B2B Thought Leadership 2.0

Managing Expectation …

While we often like to separate the concepts of management and leadership, thought leaders do have to manage their leadership communications. This is especially true on the web and with Thought Leadership 2.0. That are several factors that those aspiring to Thought Leadership 2.0 in their Business to Business (B2B) marketing need to keep in mind.

“Your audience’s opinions abut your content depends largely on their expectations, but few B2B marketers think about managing expectations around their content marketing.

For a few years, the Honda Jazz (Honda Fit in the US) topped the JD Power customer satisfaction survey. But very few people, not even its most enthusiastic owners, would go so far as to say that the Jazz was the best car on the market.

Instead, the Jazz earned its top rating because it was the car that most exceeded its owners’ expectations. People who buy the Jazz don’t expect it to be sporty or luxurious or elegant. They expect it to be functional and good value.

In fact, it’s just a little bit better on almost every measure than most buyers would expect it to be. The Jazz succeeded in getting people to expect less, and then it delivered more.

That’s a recipe for success in B2B content marketing, too. Get it right and you’ll earn a reputation as a producer of top-quality content. Get it wrong and you’ll find your audiences dwindling and your content brand losing its mojo.

So one of the most important dimensions in content marketing is the art of managing expectations: making sure that your audience knows exactly what it’s getting before they download that eBook or watch that video.

The idea is simple. You need to think about the person the content is aimed at (am I breaking some kind of B2B law in not referring to this as a ‘persona’?); then you have to do two things:

Signal to your target audience that this content is for them.

Signal to everyone else that it isn’t

The first is pretty obvious. If it’s a best-practice guide for web designers, make sure it doesn’t look and sound like a strategist’s vision piece.

The second is a little less intuitive but just as important. As a marketer, your instinct tells you to get the largest possible audience for each piece of content. More downloads means more pats on more backs. Resist that instinct. Attracting the wrong readers will work against you in the long run (and probably even in the short and medium runs too).

As content marketing gets more sophisticated and granular, we’re all busy ‘mapping’ our content to stages of the ‘purchase journey’ (ever get caught using marketing jargon in a civilian dinner party? Embarrasing or what?). That means your content will become more and more targeted along dimensions like buying stages, job titles, levels of experience, geographies and customer relationship status.

And these are precisely the dimensions you need to manage expectations around. If a piece is for techies, don’t sing your dirty little siren song towards CEOs (you’ll only frighten them). If it’s for owners of small businesses, don’t push it at IT people (if anything alienates an IT person more than lightwweight marketing-speak it’s lightweight marketing-speak masquerading as data).

If you manage expetations effectively, your chances of delighting your audience will multiply by as much as four to six times (feel free to quote that statistic, just don’t mention the fact that I made it up).

And if you fail to manage expectations, your chances of pissing people, and personas, off will increase too. (And none of us wants angry personas wandering around the web shaking their little virtual fists.) 

So how do you manage expectations? Your tools here are limited but important: …” Managing your Thought Leadership 2.0 in the B2B environment.

Meeting customer expectations in the online environment (even if the customer is another business) is a vital component of establishing your thought leadership in the 2.0 environment.

Rick Hubbard (editor)

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