The importance of content marketing is common knowledge: yes, businesses need to consistently publish valuable content if they hope to see success. But there's a catch.
There is a key word that we can't overlook here: valuable.
Outsourcing content like blogs and videos to an army of contractors or junior employees might seem like a tempting way to reduce your workload. However, this can often be a missed opportunity to move the needle with that content, or you're left with vanilla flavored articles without any real differentiating value.
To address this, Simple Strat CEO Ali Schwanke recently appeared on an episode of the Modern Day Marketer podcast to discuss the role of leadership in content marketing and distribution. While we encourage you to listen to the full episode (there are tons of nuggets in there!) – we’ve also recapped some of the top takeaways that tackle one key question:
Why should founders or executive leaders be part of your content initiative?
The answer being . . . why shouldn’t they be? Or what are you missing without them?
Why the voice of your company’s leadership matters
As a leader, your voice is a powerful catalyst for the marketing and sales teams.
Not only are Google’s ranking algorithms making huge shifts to elevate content with unique expert perspectives, there’s a bigger reason why leaders need to take a more active role in content creation:
Mediocre content doesn’t build trust with customers.
Think about it – how many times have you Googled something hoping to find solid advice, but instead you’re greeted with a listicle of 10 things you’ve already done, without result?
Customers are drawn to the content that demonstrates the author has a specific, and unique level of expertise. And that can achieved by founder-led content, or interviews with subject matter experts that’s translated into content.
At Simple Strat, we utilize a combination of both – but you’ll find our founder’s (Ali) insights in a large amount of our content, whether direct or based on ideas and insights from her work in the industry. We do the same for our clients and not only does that type of content perform better, but it further elevates their perceived value among their target customers.
Too many industry experts undervalue their own expertise
When you accumulate knowledge about a topic, especially deep knowledge over time, it becomes easy to lose sight of how much the average person knows about it. It’s common to wrongfully assume that “what we know” isn’t all that different from “what everyone knows.”
Even in our own HubSpot consulting work, the knowledge and experience we’ve acquired can seem straight forward from the inside. However, for people who are relatively new to the HubSpot platform and/or building a strategy to be successful with the technology, this can be overwhelming, despite all of the help articles about the topic.
The “curse of knowledge” holds true across all levels of expertise. It’s also applicable across all types of content. You’ll often find it at play wherever niche knowledge is developed. But recognizing this as a limitation is the step at identifying your opportunity!
Not only can you provide expertise, but your depth of insight as an industry leader provides the foundation for an effective thought leadership strategy.
While simple to explain, some companies still have a hard time adapting to this more leader-centered content style. After all – it’s hard to outsource and churn out content by the dozens.
But it’s key to bringing humans into the sales experience – which can be a differentiator in today’s content soaked environment. It’s truly quality over quantity in many cases.
The importance of human faces (and voices) to build trust and credibility
As a founder, your company reflects your philosophy, your values, and the things you want to innovate in the marketplace. Think about Apple the direct reflection on its vision and the philosophies and beliefs of Steve Jobs. You’ll find this to be true of many organizations.
These beliefs and convictions are what makes podcasts, videos, and blogs so potentially useful: people are looking for purpose and meaning, and your voice can articulate that best.
How does this translate to human voices and faces?
Well, we all know if someone is live on a video or a podcast, they are the expert. The words are coming out of their mouth. They can’t outsource their likeness in the same way you could a blog (at least not yet!). It carries more weight in establishing trust – and customers are craving trust like no other time in history.
And this trust creates relationships – which is key to getting your content distributed and shared by people.
In fact, if you study the performance of a LinkedIn company page vs a LinkedIn executive profile, you’ll find anywhere from 5 to 10 times more reach from and individual versus a company.
Think about amplifying that across all of the people in your organization – that’s a lot of impact!
Modern technology can amplify reach, but human behavior remains much the same: you still need to prove your credibility, and provide some kind of value and personalized communication to someone before they consider doing something for you.
Adding executives (and key thought leaders) into your content marketing
Like all initiatives, the tips seem simple, but the behavior change is the challenge. Executive informed or founder-led content requires a bit of a paradigm shift, and it doesn’t happen overnight. However, there are a number of tips to get started:
- Ask yourself: “what is the role of subject matter expertise in my company?”
This might be less important if you’re a product company, but your product probably still emerged from a problem you’re solving, and that’s something you have expertise in. You need to have a clear picture of what your content is going to accomplish for your customer at different stages in their journey.
Determine where human expertise really drives a level of differentiation for your customers.
- Be patient and consistent over the long run
Often in marketing, we let go of things that don’t get quick results. However, success with content marketing and thought leadership requires consistency and patience to drive the full impact.
As a founder, whether you’re involved in the day to day of content creation, or simply approving the program from afar, having the right expectations and mindset is important.
- Don’t strive for perfection
This is one that is particularly challenging to communicate to executive level leaders, but perfection is the enemy of progress. And it can be the biggest obstacle to getting an executive content initiative off the ground.
You have to be okay with the fact that it might not be very good at first, and that it will get better. Nobody wants to look stupid on a video or podcast, or write something people don’t like, but with repetition comes learning. Help your team overcome this by identifying some of the “early content” of companies you like (even HubSpot’s content at first pales in comparison to what they produce today!). Strive for progress, not perfection.
- Have a strong point of view that resonates with your target audience
One of the most important components of successful content marketing is having a strong point of view. Again, that’s where an executive or founder’s voice in your content initiative can be invaluable! A strong point of view will catch the attention of your target audience, drawing in the individuals who believe what you believe, and repel the ones that don’t.
- Play to your strengths — don’t try to be something you’re not
If you’re an exec and you struggle to speak in public without extensive prep, you’re probably going to struggle on video — especially if you’re a more calculated and analytical person, which is incredibly common in tech these days. If you want to use video, perhaps you should consider some press training or media training to get more comfortable on camera.
If you excel at short form content, go use Twitter or short blog posts. If you’re good at speaking about your expertise, product or problem you solve, podcasts may be the way to go. Do what works for you. Just embrace it – commit and be consistent.
When business leaders delegate all their content creation and distribution, they miss out on a huge opportunity to build trust and establish credibility with customers. Instead, use your vision, values, and expertise to help your team produce content that makes a real impact.
Want to get started with a content marketing strategy that utilizes your expert knowledge to grow your credibility in the marketplace? Learn more about content marketing by Simple Strat.
Or, if you simply want to learn more first, check out our advice for a better B2B content strategy.