The Importance of Product-Agnostic Content for Thought Leadership in B2B Businesses
Building a loyal following in the B2B sector takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work.
There are several approaches one can take to become a prominent authority or figure in their respective industry, including networking, climbing the corporate ladder, and participating in industry conferences, panels, and events.
While these strategies do work and have their place, another approach has taken the reins: thought leadership.
Thought leaders are individuals within a specific industry, company, or community that are looked to for answers by their target audience. By sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with others, thought leaders become a central place for answers, opinions, and direction in the B2B marketplace.
According to a thought leadership impact study by Edelman, almost half of B2B decision-makers spend one hour or more consuming thought leadership content per week.
Companies and individuals looking to position themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries will find the thought leadership approach to be a worthwhile endeavor, but only if they create product-agnostic content.
Product-Agnostic Content: What Is It and Why Is It Important for B2B Thought Leadership?
Product-agnostic content is content that is not about or tied to a specific product. This concept applies to brand-agnostic content as well.
This type of content never seeks to sell a reader or viewer on a specific product or service. Rather, it aims to educate or entertain.
All too often, marketers create endless content centered around the products and services their company offers and jam these articles, videos, and media into their audience’s buying cycle—from awareness to the final sale.
This traditional sales and marketing approach does not position the brand as a thought leader or authority in their industry. Instead, they develop a reputation for boasting a “car salesman”-esque brand always focused on themselves and the product.
The thought leadership impact study by Edelman also reported that 89% of decision-makers state that thought leadership can be effective in enhancing their perception of a brand or organization.
Organizations looking to develop lasting B2B relationships with their current and future clients will benefit greatly from taking a product-agnostic approach to thought leadership content.
4 Benefits of Producing Product-Agnostic Thought Leadership Content in the B2B Space
Companies embracing a product-agnostic content approach can expect to take advantage of four distinct benefits:
1. Reach a Wider Audience
When content is solely focused on a specific product or brand, this instantly limits its ability to reach a larger audience. By taking the thought leadership route, brands have the opportunity to reach a much larger audience through topics that appeal to the majority of the target market.
For example, if a healthcare SaaS company only produces content about their software, this approach relies on branded keywords and previous knowledge of the brand and/or product to generate traffic.
Instead, the company should focus on thought leadership content about topics their B2B audience wants to read about like:
- Basic healthcare data practices
- How to leverage healthcare SaaS while complying with HIPAA laws
- Ways healthcare facilities can use software to streamline their processes
- Tools doctors offices can use to enhance the patient experience
These topics aren’t about the company’s products, services, or brand, but rather seek to inform readers about relevant topics that can benefit their business and job. And, with a majority of the target market searching online for similar topics, the SaaS company has a greater chance of appearing in the search results and capturing the attention of a larger audience.
2. Brand and Product Mentions Will Mean More
After developing a strong reputation as a B2B thought leader, content that does mention your brand or product will have a greater impact.
Companies like HubSpot or Impact have built a massive audience by creating and distributing product-agnostic content. Therefore, when a brand or product is mentioned in their content, it’s a big deal!
Their audience knows that if these companies and the respective thought leaders within the organizations do discuss a specific product, service, or brand, that it must be worth their time and attention.
However, after developing a prominent thought leadership following, companies must be diligent about the products, services, and other brands mentioned in their content. A mention is equivalent to an endorsement, so choose wisely!
3. B2B Clients are Already Product and Brand Agnostic
In the B2B world, clients tend to not be as brand loyal as B2C brands. Instead, they are looking for a product that best suits their organization’s needs and offers an ideal solution to their problem.
With this in mind, potential B2B clients won’t be searching the Internet for a particular product or branded keyword or query. They’ll be on the hunt for answers to their company’s or department’s predicament.
And where will they find these answers? In your product-agnostic thought leadership content!
Rather than attempting to pitch a product, walk readers or viewers how to solve their problem through a step-by-step how-to video or educational article.
When looking for help online, your leads don’t want to hear a sales pitch. They only want answers. With this in mind, the majority of your company’s content should be focused on product and brand-agnostic thought leadership topics since future leads will not initially be searching for such content.
However, product-focused content does have its place in the B2B sales cycle—much farther down the funnel.
4. Brand Authority Will Be Based on Merit
B2B companies can create industry authority through catchy ad campaigns, nonstop networking events, and overly ambitious community-building efforts.
All of these options are worthwhile, valid, and develop a lasting company reputation in the B2B market. However, none of these options prove a company’s credibility or merit.
Thought leadership content, on the other hand, does.
This type of company content is created to share pertinent information, answers, and assistance to customers. In doing so, your company proves that it knows what it’s talking about and is the go-to authority on such topics.
Therefore, as your brand builds credibility through your product-agnostic thought leadership content, the reputation and following you develop is based on your expertise, knowledge, and merit. Few brands can truly say this!
A B2B Thought Leadership Content Strategy Must Also Be Channel-Agnostic
To continuously grow your B2B thought leadership following, your content must also be channel-agnostic.
This first begins in the content creation stage. Don’t focus all of your efforts on one medium like whitepapers or blog posts. Be sure to create all types of content for your B2B audience to enjoy.
A channel-agnostic approach can include everything from videos to podcasts, interactive quizzes to eBooks. The goal is to provide a multi-channel content experience that shares your industry and topic knowledge with those in the B2B space.
Of course, not every content topic translates to a specific medium or channel.
For instance, you’d have a difficult time translating a step-by-step instructional topic into a podcast. This type of content is highly visual and is best communicated in a blog post or video.
With this in mind, your channel-agnostic strategy must still opt for mediums that best share and communicate the right information with your audience.
Next, a channel-agnostic strategy must consider content distribution.
While your B2B audience does consume content on multiple platforms or channels, they won’t use every platform. Use your marketing analytics to discover which platforms your audience spends the most time on.
Distribute your thought leadership content to these top channels and give each an equal amount of attention. Through a channel-agnostic approach to content distribution, your brand effectively increases its audience reach once again by attracting new readers or viewers on those individual platforms and channels.
Don’t Be Afraid to Curate Product-Agnostic Content as Well
As a prominent thought leader and authority in your industry and the B2B landscape, the most important thing you can do is share information.
And, no one said you had to be the brainchild for all that information!
In addition to creating your own product-agnostic content, embrace the process of curating this type of content too.
By identifying informative content from other sources, you open your following up to an entire community of thought leadership and secure your position as a go-to source for relevant, timely, and accurate industry information.
When curating product-agnostic content, be sure to thoroughly review the content before including it in a newsletter or sharing it on social media. Comb through the content to ensure that it is truly not a sales pitch for a specific brand or product/service and is focused on sharing information with the B2B community.
If it passes the test and you believe your community would find the topic and content to be valuable, share it!
Additionally, don’t be afraid to consider outsourcing your content as well. After becoming a prominent thought leader, you’ll take on more content responsibilities. A little content creation help can go a long way!
Grow a Thought Leadership Following Through Insightful Product-Agnostic Content
While developing and distributing product-agnostic content is a sure-fire way to become a B2B thought leadership powerhouse, remember that brand and product-specific content does have its place.
Through a perfect combination of these two types of content, your company can build a loyal B2B following and work to close more deals.