Steps for Thought Leadership with Huge or Tiny Budgets

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Dan Sanchez talked to Matthijs Van den Broek who is the head of Thought Leadership for WUA about what thought leadership can look like on a tiny or massive budget.

They discuss:

  • Matthijs' experience creating thought leadership for WUA for 5+ years
  • What he would do if he had to start over from scratch at a small company
  • What he would do if his boss 10x his budget

Yeah, welcome back to BBB growth, I'm dan Sanchez, friends call me dan says and I'm here with Matthew Van den broek, who is the head of Thought Leadership at Woah and today I'm continuing the journey into the topic of Thought leadership marketing. If you're just joining us in this deep dive we're doing in the month of june today then just know that I've, if you haven't been following me to be growth for a while, it's like I've been fascinated with this idea of thought leadership and I've been waiting just to do a deep dive on an interview practitioners, interview vendors, interview experts and interview actual thought leaders as well as probably give a few thoughts of my own along the way. I think this topic is very divisive, People don't like this topic sometimes, but a lot of people are still looking for it are still asking about it and that's because honestly I find that thought leadership is really important. It really works especially And AB two B context. Yet there's a lot of people who would say that thought leadership isn't even a thing that it's really just expertise that it's just a buzzword and I'm trying to do this thought leadership journey to really unpack that to dig into it. I think it's more than that and I think it's really powerful. So actually today I'm talking to Matthew who's been in it for five years at his company, Being full time thought leadership marketer, he's been doing it, he's not necessarily even like the subject matter expert but he's responsible for making sure he's positioning his company as a thought leader in this space of I believe digital is a digital communication benchmarking, Matthew digital experiences that, right, so it's digital experience, it'll experienced benchmarking which is fascinating, could be its own show in itself. But today we're here to just talk about thought leadership. So Matthew, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me then. Much appreciate it. Absolutely. I was just talking to him about what we're gonna be talking about in this interview and what I stumbled upon, what I'm fascinated to kind of unpack is what being five years into this position or for over five years and I'm curious to hear what Matthew would do if he had almost no budget and was starting over from scratch as well as like if it was times of plenty and he was, if Ceo walked into his office and been like Matthew I'm going to 10 x your budget, give us the best bang for our buck as far as thought leadership is just concerned because it's working and I want 10 times more maybe they had just landed around a VC funding and knew that this was the route they wanted to go, what would that look like. So, but let's start off on the small end Matthew, if you were starting over at a small, maybe tech tech company and you were tasked with creating thought leadership for them company, I'd be interested to hear what would be some of the first couple of steps you would take in order order to get that started. Yeah. So I would definitely, if you, if you have to start small and have limited budget, you definitely start by looking around what, what's already there. So the human capital that is already within the organization and...

...that you might want to unlock and that's also how I am, how I started at you are we just take a look at the data and all the research that we already provide and see what stories are already there and unleash those stories to uh, the most relevant public that we that we could find. So I think if you want to start small and you have limited budgets, you'll you'll start to see what what people already can do. So you see the talent, the talent that with the people who are on the, on the payroll and you could definitely organize events or webinars or or small knowledge platforms or communities on on linkedin. There's so much out there that is free to go. But I think critical success factories, do you have compelling and relevant content that people want to read or listen or watch? And that's where uh in my opinion, a great story and and good content marketing. Start it starts it all starts with great content and then uh the distribution phase and the scaling up phase and the frequency phase of your of your most interesting articles. That's step two or step three or step four. That makes a lot of sense. So essentially you kind of go and do like an audit of the organization. You find out what content is already been written that just hasn't maybe gotten enough exposure yet. What subject matter experts do we already have access to if we're going to be creating thought leadership content. I'm curious to hear. Like is there a step you take before you go do that? But did you even find out like what the markets hungry for? Um, what customers are asking about or what, what's considered even thought leadership in that particular industry? If you're not a subject matter expert yet, it would be smart to, to start with. I think it would be starting to start with buyer personas. So who are my customers and uh, what people will I be doing business with? And what kind of or types of content are they looking for? And we did that like uh with the revamp of our website in January 2019, we decided to aim more on on the buyer personas so that sea level and it's marketeers, that's also market researchers, it's you exercise. And it's also the web analytics uh kind of guys at this moment and girls of course. So that would be uh smart to to talk to your sales people or people who have a lot of customer contact. So how do how do you buy a personas look like? And what types of content are they interested in? So serve the right target audience with the right with the right message. That would be a good start when you when you want to craft...

For leadership program. And if you wanna, especially in B2B, you might want to have, you might have not won just one stakeholder, but multiple stakeholders before uh the seal the deal is done, and you want to convince all those stakeholders that you're the relevant company and with the right tools to work with. So I think that that would be smart to do to diversify your your content before you start, uh publishing it makes a lot of sense. So essentially we do a little bit of work, we established the personas, figure out what kinds of questions are asking, figure out what are the essentially, I guess what thought leadership, you're really looking for gaps in the knowledge, right? Because it's not your thought leadership is usually a new idea, something that's pushing forward the boundaries that haven't existed before. Um So you're looking for gaps, you're looking for what's relevant to the customers and then um doing inventory of the company, establishing what pieces are we already providing. Because you don't want to have to reinvent the wheel and then getting, do you like try to repackage those who just get them in front of people in different ways before you start creating new content? How does that work well if you were packaging? Yes. In a way. But the business we're into is is so customer experience benchmarking. It means we uh we compare sales funnels and we benchmark sales funnels and we tell our clients what is the best the best sales for. Not there are the best customer journey there and what you can learn from your competitors in a way. So it's a it's a kind of a mystery shopping on steroids, what we what we do and digital and strategic decisions on on on budgets are made by sometimes by sea level, but C. Level people are more more into the strategic questions. And I want to have a management summer we've with clear KPs. But the market researcher uh they want that the research is done in a proper way that it's uh that it's valid that it's trustworthy. It is repetitive and that the outcomes are just clear and and sure, so other uh we we we have a product that is suitable for all layers who are working with Digital within the organization, but they're looking at other aspects of our products. So we created in the past, we created uh storylines about digital excellence and the digital excellence part really for the for the C. Level, people who are looking at Digital at a more strategic in a more strategic way. And they just they want to have the KPs go up and I wanna see an uplift in uh...

...in online sales volumes. But how you how the product works and how you how you can make a deep dive into what customers are saying about your website uh compared to the competition. That's not not directly relevant for those people. And if you know that, then you can craft your message in in another way. And yes, that also means that uh sometimes you recycle content a bit because the message for the C. Level people is also aspiring for the people working under the those uh sea level or our management boards. So definitely it's good to see what's already there. And also recycle it a bit. But you don't want to copy paste too much because then if you copy paste too much, then you get not the SEO ranks and the find ability that you that you want to have. So it's also a threat to uh to recycle too much, I think. Yeah, I do like, I mean, I like recycling contents. I find that people need to hear things over and over and over and over again before it sinks in, right? Especially if you have a really powerful concept. Yeah, but again, you have to mix it up a little bit, you know? So I love it that you have all this research to pull from. Now. I'm curious to know like how do you repackage it? What's your favorite, like, especially if you're in a low budget situation, do you try to get it into writing? Do you try to get it into video form? Infographic? Like what's kind of like your favorite medium to go with? Just to start, wow, We're based in Amsterdam. So we're a Dutch company founded by Dutch cheese. So my my favorite recycling is translation, so I can publish the original content within the Dutch language area, that's not, not too too big, but we're talking about 20 million people or something or maybe a bit more. So if I translated to uh us English, then i it cost me uh some, but not not that many, and I have an original content in my head, um it's, of course, of course it's exactly the same, but it delivers me directly a broader, broader audience. And it also means that I can can recycle it and have the double amount of use just by translating it. So that's the most, most easy part of content recycling and reusing a content from my perspective. The other way is what we, but we also uh did the first steps is we have a podcast since half year, or uh we did now nine episodes. And what I'm also trying to do is uh...

...get the most important and most interesting parts per topic out of the podcast and create white papers out of out of bed. And that's what I I tried that with with external writer. His ideas were really good, but I had to I still have to follow up on that on that project. But it's also really interesting because he proposed to add if there's any new episode on your podcast To also renew the white papers and publish it when it's like seven or 8 or nine pages long. And that's really interesting from from recycling perspective because it just it's it's a it's a machine, it just keeps on feeding with new new pieces of original content and I think original content and original ideas, be it that you have derived those original ideas from front runners in the digital industry. So persons or people you interview, just like we're doing now, that doesn't matter, That is what counts when you're we're talking about for leadership. So that's also really interesting. Uh and we also once created a book that we did, it did the interviews in Dutch, and I translated the whole book to uh to english, and uh we printed it in 2.5 1000 copies, but we also uh had it available for download in english on our website. So it's also created a lot of, a lot of leads, so that's also a way of uh of content recycling and distribution and getting it together and then ripping it apart again. So yeah, sometimes the smaller pieces of content add up to a bigger to a bigger piece of content, and it can be a white paper or a book or or an event or seminar man, that's fascinating idea. Taking smaller pieces to make a bigger piece. We usually do the opposite here sweet fish by taking a bigger piece, like a longer interview like this one and then break it up into a bunch of smaller pieces. But I can definitely see reverse engineering and going the other way. Yeah, that's actually something I'm thinking about doing this series is turning not a lot, I've done a lot of original research myself, but taking parts of these interviews and turning it into a book that we created as a sweet Fish playbook for thought leadership. But I'm already thinking along those lines and I think you shared this idea with me even last time we talked way back in the fall, they kind of circle back around though too, picking channels to publish your thought leadership in. It sounds like you're mostly going with written content because it's easier to like turn written content into different languages and then sometimes the audio content as a next next step for your, your channels. Um, I'd be curious to know like if you're, if you're translating a lot of the written content, are you also translating audio content? Like what language are you recording in? And then are you posting...

...two episodes, one for different like or three episodes one for different languages? Like how are you handling language when it comes to podcast? Yeah, So we don't subtitle the podcast. What we do now is just recorded in english and that's it. We do it for the videos we published on linkedin. So when a new study comes out, we, we present the study findings in a, in a dashboard and we present the high level findings of those of those study results in a short, uh, well a bit long at this moment, but we're trying to bring it back in in time, video on, on Lincoln. And we subtitled, uh, sometimes it's the, it's the languages in dutch and then we subtitle it in a translation in, in english. But what we try to do most of the times is to directly record the video in uh, in english and then have it subtitled also in english, so that people also can read uh, and don't have to plug in the any, uh, any airports or something. We didn't reverse the audio from english to, to touch because that's a lot of effort for a smaller language language area and I can, I can only make sense. I've had people ask me about it and I'm like, I don't have a good answer on that, customers asked me, I've had a few people in Lincoln like, how do you deal with languages? I'm like, I'm usually just doing english and distributing in english. That makes sense. That I would want to try to figure how to do it um, in different languages, I'm gonna have even wondered like if you're gonna distribute content via podcasting in different languages is better to have different episodes on the same episode or even split it out into different podcasts is kind of a thing. I would be interesting. It will be interesting to, to, I think that the spanish have not figured it out. Well, well, the spanish language area is of course also really, really, really big. So it would be, maybe it would be interesting also for you guys that beat, we grew up to do it in to have spanish episodes. Why not? It's huge. But then then you also have to have people who are who are natively or really, you got to think about your customer service teams and all that kind of stuff to work backwards and the languages, you know, that's something you guys have to think about and you're probably a little bit more but certainly symptom we're thinking more out here more. So we've kind of covered like what you would be doing in a smaller company if you're just getting started and what you're doing at your current organization. Um But I'd love to hear like if your boss walked in and gave you 10 X the budget to expand it, would you do something different or would you just scale what you're currently doing and make it more like tell me about what that would look like? Yeah, I I think I would definitely scale what we're what we're doing because when I started at this company I I came from uh I have a publishing and journalism background. So I really like the publishing part of the whole media...

...media game. And I really see ourselves also really as a as a publisher of data and of qualitative. Really really good and professional too high professional standards insights on digital customer experience. So I I would definitely what I'd love is that everybody every company who wants to sell something online worked with us in the future. So I would definitely scale what we what we do what we do now and increase the budget for translations, increase the budget for editing. And I would really love to see are we now have research team of uh 11 digital research consultants. So there they studied neuropsychology or psychology or economics or or marketing and what we what we what I really would love is that they can only have two that, that they can check the content that is created by by external riders, so that you can scale up all the, all the things you already do and that, that just costs a lot of money to get professional riders who are skilled, who are flawless in their in their english and you also, I don't wanna have to check on what they've written, but you just know that it's that it's good from a language perspective of them, and I would I would definitely scale the distribution part. So, what we now do is we, we advertise a lot on on linkedin and we targeted on specific, specific job job groups or on people who are in the industry of finance, in the Netherlands, who are responsible for the mortgage or personal loan journey. You can easily target them on, on linkedin. But there are all around the planet. There are people who are doing that job at different banks and we want to reach them with all our research because really relevant for them, and if the data is not relevant for them, they should give us a call or drop us an email and say, hey, can you do this study for me in Portugal because I want to have a data of my own, uh, of the country I'm responsible for. So the scaling up about everything we did in the last year was getting the company ready to ready to skill. So that is the mantra of this year. And it's also for that, that's from the business perspective. So getting the organization ready to uh, to maximize the amount of studies we do in the next year, but it's also for the, for the fault leadership efforts and for our messages. We uh, we push to the, to the world, I want to have more more of what we already do because it's really, I...

...think original research is the way to go to uh, to be, to be and stay relevant in this uh, in this era of, of info overload. So, um, and what I would do is because that's really also tends to be expensive in a way, uh, have more more on video marketing and create a Youtube channel and have it have it optimized for SEO purposes. And so that we can also be really that we can all that we get found more easily in what is the biggest, the second biggest search engine of the world. And we, yeah, we tend to forget that Youtube is that's that, that Youtube is the second biggest search engine of the world and, and we now don't don't do a lot of Yeah, yeah, but we we we we don't have that at this moment. And it's also, of course it's also priorities. But it's also uh, yeah, money and have an agency who helps you with that for content. We have already a translation and editing agency helping us with that. Its content to its based in the Netherlands and Amsterdam also, that's also already really nice in my idea of of of getting skills that you have a flexible set of professionals who write better than you. That that you can just ask to write content piece X or Y and they just do it and deliver it on time and stick to their deadlines. I really love that. Yeah. Hey, everybody Logan with sweet fish here. If you've been listening to the show for a while, you know where big proponents of putting out original organic content on linked in. But one thing that's always been a struggle for a team like ours is to easily track the reach of that linked in content. That's why I was really excited when I heard about Shield the other day from a connection on, you guessed it linked in since our team started using Shield. I've loved how it's led us easily track and analyze the performance of our linkedin content without having to manually log it ourselves. It automatically creates reports and generate some dashboards that are incredibly useful to see things like what contents been performing the best and what days of the week are we getting the most engagement and our average views per post, I highly suggest you guys check out this tool. If you're putting out content on linked in and if you're not you should be. It's been a game changer for us. If you go to shield app dot ai and check out the 10 day free trial. You can even use our promo code B two B growth to get a 25% discount again. That's shield app dot Ai And that promo code is B the number two de growth. All one word. All right. Let's get back to the show. So I definitely hear you want to build a...

...writing team? Maybe have an editor can like editing and kind of moderating that writing team. Right? Maybe a small video team if if it was 10 X the budget. Right, definitely. Would you add like a subject matter expert to the mix that could do nothing but talk or would you go and find just find external subject matter experts in order to get more data from Or would you just depend on the benchmarks you already have? I almost wonder if like 10 x the budget, I'd almost be hiring someone that was nothing but the idea guy or a girl, you know looking at the data and then just I pretty much just put a microphone in front of that person, just be like talk will be turned into a lot of articles or something like that. Well uh if you if you take a look at how Forrester Research company did that in the last years. They had keynote speakers all over the, all over the place and when those keynote speakers became successful they left Forrester so it's Jeremiah o yang brian solis chillingly just burn off to name a few. They all uh that was the strategy of first to get the first message across and they did nothing. They did exactly what you, what you said. And they also were principal consultants, of course, so they did the probably, I don't know, I've never worked at first and also didn't talk to them the last couple of years. But but what they did is is just get the get a really inspiring story online or digital or on well board, board level uh, strategic stuff that people found relevant. And they wrote books about it and they and they were all over the place in the last last decade. And that's really, really smart. But it's also of course costing a lot of money in a way because it's not always directly delivering dollars or, or bottom line euros. But that's a really interesting strategy uh, strategy to go. But I think that you have to have a bit of a scale in your organization to to adapt to that strategy. But in small, we're already doing that because our our our ceo is now more becoming the the guy who gets the uh boom message across uh talking about digital excellence at at big uh Fintech, uh I was ATF innovate, innovate europe in the last uh in november. So he's already getting the stages and in the in the in the Netherlands were already delivered keynotes by are researchers, researchers sometimes with clients in duo duo presentation. And they get on the on the speaking platform because uh they also love to of course they wanna...

...they wanna shine with their expertise, but it's also really interesting as a professional to do those uh performances. Um so in small, we already uh we already did it, but um if you have 10 times the budget, then uh probably you can hire more research consultants who spend more time on those guest appearances and fly around the world to get the message across. If Covid, Covid is gone then probably uh we will again fly around the world and and and take some more international also create a more international footprint there. But to be honest that costs a lot of Yeah I definitely think I think you're right and that the bigger piece would be the publishing team, the writing and publishing team. Right? Because there's probably your company already has subject matter experts. The time is actually converting their expertise into thought leadership, converting their ideas into something that people can actually read and consume. Because I don't know I find that subject matter experts are usually not the best writing and like presenting. So having a so a journalist especially a team with the journalistic background is going to be able to take and turn a lot of those ideas into something they just consumed a lot more what what what what we see at our company is that they are rock stars in presenting and they are also uh rock stars in writing. But they at this moment they're not that they don't have most of the time, they don't have time to do it because they're working for demanding clients and it's totally appropriate that they are demanding because they just want one of the best and they can get it. But it costs a lot of time to serve them. So it's it's also uh and what I can't do it all, you better to have your expertise pushing pushing the way forward and having somebody else doing the thing that you can hire them out for. Yeah or or you you should. And that's also what I would definitely do if you uh if I if I would have had 10 times the budget, I would definitely push the budget towards the research team. And also towards uh to get maybe to come to agreement of 20 or 30, of your time comes in is reserved for content marketing purposes. And be it a podcast, be it a white paper, be it a blog article being the keynote speech at a big webinar, It doesn't matter. But that's something that that is. I'm working on that every day to get to get the to get that message across. And yes, it does really matter what kind of people what kind of D. N. A. That's you have inside you if you're an introvert...

...or an extrovert. And and then what I would say is that you have to cherish that and and see how you can contribute instead of saying this is, this is nothing, this is nothing for me. And let me just do some, let me just do the client berg, that's a really big shift were making at the company also that everybody can contribute in a way and I'm facilitating, uh, that they can contribute so everything, everything is possible. Yeah. My last question is following up on video. I actually find video to be very fascinating. I do have in my, my like, I guess I don't even have it written down, but in my mental roadmap for sweet fish media to push hard into Youtube Within the next year or two. I think YouTube is going to get bigger, even though as big as it is already. I'm like, I don't know, I'm predicting that it's going to be twice as big in 10 years. But though I'm curious to hear like, why are you going into Youtube? Like what's your hypothesis in video and Youtube specifically? Yeah, I recently saw a presentation of video marketing agency and he said that the how to content is and also the uh, yeah, so how to content is really container is that it's a lot, but that people are just searching for on Youtube tube explore and to do, to do stuff themselves or learn, learn stuff, learned how to do stuff. And I would say that that there is a big chance also uh for us and that if I agree with you that youtube is really big and, and also I think also it's gonna gonna grow uh faster than they just really, really dominant. And we, we forget that people search there. First they go to google and second they go to go to Youtube to search for stuff and video is now so much more easy. It's not it's not all the internet connection speeds are are there five G is coming up? Everybody has a big as powerful uh internet internet speed in the in the in the western world. So that was that was in the past, that was the big problem with video. And then yeah, you just say oh well we can more easily do it in text and it's more uh it's better found in google but we're in a total different different landscape at this moment. So for me also it would be really more logical to get the message out also on on Youtube. And and I think we're also gonna start it somewhere this year just with all the videos that we're now publishing native on on on Lincoln, I'm just gonna upload them all to Youtube and get some...

...advice by the video marketing guys on how to optimize it for S. E. O. Purposes. And then I'm gonna see what happens and it's more or less ashamed. But we didn't already professionalize our, our Youtube channel at this at this moment. So that's a note to self uh this moment. Yeah, I think you're good. I actually think by doing now you're early In my opinion. Like B2B content doesn't do that great on YouTube right now. Real estate didn't do well on Youtube until two years ago now, it's blowing up like, But if you look at the trends of Youtube, the way gen Z interacts with Youtube is very different from millennials, Millennials would go there and reference things all the time, but gen Z like subscribes the channels are like passionate about following every single video from certain creators. So their consumption levels like through the roof compared to millennials and they're just now graduating college, depending on where you put gen Z at. As far as your timeline goes, If you put it at 2000, then there what, 2020 21? So they're 21 they're literally just like, they're in their last year of college, maybe you push it, push it all the way back to 95 but they're just out of college. They haven't yet really started searching for all the stuff that's considered me to be because usually getting into B two B maybe you're studying like marketing in general, in college and you're starting to go through those Crappy YouTube videos that are there. But even like marketing in general, entrepreneurialism is really popular on YouTube. But like B2B content isn't popular yet. Right? As gen Z starts to grow up and starts to do what they do by learning through youtube, they're gonna start looking for me to be content. They're gonna start looking for those deeper things beyond what Neil Patel's posting. So it's going to be bigger and there's going to be more people there and YouTube so far is the only place that like, really pays creators. So I expect that that's going to pan out over the next 10 years. Everybody else just like wants you to give them money to reach your full audience where youtube actually pays you. So I think more and more creators going to go there interesting. They, they've got a, that's my, that's my two cents on youtube anyway, so I think you're, you're not late to the game. Great. That's a, that's a relief for, at this moment. Yeah. Even now I think I have two years before we can still be considered early. One thing I do know about Youtube's, it takes a long time. Like so be prepared to like slog through it for like quite a few years before you start to see traction. Even if you're giving it your best shot, it's a long game. Everybody I've heard that gets successful on Youtube is like, they're like, oh yeah, we just, we knew we were going to make a 3 to 5 year commitment and didn't, we just just decided not to really like we looked at the metrics to optimize of course, but like we didn't let the lack of being having a million subscribers like stop us from producing our best content every week. So it just takes a long...

...time. But those who pay it early. By the time we're getting around 2030, we'll be reaping the rewards. That's, that's my opinion. And I think a lot leadership is going to play a big role in that. Anyway, I have to wrap this up. This has been a fantastic time getting to know you Matthew and getting to know what you would be doing for companies, where they're small or who are growing rapidly and have lots of cash to spend. If people want to learn more and dive into what you've, all the insights you've learned about thought leadership after doing this for over five years. Um where can they go to learn more about you? And your company will uh well best is uh just visit the website and then you can do a global dot com and you get, if you are a new visitor you get you get a pop up with subscribe subscription to our newsletter monthly. And all our data and fresh research is published on our linkedin linkedin page. And that's uh easily found fire fire of a global in in the Lincoln search and in the company a company section. Uh yeah, that would that would be best to say they updated and you can connect with me on linkedin also with otitis funding book. Fantastic again. Thank you for joining me. I'm GDP Growth. Thanks for having me dan Is your buyer at BDB Marketer. If so, you should think about sponsoring this podcast. BTB growth gets downloaded over 130 1000 times each month and our listeners are marketing decision makers. If it sounds interesting, send Logan and email Logan at sweet fish Media dot com.

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