26th April 2022

How to harness thought leadership in financial services

What is thought leadership in financial services and how can it be used to support business development? We spoke to KNECTCOMMS’ Kamyar Naficy to learn more.

What is thought leadership and why is it important?

Thought leadership is a type of content marketing that demonstrates authority and expertise in your field. It’s particularly important in banking, capital markets and asset management as these are sectors with rigorous and lengthy decision making processes and technical and complex products and services. In this context, thought leadership is crucial to building a brand, differentiating a business from its competitors and ultimately conveying and showcasing the intellectual capital that underpins the product or service that the organisation provides. Thought leadership can enhance reputation and credibility in the market, generate sales leads, shorten sales cycles and reduce price sensitivity.

Thought leadership also plays an important role in markets undergoing disruption. Innovators can use thought leadership to make a compelling and convincing case for change and advocate for new financial products, business propositions or ways of doing business.

How can businesses use thought leadership?

Effective thought leadership addresses the wants and needs of its audience by answering their questions and exploring solutions to their problems. It’s different to sales material as it does not discuss, or even reference, products or services. It involves consistently developing, curating and promoting a body of knowledge that helps inspire stakeholders to take action.

In large financial institutions, including investment banks and asset managers, thought leadership content used for marketing purposes often comes from economic or equity research teams. The content is then turned into material for clients, prospects, employees and the media by the teams producing the research or by their colleagues in marketing and communications departments. However, businesses that don’t have the benefit of research departments can source thought leadership from anywhere within their organisation, including employees, partners and clients who have knowledge, expertise and a point of view.

What can businesses do to communicate thought leadership?

Businesses should break down ideas, insights and findings into clear content themes, and use those themes to produce various types of content, whether written, audio or visual. It’s important to build out a content development and distribution plan, and editorial calendar, to guide the deployment of the content to the outside world. Companies should use multiple communications channels as each serves a different need. For example, email campaigns are helpful to share key content with clients and prospects, LinkedIn is an effective platform for leadership team members to build their own profile in support of the business, and Twitter can be used to engage journalists with content. In addition, companies can use long-form articles, whitepapers and podcasts to discuss their thought-leadership in more detail. These channels have the benefit of stimulating meaningful engagement and interaction with stakeholders to help better develop and market products. Paid media can also be used to amplify communications and target and build priority audiences.

How do you measure thought leadership?

It can be challenging to measure the efficacy of thought leadership in a business but there are ways to do it. An effective approach is to use a balanced scorecard of quantitative and qualitative measures across both outputs and outcomes. For example, you could measure outputs such as landing page conversion rates, social media engagement, and quality and quantity of media coverage. For outcomes, you could track marketing contribution to pipeline, or marketing qualified leads, and meetings generated. It’s not always possible to track these metrics against competitors but you can do it longitudinally or by comparing various marketing campaigns within your organisation.