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How to write B2B SaaS thought leadership that drives results
The B2B SaaS industry is growing quickly and showing no signs of slowing. However, the industry is oversaturated. Marketing to an entire company is more difficult than marketing to a single consumer, and many B2B SaaS companies struggle to close their sales and compete in a constantly evolving market. Those who are being strategic are leveraging B2B SaaS thought leadership to differentiate their company and make a name for themselves in their niche.
What is SaaS thought leadership content?
Because much of the SaaS industry is innovative and well, new, B2B SaaS companies have the challenge of proving the value of their solutions. Much of this authority comes from experience, marketing and opinion. Fortunately, B2B SaaS thought leadership solidifies these respected qualities.
But where does the concept of “thought leadership” come from? The term was originally coined by Joel Kurtzman, the editor-in-chief of Strategy+Business Magazine, in 1994. He described a thought leader as someone who is “recognized by peers, customers and industry experts as someone who deeply understands the business they are in, the needs of their customers and the broader marketplace in which they operate.”
The term quickly caught attention for being more than just a buzzword, but a valuable strategy to build credibility in an industry that’s hard to get your foot in the door.
However, as Joel Kurtzman details, it's not enough to position yourself as the best B2B SaaS company with the most original, astonishing ideas. According to Edelman’s 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, 66% of B2B decision-makers believe that the pandemic increased thought leadership content in the marketplace, and consider much of the new content to be low-quality and diluting the value of thought leadership. Now, 77% believe that less than half of the content they read provides them value.
This goes to show that you need to strategize and execute a thought leadership content strategy that’s credible, easy for your audience to understand, and offers clear value.
Why is B2B SaaS thought leadership important?
A thought leadership strategy is highly effective in the SaaS industry when you’re marketing to an entire company, not just a single consumer. With so many stakeholders to get on board in every sale, there will often be parties that are critical of investing in your SaaS product or service along with those who approve of it.
Thought leadership offers a consistent method of connecting and communicating with these prospects and clients, helping you build trust with them. More than that, it can significantly influence B2B brand perception and buying behavior. After consuming a piece of thought leadership, B2B decision-makers are:
- 48% more likely to give business to the organization who created the thought leadership
- 53% more likely to expand their business contract with the organization
- 54% more likely to purchase a product or service from the organization
Beyond sales, B2B Saas thought leadership helps spread word of mouth about your business. Once customers trust the credibility and value of your content, they’ll share it for you, helping you build a following.
Brian Halligan, founder and CEO of HubSpot, exemplifies this process. He used thought leadership content to help companies build their marketing and sales strategy the HubSpot way, and raised the profile of his business while doing so. HubSpot has reaped the benefits of this strategy; they’re considered one of the top CRMs, and are trusted globally with over 135,000 clients from 120 countries.
6 Steps for building a SaaS thought leadership strategy
But how did they get there? They executed a SaaS thought leadership strategy that delivered short- and long-term rewards, using the following six steps.
1. Define your area of expertise
The first step of a stellar SaaS thought leadership strategy is to not immediately try to cover your knowledge on an entire industry. Narrow your focus to a specific niche within the industry that represents your business’s services or knowledge.
For instance, Kalungi specializes in helping venture-backed SaaS startups achieve T2D3 growth with our proven marketing playbook. If you look at our blog, this is the clear focus of our thought leadership strategy. From SaaS Valuations and Pricing Models to if your SaaS business really needs outsourced CMO services, we cover a wide range of topics without straying from our niche.
That’s because covering your topic of expertise in depth and establishing your brand’s credibility is better than putting out surface-level, low-value content on topics you don’t specialize in. There will always be an expert in these other fields anyway, meaning businesses who take this path will likely lose to them.
2. Define your audience
A SaaS thought leadership strategy is no different from other marketing strategies in that it must be tailored to your target audience. If your B2B SaaS startup is still in the process of defining your audience, that’s okay! There are some steps you can take in the meantime.
First consider what’s drawing the most questions and attention from prospective customers and company stakeholders. What are your employees asking you to clarify every day? What is not clear about your company’s mission, or causing people to question your product or service?
Write content that answers these critical questions first. After all, people are already asking for it, showing there’s demand and valuable takeaways to be had from a SaaS thought leadership strategy that covers these topics.
3. Know your competition
No matter how niche your B2B SaaS thought leadership strategy is, don’t dismiss what competitors are doing. Scroll through their content and SEO strategy to see what they’re writing about and ranking for, to identify gaps in their content strategy that you can fill.
You can even mention competitors directly in your thought leadership strategy to explain why your company’s position in the industry is different. Many business leaders make the rookie mistake of avoiding doing this for fear of directing their audience to their competitors. However, most prospects are already comparing market options, so by doing the work for them, you can become a trusted guide. Not convinced? Read our blog on 5 reasons to mention competitors in your B2B blog.
4. Get creative
Now that you’ve defined your strategy, it’s time to start executing it. Make it a priority to create high-quality articles, whitepapers, videos, reports, podcasts and more. The options are truly limitless here.
Make sure that all this content is updated regularly. A content calendar can help you keep your SaaS thought leadership strategy organized and timely. Just remember that quality reigns supreme over quantity, as generic content may help you garner keyword rankings but will not enable a thought leadership role within your niche.
To avoid this conundrum, make sure that each piece of thought leadership you publish is valuable and forward-thinking. Beyond directly answering the questions of your prospects, some ways to do this include:
- Taking a hard stance on an industry assumption
- Using newly released data to create fresh, evidence-led reports or whitepapers
- Or making a complex industry issue easy to understand with simpler terms
5. Publish on various platforms
When publishing content for your SaaS thought leadership strategy and getting it out into the world, you don’t have to limit yourself to your company blog. Consider reposting thought leadership articles to social media and online publishing platforms like Medium. To target publishing platforms for SaaS thought leadership articles specifically, consider publications like Inc Magazine and Tech Crunch.
Alternatively, it can be highly beneficial to byline guest articles or posts on other company’s platforms to broaden your reach to new audiences. Identify opportunities for you to contribute to these company’s thought leadership strategy while promoting your own. To make this idea a reality, pitch your thought leadership idea and why you’re the optimal industry expert to contribute a piece on this topic. Some websites may even have a “contribute” application on their website that you can apply to.
However, maybe you don’t need a new audience. Perhaps you hold the audience you want to reach in your company’s internal contacts. In this case, a newsletter can help you tap into your internal content database. Think of a newsletter as a mini-magazine for your subscriber's base—one you can customize to offer a content experience that’s highly curated for their needs.
Finally, don’t forget about another form of content that’s literally made to be shared: video content. Send SaaS thought leadership to your videographer to see if they can create an interactive video and post to platforms like:
- And Youtube
If you don't have a videographer and are looking for something low budget, go onto those same social media platforms and do a Live video. This is a great opportunity to interact with your audience and answer questions in real-time. Additionally, be sure to record all live content that your company creates for a quick win you can reshare on social media platforms and high-conversion website pages to help close sales deals.
6. Never stop learning
Last but not least, to execute a successful thought leadership strategy, you must remain a thought leader. To do this, promote a workplace culture that supports a growth mindset. Stay on top of the latest industry developments, trends and skills, and encourage your team to do the same to ensure you’re always looking forward.
A couple ways to promote a culture of continuous learning at your workplace are to:
- Define career paths for all roles
- Ensure the hierarchy of your workforce offers employee mentorship and advancement opportunities
- Hold masterclasses
- Offer continuing education credits
The opportunities here are limitless, and your employees will thank you for them as you build a workforce of thought leaders who can advocate for your company’s mission.
Lighten the work of SaaS thought leadership with Kalungi
SaaS thought leadership is no easy task, but when done effectively, there’s no greater way to engage with your audience.
Content marketing thought leader, Liz Willits, puts it best: “A content marketer's job is NOT to create content. Their job is to turn your company into an industry thought leader. And to flip the buying relationship. So that your company doesn't need to chase down leads. Instead, leads come to YOU.”
If your B2B SaaS company targets a specific industry niche, there’s no doubt that you have the expertise you can leverage to stand out among competitors. Now’s the time to show it off.
Kalungi’s B2B SaaS marketing agency can help you strategize and execute a thought leadership strategy designed to keep your brand at the forefront of your audience’s mind when they’re making a purchasing decision. The best part? We’re performance based to ensure you get the results you want. Contact our team to learn how we can help your business build a results-driven thought leadership strategy.