visual assets.
  • Influencer marketing: Thought leadership agencies may have relationships with influencers, and they can connect brands and thought leaders with influencers who can support a brand’s thought leadership, while also offering the opportunity for more visibility.

Crafting Impactful Content for Thought Leadership

If you work with a thought leadership agency, you may hear this joke: The first step of thought leadership? Have thoughts.

It’s an adage that makes you laugh, but it’s also true. Thought leadership is based around ideas, and content development does not happen in a vacuum. No matter how you generate thought leadership – whether it’s working with a thought leadership agency or through an internal initiative – what is most important is providing your thought leaders with the opportunity to have those thoughts, and ensuring that they are always leading with authenticity and quality. Here are a few best practices:

  • Choose a primary medium for publishing. Thought leadership is distributed in a variety of ways, such as podcasts, social media posts, videos, and email newsletters. Choose the most appropriate and authentic medium for your thought leader. If they’re a compelling speaker, video may be the most appropriate. If their work schedule is hectic, written posts are often easier.
  • Plan ahead by creating a content calendar. Work with your marketing team and your thought leadership services provider to create a calendar that can align with your company’s marketing initiatives. This will help you plan ahead, while also creating the best product possible.
  • Turn to your Client Advisory Board (CAB). Your customers are a valuable resource for your business, and their insights about your products and industry.  A Client Advisory Board (CAB) is an excellent resource for learning about new pain points that may exist for your customers, and by keeping your ear to the ground, you can also create forward-thinking thought leadership that addresses new issues in your industry.
  • Aim for quality and authenticity – not conversions. Hear us out here. Thought leadership is a sales tool. But thought leadership is not about sales. Fundamentally, it’s an educational tool – the chance to educate your prospects (and anyone else who comes along) about something important in your field. Take the time to hone and develop your ideas.
  • Schedule time to work. This may be the simplest piece of advice we have, but it’s also the most important. Thought leadership is a long-term investment, and when more critical items are on the agenda, it’s easy to set the thoughts aside for another day. But commit to a regular schedule for creating your content. It may be recording a podcast episode, writing a blog post, or being interviewed by a ghost writer. As with any skill, repetition counts – for both you and the agency providing your thought leadership services.

Content Marketing and Thought Leadership: A Synergistic Approach

Content marketing and thought leadership are often conflated with each other. And it’s easy to see why, as the two work hand-in-hand to bolster a brand’s marketing initiatives.

However, the two serve different purposes. Content marketing is the content your business creates that engages with your customer at various stages of the funnel. It can provide direct information about your company’s products, services, and ideas. It’s published at a regular cadence on a variety of channels, and its ultimate goal is conversion.

As discussed above, thought leadership is different. While it can be used as a sales tool in your content marketing, what’s most important is establishing authority and expertise – in other words, quality over quantity.

Executive at a desk working on thought leadership content

Leveraging Podcasts in Account-Based Marketing (ABM): A Thought Leadership Perspective

The thought leadership services your business uses will help you establish trust and authority. But marketing thought leadership to your target personas is just as important. Research from Hubspot shows that 96 percent of buyers conduct their own research before they even begin the process of reaching out to a sales rep.

One of the most effective means of marketing thought leadership is by employing an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. ABM is a strategic approach to B2B marketing where sales and marketing teams using data and marketing tools to work together to target, engage, and convert a specific set of high-value accounts. When using an ABM strategy, your marketing is tailored and personalized to the needs of specific accounts, rather than casting a wide net that tries to catch as many fish as possible.

In order to convert these accounts, teams need to consider the needs of every buyer persona. What problems are they looking to solve? What are the pain points they experience? Where might your team encounter resistance during the sales process?  Once you’ve answered these questions, you can work to tailor your thought leadership content towards each persona. 

One of the most effective ways of reaching your personas is by creating a podcast series that targets a specific persona. These series don’t have to just be audio-only; many podcasts now have a video component. Here are a few examples, featuring some Caspian Studios clients. As you can see, each example has multiple series, which allows them to target their personas and provide thought leadership that meets the needs of their prospective accounts:

For more information on content marketing for ABM, check out our ebook, The Serialized Content Framework.

Influencer Marketing Meets Thought Leadership

Many thought leadership agencies also offer influencer marketing services, connecting brands and thought leaders with influencers that are aligned with a brand’s values and message.

Even though influencer marketing and thought leadership are two different things, they also share some of the same guiding principles. Similar to thought leadership, influencer marketing is based around an audience’s relationship with an individual. Though influencers are, by their nature, promotional, they also lead with authenticity, just as thought leaders do.  Partnering with an influencer is one of the most effective tactics an agency offering thought leadership services can provide.

This reliance and authenticity and audience connection brings us back to ABM principles. Just as ABM is concerned with targeting specific personas, the same is true of influencers. An influencer with a broad reach may not be the best fit for an influencer marketing program – the larger their audience, the more varied it is. 

Instead, build a strong influencer marketing campaign by targeting micro-influencers. Micro-influencers can have as few as 5,000 followers on their social media accounts, but their audience is engaged, informed, and loyal. Consider partnering with a micro-influencer and having them on your podcast or creating a series of videos with them. There are numerous options for partnerships, and be sure to find one that takes advantage of the mediums both your thought leader and your influencer marketing partner work best in. As an example, we cast Dave Ogleton, aka FitDadCEO, in Murder in HR, leveraging his presence to amplify our client Gympass’s thought leadership on personal wellness.

Caspian Studios logo

Why Choose Caspian Studios for Your Thought Leadership Needs?

The typical thought leadership agency only offers a specialized suite of services such as coaching, podcast and video production, or influencer marketing. However, Caspian Studios takes a different approach with our thought leadership services. We consolidate our services all under one roof, from the very inception of the show to creating repurposable content for your content marketing. Every step of the process – from host coaching to video editing to graphic design – is performed in-house at Caspian Studios, creating a smoother experience and eliminating the silos often encountered when working with outside partners.

“Caspian has helped to launch and grow our company and CEO as a thought leader in not just our industry, but in the global technology community. “We’re now a thought leader in the global tech community, thanks to Caspian.” – Talo Thomson, Head of Content & Customer Marketing, Alation 

"The podcast is our best content, best thought leadership content, and top-of-funnel content that we currently put out to the universe." – Amanda Berry, Corporate Communications Manager, Simplrr

Our newest thought leadership services offering, Executive Thought Leadership Video-as-a-Service, is a pioneering effort in content development. Each month, a member of our award-winning team sits down with your business’s executive thought leader and interviews them about areas in their field. The final product is a series of four videos per month that the Caspian Studios team creates for your business to share across its channels. By committing to a regular interview and publishing cadence, we give your executive the chance to develop their ideas in a guided and structured environment that we believe creates the best thought leadership – and gives your content marketing team the material they need to help your business grow. For more information, explore Caspian's Executive Thought Leadership Video-as-a-Service.

Writer at his desk in a hip office