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How To Make A Business Case For Thought Leadership Content

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Mo Shehu

thought leadership business case

Build a convincing business case for thought leadership content with our 5-step guide.

Table of contents

Thought leadership content helps you build brand authority, attract new prospects, engage and retain customers, and differentiate your brand.

If you’re a marketing or content leader in a B2B niche, you’ve likely identified a strong need for thought leadership content for your organization – if not to get ahead, then at least to not fall behind the competition.

But investing in thought leadership can be costly and time-consuming, with little to no direct impact on your pipeline for months.

And while ‘traffic,’ ‘impressions,’ and ‘media placements’ are nice, your leadership team ultimately speaks the language of finance.

Let’s help you speak their language and get the resources you need.

5 steps to making a strong business case for thought leadership content

To secure the necessary resources, you’ll need to show how investing in thought leadership content will benefit the organization’s goals.

The following five steps apply:

  1. Identify the need for thought leadership
  2. Align with business goals
  3. Propose a budget
  4. Estimate the return on investment
  5. Show successful examples

Let’s explore each of these in turn.

Identify the need for thought leadership – and lead with data

As you prepare your business case, start by explaining why thought leadership content is important to the business. 

Lead with compelling data and examples to secure the trust of your leadership team.

It’s important to show that your proposal is based on evidence, not just assumptions.

For example, you could present data showing that 53% of buyers say it’s important for new and small companies to produce thought leadership if they want buyers to consider working with them, according to a LinkedIn survey

Or let’s say your company operates in the tech industry. 

You could highlight how thought leadership articles on emerging technologies have attracted lots of new visitors to competing websites, as tracked by tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush.

By leading with examples and evidence, you set a factual and persuasive tone for your entire proposal.

Align your request with business goals

Thought leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it changes based on your organization’s growth stage.

You’ll need to show how the content will help achieve specific business goals, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or improving customer retention.

For instance, if your company’s current goal is lead generation, explain how well-researched articles on industry trends can attract high-quality leads who are searching for insights in your niche.

The more clearly you can draw a line between thought leadership activities and the company’s goals, the better.

Propose a budget

Outline the resources needed, including budget, time, and personnel. Be specific about the direct and indirect costs.

For example, you could start by estimating the cost of hiring a freelance writer for content creation.

But good writing needs good design, so don’t forget to account for the cost of a freelance designer (if hiring externally) or the time your in-house designer will need to dedicate to the project.

For thought leadership content in other formats like webinars, you may need to account for the time requirements, cost of software, and cost of content distribution.

Estimate the return on investment (ROI)

Provide realistic estimates of the potential ROI from thought leadership content.

This could include metrics like increased website traffic, lead generation, or sales.

For instance, you might project that publishing a series of white papers could result in a 20% increase in website traffic, a 10% increase in lead conversions, and $100k more in quarterly sales.

Try to present this data as a ratio based on the estimated budget from the previous step.

For example, if your thought leadership program will cost $20k per quarter for expected revenue of $100k, that’s a 5x ROI.

Showcase successful examples

Leadership teams are risk averse. Showing that something has been done elsewhere successfully increases your chances of getting it approved.

Try to present examples of successful thought leadership from similar industries or competitors. 

Where possible, highlight the positive impact it had on their business.

For example, you could illustrate how a company similar to yours increased its social media following by 50% after launching a thought leadership blog, leading to greater brand visibility and customer engagement.

Or show how a pre-seed startup was able to raise significant venture funding after a series of thought leadership interviews.

The more real-life examples you can use to make your case, the better. 

Best practices for making a strong business case

There are a few more tips around requesting thought leadership resources that can increase your chances of getting approved. 

Prepare a detailed plan that includes your objectives, target audience, content themes, and content distribution strategy. 

For example, outline a six-month content calendar that includes blog posts, white papers, and webinars aimed at addressing common industry challenges.

Use clear, simple language that’s straightforward and jargon-free. Make it easy for decision-makers to understand the benefits.

Present data and evidence to back up your claims. This could include statistics on the effectiveness of thought leadership content, case studies, and other examples of success. 

For example, 65% of buyers say thought leadership significantly changed the perception of a company for the better.

This stat (and others) can help convince your leadership team of the importance of investing in thought leadership.

Lastly, be ready to answer questions that decision-makers might have. 

Prepare to discuss how you will measure the success of your thought leadership initiatives and adjust your strategy based on performance.

Final thoughts

Making a strong business case for thought leadership content needs a clear strategy that resonates with your leadership team. 

By identifying the need, aligning with business goals, estimating ROI, proposing a budget, showcasing successful examples, and leading with data, you can show the true value of thought leadership. 

Creating a detailed plan and using simple, clear language will further strengthen your case. 

Follow these steps to get the resources needed to help your organization grow.

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