Although thought leadership is not an appropriate format for marketing product features and benefits directly, there is a way to link thought leadership pieces to a broader product marketing strategy. In other words, thought leadership can accomplish more than brand awareness and help build reputations.
Connecting the two strategies can be very effective. You can even design them to reinforce each other.
The key to making this connection is getting greater clarity on what questions your product answers. Typically, people think of products as addressing particular needs and pain points. You can also look at these from another frame of reference. Each need implies an underlying question about the most efficient ways to accomplish something.
For example, a fintech product that helps streamline customer due diligence and anti-money laundering efforts implicitly offers a point of view on the most efficient ways to complete the tasks it supports. It also embeds a hypothesis, such as the impact of automation in high-volume AML monitoring.
Similarly, a product that offers rich real-time data to support trading operations relies on hypotheses about the data that have the most impact and provide the best insights to users for the decisions they need to make at any point in time.
These are just two illustrative examples. In fact, you can trace any product or service back to underlying hypotheses and assumptions, which in turn are answers to questions about optimizing how people work, how data flows, and more.
These questions can become the seed for thought leadership. Imagine thought leadership such as:
- A position paper advocating for the role of automation within a particular set of processes
- Single or aggregated case studies highlighting day-to-day challenges for people and organizations
- A survey gathering data about the current landscape for your target market
- A series of blog posts highlighting related industry developments and emerging practices
- Interviews and conversations between product designers and clients
There are many options you can pursue.
The power of this approach is that it goes beyond product brochures, testimonials, and similar types of content. It builds your credibility within a particular niche, in which you offer a differentiated solution. It helps you shape the market’s understanding of its needs, and it provided materials that help sustain conversations with prospects (vital especially in longer B2B sales cycles).
Simply put, combining the two approaches leaves you better positioned to convince your market that you have a solution to a specific problem because you also demonstrate the best understanding of that problem. You provide a layer of insights that sits on top of your product or service features and sets you apart from your competition.