Our predictions for 2017: 5 tips for engaging the audience

Gareth Lofthouse

Throughout December, we’ve been sharing our predictions for the key trends and techniques we think will define B2B thought leadership in 2017.

Last week we shared three trends to watch in thought leadership strategy along with four forecasts on emerging research tools and editorial techniques.

In this post, we shine a light on five tips for engaging the audience; a critical stage of the activation process and an important area all marketers will want to take note of.

Engaging the audience

8. Big ideas will benefit from better activation

All too often, so much focus goes into creating thought leadership content that there is no time left for campaigning. Many marketers also battle through arduous internal approval processes that leave them under pressure to ‘just get it out’. The roll-out plan ends up as little more than some predictable website copy and a handful of bland social posts. In 2017, the best marketers will take their campaign execution to the next level, spending more time crafting original and attention-grabbing campaigns that unfold over several months. This may involve attracting attention with new digital platforms, interactive content, data visualisation, gamification techniques or slick user-interface design. But it doesn’t have to be high tech – even the simplest campaign can grab the spotlight if it is intriguing, surprising and entertaining.
– Stephen Edwards, Senior Editor

 9. B2B marketers will start testing B2C augmented reality

For more than five years, B2C marketers have been testing a variety of augmented reality (AR) tools, such as Blippar and Playme, to find new ways to bring their campaigns to life. Momentum is building: 2014 saw Dublin host what was claimed to be the first-ever AR event for marketers, featuring brands such as Heineken and profiling campaign examples such as Pepsi Max’s bus shelter AR experiment on London’s Oxford Street. So far, AR has been a resolutely B2C phenomenon, but in 2017, B2B marketers will increasingly dip their toes in the water (virtually, at least). Whether adding pop-up animations and videos to static reports, as Barclaycard has done, or bringing trade-show stands and presentations to life in a new way, AR will make its first targeted appearances.
– James Watson, Co-Founder

10. Thought leadership will go omni-channel

You’ve heard of omni-channel in retail and financial services – now get ready to see it as part of your thought leadership strategy. The concept is similar: audiences today consume thought leadership content on their smartphone, their desktop, in print or on an iPad. They will favour different devices at different times of the day, and they may start reading on one channel before switching to another. In addition, a multigenerational audience is likely to have highly divergent consumption habits, with some accessing content via social media and others favouring more traditional distribution. To respond to this trend, marketers need to ensure that they can deliver thought leadership content across a plethora of devices and channels while providing a consistent experience and message.
– Rob Mitchell, Co-Founder

11. Interactive assets will have to offer real insight

Eye-catching infographics and creative animations need to do more than just look good. As audiences crave a more cooperative interaction with thought leadership brands, the creators will begin to realise the benefits of highly interactive content, such as quizzes, calculators and real-time graders and benchmarking tools, as a way to produce deeper and more meaningful engagements with consumers. This interactive storytelling offers audiences a highly personalised and prescriptive presentation of the underlying data and provides an instant return by giving them something valuable they can share and learn from immediately.
– Miles Weiner, Commercial Director

12. Viral thinking: brands will have to make their ideas shareable

Internal comms and staff socialisation will become a key part of B2B content campaigns. Marketing teams will go beyond explaining the rationale and insights behind thought leadership campaigns to providing staff with the tools they need to socialise the initiative within their own spheres of influence. Our own research shows that recommendations and sharing on a personal level is one of the most powerful ways to get your thought leadership noticed.
– Emily Taylor Gregory, Marketing Manager

View FT Longitude’s 12 thought leadership predictions in full on the blog here.

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About the author: Gareth Lofthouse

Gareth manages FT Longitude’s growing commercial team as they continue to advise some of the biggest B2B companies in the world on their thought leadership strategy. He works with clients to design thought leadership that delivers maximum commercial impact, both in terms of building client relationships and improving brand visibility.

Before joining FT Longitude, he spent nine years as editorial director for EMEA at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Gareth was instrumental in building the EIU’s thought leadership and survey business, and he has overseen hundreds of custom projects for the Economist’s clients across a range of industries and subject areas. Before that, Gareth led an editorial and creative team for a PR and marketing agency. He has also held several senior editorial positions in business and technology publishing.

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Our predictions for 2017: Research tools and editorial techniques

PODCAST: Thought leadership trends and predictions 2017

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