Most thought leadership campaigns are anchored around flagship assets. That has traditionally been a report or a white paper that analyses the findings of a major piece of research and is then ‘sliced and diced’ to create a suite of short-form content to keep the campaign going.
It can be tricky knowing how to cut up research into bite-sized pieces that will engage the audience over a sustained period of time. There’s an art to campaign planning, particularly when you want it to last over a year or more, like Price Bailey does with its Inside the Minds of Business Leaders thought leadership programme.
Mel Root, Director of Marketing and Business Development at accountancy firm Price Bailey, shared her experiences of delivering successful thought leadership at a recent event held by the Professional Services Marketing Group (PSMG) at the offices of Howard Kennedy LLP in London.
She was joined at the event by Grist’s Co-founder and Managing Director, Andrew Rogerson – who spoke about the current state of thought leadership and shared insights from our latest report, How the C-Suite View and Use Thought Leadership – and Rebecca Scully, Head of Marketing Communications at law firm Gowling WLG UK.
You can read more about the event in our blog; here, we’ll look in more depth at how Price Bailey achieved its thought leadership success.
The Price Bailey campaign strategy
The Inside the Minds of Business Leaders thought leadership campaign was born when Price Bailey decided to champion the underrepresented sector of owner-managed businesses in the UK. The aim was to target alternative services to audit clients while positioning the firm as a viable alternative to the Big Four.
Inside the Minds of Business Leaders began life as an events series in 2016. The following year, they engaged Grist to adjust the strategy and produce a full thought leadership series around the events, extending the reach of the research and enhancing the return on investment.
For the third iteration of the research, conducted in 2019, the survey base doubled to allow a contrast in findings between high-growth and low-growth firms, also enabling the team to plot results by region. The survey was designed to be easily repeatable for future research campaigns in order to identify trends.
A series of qualitative interviews were completed with leading entrepreneurs, academics and business thinkers, and it was at this point that Price Bailey’s campaigns really took off – the firm had enough to develop content assets that could keep the campaign going for 12-18 months, taking it right up to the next research phase.
Making the most of what you’ve got
The ‘sweating’ of assets began with a look backwards. Knowing that the 2019 research was getting underway, Price Bailey’s team worked with Grist to create a series of ebooks based on the key findings of the previous report. This allowed the Price Bailey team to build on the research and continue the dialogue with its clients, business partners and other industry influencers in the run-up to launching the 2019 research.
The ebooks were designed to be practical guidance and involved a deeper dive into the key issues keeping owner-managed businesses awake at night. The five themes, each with its own ebook, were developed through a combination of additional analysis and interviews with internal and external experts.
While the 2019 campaign is still relatively new, having launched in April, it has been meticulously planned over an 18-month period while allowing enough flexibility to be reactive as well as proactive.
As with the previous iteration, the flagship report was launched with a series of events, where prospects, current customers and referrers were all invited. There is an ongoing series of videos, such as Technology’s double-edge sword, and interviews with experts, social media campaigns, infographics, case studies and Q&A events to keep tapping at the research, drip-feeding information and continuing to engage prospects along the funnel.
The efforts are bearing fruit, too. At the PSMG event, Price Bailey’s Mel Root revealed the opt-in database grew 21.5% post-launch event, with social engagement up 28% on the baseline during campaigns.
Price Bailey achieved this not by getting an increased budget but by making the research work harder within current means. The firm is doing more with existing assets, evolving ideas and not being afraid to try things out to see what sticks. All content drives the reader to another related asset and it’s delivering dividends for the team.
Find out what the C-suite is really looking for in our Value of B2B Thought Leadership Survey reports, available here.