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You have a great product, a big marketing budget, and a hard-working sales team. But what do you really need to set your organization apart from the competition? Great thought leadership content.

Whether you're a B2B or B2C, powerful thought leadership content can really propel your company into an organization that is seen as innovative and trustworthy. As we all know, after consistently engaging with your thought leadership content and viewing your company as a leader in its field, your prospects will keep you top of mind in a specific industry. Eventually, when they are ready to buy, they'll think of you, not your competitors.

Here are 5 ideas for creating thought leadership content that drives sales.

1. Conduct Research

Whether you hire an outside company or do the research yourself, providing research allows your company to become a source of information and online content for organizations. For example, HubSpot often conducts its own research on online marketing. This research often gets passed along by teams and referenced in other online content, and HubSpot is seen as a leader in online marketing. Better yet, do research that helps support the buying process---the kind of research that will get passed along to decision makers.

2. Entertain and Delight

Once you start producing great thought leadership content, don't forget to entertain and delight your prospects. Whether you market to IT professionals or other marketers, inject personality and humor into your content. Prospects will be more likely to remember you, and, when they do decide to evaluate solutions, you'll be top of mind.

3. Conduct Interviews with the Product Team

Even if your product or engineering team doesn't have time to actually help produce content, they can certainly participate in the production. Set up a quick Q&A session (whether video or written) with your product or technical team. They may have some keen insights into what really sets your organization apart from the rest. Plus, letting your prospects get to know the team behind your product will certainly help them develop even more trust in your organization. And as we all know: Trust leads to customers.

4. Invite Customers to Participate

Inviting customers to participate in the development of your thought leadership content is a great way to produce content with less internal resources and produce content that doubles as testimonials or social proof. Invite customers to guest blog or do an interview Q&A on your website. Really, no one is more credible to your prospects than your current customers.

5. Have Webinar Q&A Sessions

Let your prospects interact with your thought leaders directly with interactive Q&A webinars. You can start off with a few slides of content, but focus on letting your prospects get to know you and ask questions---like a group consultation session. Nothing says "I'm a leader" better than having a few dozen people seek your advice in a group setting. Plus, you can help answer questions that your prospects may have in the back of their mind---the kind of questions that prevent them from moving forward in the sales process.

If you now feel all warm and fuzzy about thought leadership content, I hope you can join us tomorrow, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time) for a special webcast with our friends at Eloqua---How to Create a Thought Leadership Platform and Back It Up with Content Marketing.

Continue reading "5 Ideas for Creating Sales-Driving Thought Leadership Content" ... Read the full article

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image of Megan Leap
Megan Leap is Online Marketing Manager at MarketingProfs, where she develops innovative, high-ROI social media campaigns. Previously, she was Online Marketing Manager at ion interactive, a leading provider of landing page software, where she spearheaded their social media strategy from the ground up. She's also consulted with leading brands on social media strategy and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter @MeganLeap.