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COVID-19: Producing Effective Thought Leadership to Lean into The Situation

One thing that we have always been big advocates for is thought leadership. We have covered different aspects of this B2B marketing strategy so much that it seems there is no angle left unturned. Just then, though, the world threw us all a curveball in the way of the novel coronavirus.

That has led to the confusion of many thought leaders in the industry as to what they should do.

Would it be wise to take a step back and wait for the pandemic to play out before they continue with more content? Should they instead step up to the challenge and do the opposite?

Where Thought Leaders Should Be

There are a lot of things happening right now, and many people are focusing on different things. Inevitably, a lot of businesses will struggle, but this is not the end for all of them. It is a bend – and a serious one at that – but it is your activities right now that will dictate what the future would look like for you.

In line with the above, it is no surprise that up to 69% of brands believe that they will decrease their ad spending this year. That is in tune with the fact that some 65% of respondents to a survey have noticed a decline in their revenue.

What these people are not putting into consideration is that the market will always be better in the long run.

To paraphrase the words of Warren Buffet, the best time to be greedy is when others are fearful. Right now is the time when other brands are nervous, and you can capitalize on that to get your message out there.

You will also be the one in the face of the people and be remembered for taking a stand after the pandemic is over. Best believe that you would have gained fine followership now that your audience is all at home and have more time to interact with you.

We are not saying that this will be easy, but it can be done.

By the ending of March 2020, 86% of marketers in the UK have started dropping, delaying, or reviewing their marketing campaigns. These are the people who figured that they better not do anything now – or go back to the drawing board to make another campaign that fits into this time.

In that same section, we have 14% of marketers who are adapting to the changes on the go and continuing with their marketing as planned.

Maybe not as it was planned to the letter, but in line with what they wanted to get out of their marketing anyways.

That said, another thing that makes this time fine for you is how much less competition you have. If you haven’t seen this yet, let us be the first to tell you that 74% of brands are posting less on social media. With everyone at home, that is a social media audience being deprived of content.

The irony here is that when the audience was too busy with the hustle and bustle of every day, this content was flying around. Now that they have all the time to access it, is it reasonable for a thought leader to hold back?

Finally, ad spends are at their lowest right now. This has seen companies like Facebook and Google bring down the cost of their ad marketing. In other words, you can now get more done for less.

Do not worry about your money going down the drain, either. After all, this time allows you to reach more people at home.

We know that you are not worried about sales at this point – and if you are, you should not be.

The first stage of the marketing funnel has always been to generate the leads and cultivate them with your thought leadership content. That is what you can do now – and with cheaper ads to reach a much wider audience. By the time this lockdown and pandemic is over, your leads would be closer to the base of the funnel than before.

Since you were the only one that they identified with during the pandemic, too, you are the one that they will like to keep doing business with also.

Win-win, no matter how you look at it.

Getting Thought Leadership Right

We cannot tell you how to do your thought leadership. That is something that comes from your sacred place of creativity from where you draw insights to feed the general public.

What we can tell you, though, is how not to do it.

This is not the time to exploit the situation in any way. If what you are about to put out there does not contribute any tangible help to the audience you are trying to reach, scrap it. Better still, review it to see if there is anything to be salvaged there. If there is none, make sure that the campaign bites the dust.

Likewise, check to see that your message is not tone deaf.

This is not the time to use controversial headlines anyhow or try to use emotion-based marketing if you don’t understand what you are doing. You should also know that the spread of your target market has changed to beyond what you used to know. It would do you a lot of good to dig deep into your new target market and demographics to get it done right.

In that light, we have been following some thought leaders ourselves.

Even though they have been great at their thought leadership content and strategy before this period, they have been a shining light with the kind of message they are passing across right now too.

You can check some of them out for yourself too.

1. Burger King

Burger King is already a household name in the countries that they are established in. Although they came to limelight for their burgers, they now sell an assortment of fast foods at their outlets.

Still, it is the burgers that put them on the map.

Rather than holding back from the public, Burger King has started creating tutorial videos on how to make these burgers for the general public. You would think that this is going to hurt their business in the long run – since it might mean they don’t get the same number of customers when the pandemic is over.

However, such thinking would be wrong.

You should know that some people have acquired a taste to burgers. While there are different kinds of burgers out there, everyone tries to be unique. Thus, the mode of preparation that the burgers from Burger King pass through could be what appeals to a consumer the most.

Now that they are supposed to stay home, the company doesn’t want its customers coming out just because they missed their favorite burgers. Thus, the best way to satisfy their cravings is to teach them how to make this burger at home.

A win, right?

On the other business end of things, this will not continue after the lockdown. Burgers are one of those fast foods that you can make at home, but you also love the experience that comes with getting served anyway.

This is why people will still leave their homes to go to Burger King for a burger when this is all over. Don’t forget that these customers will be grateful for that level of support too.

2. Diageo

What is a good meal without an excellent drink to go with it, right?

Diageo understands this too, and that is why they have joined the thought leadership world with tips on how to make some of their best drinks.

You might be wondering who this even is. After all, why should you care about them if you have never had their drinks before?

Diageo is only the company behind Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Baileys, and Guinness. Quite an impressive lineup there, don’t you think?

Now you know why it is essential that they are doing this.

3. Forrester

Forrester takes a unique approach to the coronavirus pandemic in catering to businesses from all around the world.

These are uncertain times, and there is not much to go on. With Forrester, though, you can get some actionable data and valuable advice that you can leverage for better decision making.

On their blog, they have created a section dedicated to the coronavirus topic and how it affects brands. Here, they cover everything from the future of work, impacts on the employees, adjusting strategies, the response of the consumer market, and more to country/ region-specific datasets too.

This is the company not taking advantage of the situation to push its agenda. They are, instead, committing their resources to help other companies take the necessary steps for now and the future.

4. McKinsey

Just like Forrester, McKinsey is yet another thought leader that is putting its resources to use in creating useful analysis and insights.

McKinsey understands that the future of work is not going to be what it used to be. They would not be wrong if they used all the forces at their disposal to better themselves. But then, that would be extremely poor of them.

That is why they have decided to touch on the implications for businesses, how various business processes can be kickstarted again, and more.

You Can Do It Too

You have seen how the best at the game are doing it. It goes beyond looking inwards to bring out a challenging thought now. We are now at the stage where you have to think far and wide about what would benefit your immediate audience.

Not just what will benefit them in the short run either but something they will be able to keep for the longer term.

Do you feel you can step up to this challenge? Are you ready to prove yourself as a thought leader all over again? While every other thought leader is passing through fire, can you lay claim to developing a fireproof strategy? Now is the time to put yourself to that test.

Done right, you are setting yourself up for one of the most defining times in the life of your strategy.

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