Thought Leadership Marketing Sells Itself

There’s nothing worse than being heckled by a salesman when you have no interest in the product.

In the same way pushy marketing, especially from an unknown source, is not going to generate the type of traffic you want your business to have.

On episode 15 of the Hawke Media podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Heather Taylor, Director of Creative Strategy for North America at The Economist. Heather creates RSPs to figure out the best content programs for a desired audience.

The Economist was founded in 1843, and since then, they have become the go-to authority on our economy and the numerous factors that affect it. Heather tries to use a mix of events and media to reach The Economist’s audience in creative ways that invite the consumer in, rather than dragging them in by their shirt tails.

Through thought leadership marketing, regardless of the type and size of your target audience, you create relevant content that sets your business apart to other businesses, clients, potential employees, etc. By creating content that resonates with your audience, you start to become a trusted authority in your field.

With the influx of technology and social media, every company has to make conscious shifts to stay culturally relevant and visible. The Economist stayed relevant by maintaining a strong emphasis on research, and they’re using technology, media, and events to broaden their reach to the business world in the most effective way.

Effective marketing is about bridging the gap between what your audience reads and consumes, and then bringing that into the client’s world in practical, welcomed ways.

What does your audience need from you that goes past their normal line of thinking? What differentiates you to clients so you can be looked at as the trusted brand or voice in your field?

Credible, relevant content that interests your audience will set your business apart and engage your audience through practicality—not over-eagerness to sell a product or idea.


Engage Your Audience

There are lots of different marketing techniques that are “no-brainers” for people who simply want to put content out, such as social media, social networks, and digital hyper-targeting.

But it really comes down to learning how to engage with and be visible to the people you want to reach in a way that they want to be reached. No one likes aggressive marketing that feels forced.

You have to build the right content for your intended audience.

How can you put your content in people’s path in a way that makes them want to consume it?

Brand advertising is a great place to start! But effective B2B marketing doesn’t just try to sell a brand, it adds a mix of content to connect your brand name with content that truly interests your intended audience.

The key to effectively reaching your audience? Thoughtful marketing + valuable content.

Prompt engagement with your clients by giving them valuable content. Whether you give your content value through a unique study or something interesting that no one else is doing, find opportunities to use creativity to best reach your audience.

The Problem

The business world is yearning for content about good leadership, creativity, effective listening, and other concepts that apply to them day-to-day as they seek to grow their businesses.

Unfortunately, when we look at marketers, most are trying to connect their content directly to a product or service instead of creating quality content that stands firmly on its own.

Businesses are looking for content that promotes big ideas, while marketers are trying to attract you to a product.

In a study The Economist did last year called Missing The Mark, researchers found that 93% of marketers are connecting their marketing directly to a product or service, while 75% of the businesses said they wanted something different. Clearly, we’re still struggling to solve this problem.

Oftentimes, the content that businesses are putting out comes off as far too self-serving.

Unless you already have a following that sees your business as the most credible source in your field, you have to build trust with your clients. Honestly, no one really wants to hear you explain why you think you’re the best at whatever you do if they don’t know you!

If your clients don’t know your business, they aren’t going to put trust in your content.

How do we explain ideas around digital marketing in a way that provides thought leadership without coming off as “salesy?” Instead of pushing a product, we have to create content that engages our clients in a way that is welcomed and sought after.


Every Business is Different

Your marketing should ultimately be saying, “Look at this! Here’s why this is important. Here’s how this information will help you. Here’s some proof to back it up. Here’s how you can be most successful and productive by using this information.”

For instance, if you work in real estate, it would be great to create a map that shows the distance to the center of the city from various neighborhood options.

By creating this type of map, you aren’t only giving people geographical information about their city, you’re providing a completely new way of seeing the city in a way that makes them say, “I’ve never looked at it this way before.”

This should ultimately be your goal.

Determine what you want to achieve, whom you want to reach, and what you want them to do.


If you don’t understand how to best reach your audience, you won’t have an impact.

Your marketing strategy for a small business should look different than that of a huge corporation. A big website that needs hundreds of thousands of views per day is going to use different strategies than a business who needs to directly engage with 50 important potential clients.

In almost all cases, quality content will trump the quantity of your content.

You don’t have to bombard clients with emails and offers to get your point across. Instead, start creating content that tells your consumers what they need to hear. Help them make strides to become the best they can be, and focus on being a credible, trusted source of information with every piece of content you publish.

This episode is based on an interview with Heather Taylor  from The Economist. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Hawke Media Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.


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