Thought Leadership on Customer Experience: Part 3

In the last blog in this series, we discussed foundational elements for a successful thought leadership B2B marketing program: a compelling meta-theme, credible eye-opening customer research, data-packed white papers, and key findings segmented into a few key themes that can be used for marketing campaigns.

Now let’s discuss the thought leadership program toolkit. These are all the techniques and channels you can use to deploy your customer experience program internally and externally for maximum impact. Here’s a run-down in a likely order of

  • Primary Research – as previously discussed, you’ll need original interesting data on customer experience in your industry, either compiled internally or through a credible analyst firm
  • Quarterly Themes – slice and dice the data to develop themes that can be explored in successive campaign waves, allowing you to generate interest and leads continuously
  • White Papers / Executive Briefings – generate a series of educational (not promotional) papers from the research data. These will form the core of the quarterly campaigns. Require registration (lead capture) in order to download.
  • Content Micro-site – create a stand-alone site or an area on your corporate site to serve as the thought leadership hub, offering both free and registration-required content
  • External Experts – research the top consultants and speakers in your topical area, and enlist the best one or two as spokespersons and partners
  • Videos – create videos featuring those industry experts and a few key internal people speaking about your thought leadership themes. A montage format is appealing.
  • Event Presentations / Speeches – put those industry experts and key internal people to work speaking about your thought leadership at industry events, panel discussions, seminars, etc. Try to get them interviewed, or submit byline articles
    “authored” by them.
  • Webinars – now get those industry experts and key internal people to present your thought leadership via webcasts. Slice and dice the data to create webinars
    for target segments and advertise the webcasts on the sites they frequent.
  • Podcasts / Recorded Webcasts – take the audio and video from those webcasts and create files that users can download and watch on their smart phones during commutes
  • E-newsletters – slice and dice the data to create themed e-newsletters, presenting each topic via several types of media (article, video, podcast, etc.) and inviting interaction
  • Media Coverage / PR – announce your research and key findings via news releases, and write/submit articles. Capture and re-promote all media coverage. Monitor and comment on online discussions, inserting your topics.
  • Executive Blogs – post a series of blogs “authored” by key internal people (try for the CEO) and your guest external experts
  • Pay-per-click Campaigns – create SEM campaigns around key words from your research findings, and use them to funnel search engine traffic to your micro-site
  • Social Media Content – drive traffic to your thought leadership micro-site via factoid teaser posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Post your videos on YouTube, and your event decks on SlideShare. All roads should lead back to your downloads (registration required).
  • Sales Presentations – don’t forget to arm your sales force with all these materials, sliced by industry, target group, and theme. You’ll need to train them by delivering the presos for or with them, and pointing them to all the recorded materials.

This will keep you busy all year. Then do all this again, adjusting the research to freshen the themes and supply new campaign topics for the coming year. I’m just embarking on this whole program for my new employer, Vantiv, with a focus on the financial services / payment processing customer experience. Now that you have the formula, have at it with me! Let me know how it’s going, and I’ll keep you posted.

About Lorena Harris

Lorena Harris has more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with large business service companies. Her expertise is in designing research-based content marketing programs for brand building and demand generation. Since earning her MBA from Duke, Lorena has built revenue-generating marketing programs for $B+ B2B service companies such as Fiserv, First Data and Vantiv (financial services), ADP (employee benefit services), Convergys (contact center services) and Donnelly (publishing services). More information available on
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