5 easy steps to building ongoing thought-leadership content

The development of ongoing, thought-leadership content has become the necessary element for a marketing program that increases visibility and produces leads, but it’s not enough simply to publish a blog or white paper anymore. 

Quantity is important in building library and getting found over time, but quality is what makes the difference in terms of an engaged readership.

And it more than written content—today’s content marketer must create multimedia assets through video, infographics, webinars that weaves an overall thought-leadership narrative—that’s what keeps them coming back for more. 

Because content marketing done properly is a process and not a series of projects, here’s a 5-step process that will more easily help you develop multi-media content at once that can be plugged into your editorial calendar:

1. Start with a content audit.

What pieces of content have you already developed? What were the responses? Which topics resonated with your audience and which did not (and do you really know why)? All of these questions will help you determine the topics and mediums that will best resonate with your audience.

Moz has an excellent, step-by-step content audit process outlined here.

2. Generate Buyer Personas.

To build an engaged audience, you must understand who your buyers are, what their issues are, and where they get information from. A good place to start is by interviewing your current customers and find out why they bought from you in the first place.

Talk to sales and find out how they’ve been finding leads. If you have a complex sales cycle, map out the process steps that led to those deals and see if you can identify some consistent issues. That way, you can develop content that helps sales people through the entire sales cycle, and not just top-of-funnel. 

Hubspot has a decent process for building buyer personas outlined here.

3. Conduct content planning workshops and document a production plan that maps to your editorial calendar.

Now that you’ve determined the topics and the problems that your prospects are trying to solve, schedule workshops with your thought leaders in your organization to discuss these issues in detail. Many may disagree—but that’s okay! This creative process will lead to topics and issue discovery that you may not have considered.

The purpose of the planning workshops should be to develop the questions you want to ask the thought leaders in one sitting. If you can capture the interviews on video, that’s even better—because the videos can then be edited, transcribed and used to create articles and white papers. The video can also be edited and inserted into blog posts, articles and white papers. Using multiple mediums like this improves your engagement and search results.

4. Determine the skills needed for content production and schedule time with your thought-leaders.

Writers, editors and journalists are a given. But most likely, you’ll need videographers and designers to produce the content you need as well. 

If you’re building your content around a video shoot (a good idea), you’ll need to coordinate with a videographer to streamline the process and flow so you’re maximizing your thought leaders’ time. Have your questions written out, know what information you want to extract, and line up the video clips with that production plan. 

5. Develop campaigns from the information collected based around the reoccurring themes and publish.

Now that all of that information has been collected, production on the content assets can begin. Start by mapping out an editorial calendar—for example: Month 1, topic X, blog X, video X, Month 2, topic Y, blog Y, video Y, and so on.

Segment your videos to correspond with the calendar and have them transcribed. Now you’ve got a baseline of information, and writing the blog post or article is as simple as adding some internet research and editing. 

Note that a blog should probably be the central component of your content marketing campaign. They’re probably the easiest and most flexible asset to produce on a regular basis, and will do the most good for ongoing lead generation because they will continue to come up in search results. It also makes it easy to push blog links out through social media, leading people back to your site.

Also realize that prospective customers won’t necessarily be ready to buy when you publish the blog, but over time they’ll demonstrate expertise and be waiting for your buyer when they’re conducting research.

Every blog that you produce should lead to some form of conversion—that can be a white paper that adds significant information on a topic, an upcoming webinar, or an infographic to name a few. 

Speaking of infographics, we’ve found them to be one of our greatest conversion tools. Why? Many people are visual learners and understand better when it’s presented to them in a visual format. Click below for an infographic that shows the process we’ve just described.

Because of the large number of tools available and skill sets needed for content development and production, it’s no wonder why most companies choose a content development partner. Here are some things to think about if you plan to outsource some or all of your content production. 

B2B Marketing Zone