6 step guide to building thought leadership with webinars
A webinar is one of the best ways to position yourself and your brand as a thought leader within your industry. You can share your expertise or host a panel of established movers and shakers in your field. In this article, we will go through how a webinar will bring your thought leadership content to life.
In 2021, LinkedIn released the B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study which found that 48% of survey respondents spend at least an hour a week “consuming thought leadership content” and a whopping 89% believe “thought leadership increased a brand’s positive impact”. Additionally, the study also reported that 49% of respondents felt that thought leadership added a positive impact when it came to purchasing decisions.
What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership may sound like one of those meaningless buzzwords 🐝, but it’s something you should get in on, if you want your brand to succeed!
Thought leadership is defined by Marketing Insider Group as “a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic”.
How does it relate to your brand?
It relates to your brand because it isn’t about how viral your video is, or where your employees went to school. It’s about what you’re doing to try and answer questions that your intended demographic have, and to keep working on attracting a growing number of new traffic, leads, and sales with your website and marketing.
Thought leadership is particularly essential for companies with a complex product or market, companies in a blue ocean market with potential buyer in need of being educated, or where the deal size is larger than pure transactional sales.
Read on below for our six-step guide to building your brand as a thought leader and how to weaponize your webinar for maximum impact.
1. Provide novel insights on a topic 🔍
Thought leadership requires both deep knowledge in your field and an interesting speaker to deliver the data.
But, most of all - you should provide insights people won’t be able to find anywhere else. Thus, when planning your webinar, you’ll want to do broad research - and do lots of it.
Look at what competitors are up to, brainstorm questions that your audience might have for you, and use the experience from within your company to guide your content. Run polls on social media to get a picture of the challenges that your customers might interested in or struggling with.
Relevant and up-to-date industry analyses, relevant knowledge from the inside, deep dive case studies, and sharing personal experiences — these are all valuable forms of content for thought leadership. Let's give nuggets that are hard to find anywhere else.
2. Give insights that your audience can take action on 🎯
Creating your webinar is different from pushing short format social media content. It is also different from writing up a blog post. You want to go with thought provoking content that catches peoples' attention. But, you need to back it up with lots of data and spending time explaining it. Not just aiming for quick-hits.
Make your webinar content something people will talk about and share in your field. It could be providing an inspiring story from your own career, a detailed tutorial of a new piece of technology or trend you have been scouting. Do a deep dive case study, or arrange a panel discussion with the most prominent names in your industry.
So, just like any great webinar - a successful thought leadership webinar should be 1. data-driven and 2. delivered in an interesting way.
The webinar should help your attendees to improve their respective companies around the theme you are covering. Preferable by suggesting new ways of doing things, or providing novel insights that gives them that AHA-moment.
You want to attendees leave and say to themselves - "I want to learn more about the hosting company and their solutions".
3. Build a lineup of thought leaders to speak at your webinar 🧑
Now that you have aligned your message to be interesting and relevant for your target group - it is time to find thought and industry leaders to join!
Thought leaders can come from all throughout your organization - PMs, experienced sales professionals, the CX team, or your C-level executives. Their views may be, apart from their role in the company, informed by a diverse background, age, or gender. You can use them as anything from panelists, chat moderators, or Q&A hosts to even writing for your post-webinar blogs.
Where do you find these people externally? Well, first of all - make sure to keep your network hot. Mingle and go to meetups in the industry, connect with new people on LinkedIn to extend your network, attend other webinars where you can be active in the chat, and join in on different communities. Also, look at other companies gaining traction in your industry - are there any relevant partners?
4. Set a webinar promotion strategy to establish yourself as thought leader 🚀
The promotional strategy for your webinar is essential. Especially, when you want to build your brand up from the ground. Obviously, if your company is already established in your network and industry - you already have a head start.
Make sure throughout your social networks your webinar is promoted, from landing pages to graphics in the social media feed. You want to stay with a consistent theme, but dare to test different types of messaging out. Collect relevant MQLs via your blog and website. Send out a newsletter to your existing base of customers.
Don’t forget to create a clear and easy registration page for your webinar, which we have discussed in past blogs. Direct all traffic and campaigns towards this registration page (where e.g. we at Univid have beautiful and branded registration pages, with one click - test to create a session here).
Work with social media and hashtags to find out what types of promotional content has been popular before, and what thought-leaders in your industry already use. You can also work with the right hashtags to put your content in the hands of the right people.
Be comfortable in being bold and creative in promoting your webinar. It can also be an effective way to test out what kind of messaging work for your audience, what positioning you should use, what trends that could be relevant to jump onto, and what content to continue pushing ahead.
Enable the panel speakers and webinar hosts to push the webinar in their channels. Give them the material, copy, etc. that they need to easily work their networks for you. Allowing your thought leaders to connect with the audience before-hand also creates a powerful loop of familiarity and engagement when you finally get to the webinar.
5. Use engagement tools to start, activate, and wrap up the live webinar 📊
Running a live webinar shows your audience you are an expert and can deliver a great experience for your attendees. Just like your product, or service might do for them. So, the impression of the webinar is important. A boring webinar will result in a boring impression of you, your brand, and your product.
Thus, use available engagement tools like polls, live reactions, quiz, and the gamification leaderboard. We have gone through these in past blogs - ask some starter questions to break the ice in the beginning, activate the attendees with polls throughout (look at our poll generator tools), and highlight the Q&A both during the webinar and in the end of the webinar.
6. Practice and do a dry-run ♻️
As with anything, plan for several run-throughs with all speakers present before the webinar.
Do a tech run beforehand to test your tech and make sure everything is running smoothly. Have some team members listen in to make sure it looks good and runs nicely on all devices and Internet connection.
Closer to going live - do a dry rehearsal. Make sure everyone is comfortable presenting content and knows their parts. Having lots of unknowns or not planning in time to test creates unnecessary stress.
Thought-leadership, as shown in this guide, is not some meaningless or difficult abstract notion. Think of thought leadership as a way of relationship-building with your audience, allowing them to gain useful information about you, as you are gathering inspiration from your audience about what they want to learn more about in the future.
Go and be a thought leader in your field today!