How to Use Associations to Grow Your Brand’s Thought Leadership

Partnering with an association to build your brand’s thought leadership is an effective way to get broader exposure and fill your sales pipeline with qualified leads.

Customers control how and when they buy — often with just a click of the mouse. Potential buyers are already educated about their options and expect vendors to know how to solve their pain points. So, how do you connect with a prospect during their frequently solitary buyer’s journey?

One key strategy is to create well-crafted and relevant thought leadership.

Buyers and decision-makers spend 45% of their “buying activity” doing research, according to Gartner. The education-based thought leadership content differentiates your brand and enables you to actively engage with potential customers as they research the solutions your company offers.

But it's easy to get lost in the noise. The solution? Amplify your thought leadership content by partnering with an association.

Professional associations support their members through networking, advocacy, education, and career development. By plugging into these resources, your thought leadership content can elevate your brand and establish credibility and trust among an association’s members.

The power of thought leadership

If done right, strong content is a powerful selling tool. But to break through, your content has to help the B2B audience solve problems and address their challenges. This is where targeted thought leadership can be a real asset.

Thought leadership content showcases an individual's or organization's expertise and insights within a specific field. Providing new ideas will pique buyers' interest and empower them to make informed decisions. The most influential thought leaders keep the needs of their audience at the forefront. They may share lessons learned from unique professional experiences or offer guidance that deviates from conventional wisdom. Such content can increase the likelihood of a purchase by 2.8 times, according to Gartner.

When creating and implementing thought leadership, a key consideration is how and where to deploy your content for maximum impact on the target audience. Associations offer a unique solution, as their members are usually focused on specific industries and hungry for content that can help with professional development and career enhancement.

When you partner with an association that already has credibility with its members, you can leverage that credibility to your organization's benefit. For example, on top of direct access to membership, thought leaders are often asked to speak at conferences and events. Those appearances increase your industry experts' intellectual standing and offer valuable time to network with potential sales leads.

The top benefits of thought leadership content

Thought leadership can provide specific benefits to your organization and champion its sales growth goals. Here are four examples:

1. Thought leadership positions you as a solution provider

When your organization crafts a thought leadership piece that helps your audience solve a problem, you establish trust as someone who “gets it.” This trust is bolstered every time you offer content that resonates with the audience, such as an innovative new solution or research-backed finding.

Over time, the audience will rely on your organization as a go-to educational resource instead of just a company just trying to sell them something. This engagement can lead to benefits like subscriptions to company newsletters, more social media followers, deeper Google searches, and, ultimately, customer loyalty.

A recent Edleman and LinkedIn study reported 65% of those surveyed said thought leadership content improved their perception of an organization. But, the report also cautioned that the pandemic encouraged a glut of low-quality content, which makes it harder to cut through the noise and connect with prospects. Breaking the bad content cycle makes the need for high-quality thought leadership all the more critical.

2. Thought leadership allows you to build trust

The key to impactful thought leadership is creating content that offers consumers unique industry insight. Of course, you can deliver informational content with calls to action and opportunities for lead generation. Still, it must encourage "Aha!" moments that solve problems and spur new thinking.

Through transparency and authenticity, thought leaders demonstrate their trustworthiness, which helps build stronger relationships and increased influence. For example, in the Edleman and LinkedIn study, 64% of respondents said they thought leadership content was more trustworthy than marketing materials or product sheets in determining an organization's expertise.

The trust thought leaders build is strengthened over time by staying consistent in messaging and delivering valuable business intelligence with every interaction. In addition, by producing high-quality content that demonstrates expertise, thought leaders establish themselves as reliable experts within their industry.

3. Thought leadership shortens your sales cycle

Content is critical in successful inbound marketing programs that funnel warm leads into an organization and move them quickly through the buyer journey. By building strong connections in the marketplace and increasing the visibility of a thought leader's company, thought leadership content removes costly, time-consuming steps from the sales process.

A survey from Sales Fuel found organizations that deliver relevant insights and research on prospects’ problems are more likely to collect sales lead information than those that offer a discount or other promotional offer. In other words, thought leadership delivers a better pipeline of prospects without slashing prices or dealing with the churn that comes from tactics like free trial offers.

4. Thought leadership attracts the right prospects

A well-tailored message speaks directly to a targeted buyer, making content marketing more impactful than advertising copy or other short-form formats that interrupt the buyers’ attention.

The audience that you will build with your content becomes a self-selecting pool of prospects attracted to a needed solution. Prospects who trust a thought leader are primed to build relationships and tend to convert into customers.

Additionally, as the thought leader's profile grows, their messages and content tend to spread quickly via email and social media. That viral, sometimes exponential growth, is more than just free advertising. Your thought leadership content can soon become a powerful generator of potential willing customers by using proper lead-gen techniques in tandem with the content.

How associations can elevate your brand’s thought leadership

Associations have built-in credibility with their members, who self-select by paying annual dues, attending conferences, and looking to the group’s leaders for information about their industry. That lofty position makes associations valuable partners for thought leadership campaigns because they can amplify a message and spread it quickly throughout their member base.

Pairing well-reasoned and thought-provoking content with the right association can also attract outside media attention, delivering the message to pools of valuable prospects.

Because they know the value of thought leadership, many associations that Lead Marvels has partnered with have leveraged our technology to launch a Resource Library featuring helpful resources from advertisers and sponsors. As a B2B advertiser, you can use this unique online platform to elevate your thought-leadership content, connect with association members, and generate warm leads.

An association Resource Library is a branded hub that showcases curated, thought-leadership content primarily supplied by corporate sponsors, industry solution providers, and advertisers. As a one-stop shop for members, it can include white papers, ebooks, reports, podcasts, webinars, and more.

Association members download the thought leadership content by submitting their contact information. The contributing organization then receives the contact information as a warm lead. In addition to getting broader brand exposure and building awareness among a valuable audience, B2B advertisers can leverage a Resource Library to acquire engaged prospects and fill their sales pipeline with valuable prospective buyers.

Cutting through the noise

At Lead Marvels, we’ve partnered with more than 100 associations to launch interactive Resource Libraries on their sites featuring helpful, thought leadership resources contributed by companies like yours.

By contributing to an association’s Resource Library, you have access to a built-in audience of engaged members, many of whom are looking for solutions that you can provide. It’s a smart strategy for cutting through the noise and earning the trust and loyalty of top decision-makers and potential customers.

To learn more about Lead Marvels’ Resource Library program and the associations we’ve partnered with to help drive your company’s growth, join us for a free, no-obligation demo.

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