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How To Create Content That Leads Niche Discussions



How To Create Content That Leads Niche Discussions

Executives don’t find thought leadership content all that insightful.

A recent Edelman-LinkedIn study revealed that 71% of decision-makers say half or less than half of the thought leadership content they read or watch gives them valuable insights.

How can your brand’s content fall into the half of content that provides valuable insights? Enter ownable conversations – a more intentional and substantive approach to creating thought leadership content.

Ownable conversations are editorial perspectives that highlight a brand’s unique value and category expertise to its audience. As “big ideas,” they allow a range of expert-driven discussions, industry nuances, and clear perspectives that help to increase market awareness and build brand reputation.

More simply, ownable conversations are typically big ideas within your target industry that develop more detailed discussions, industry nuances, and intentional perspectives.

Ownable conversations are your insurance against generic content. Investing in an ownable conversation can help you to:

  • Steal share of voice from competitors
  • Drive increased traffic to your digital properties
  • Retain and engage your target audience
  • Steer clear of the cycle of creating generic content
  • Establish credibility by highlighting your expertise
  • Prime future customers for your products and services

Ownable conversations are your insurance against generic content, says @lieuthi via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

How to create an ownable conversation

Ownable conversations have some key trademarks:


1. Harness something proprietary

Offer audiences something no other brand can – your proprietary information. This often comes in the form of data insights or original research. A study by BuzzSumo and Mantis Research reveals 94% of responding marketers agree “original research elevates their brand’s authority in the industry.”

94% of marketers say original research elevates their brand’s authority in the industry, according to #research from @BuzzSumo and @MantisResearch, via @lieuthi via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

If you’re in a hyper-competitive category or building a new one, original research is one of the fastest routes to making a good impression and establishing your credibility. Consider turning any type of first-party data (anonymized and aggregated) into content. And if you don’t have access to that data internally, you can easily generate it via surveys.

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IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report is a highly anticipated annual report in the IT, technology, or cybersecurity industry — whether you’re an IBM customer or not.

Why it works: A lot of brands and media cover cybersecurity topics, but few have the breadth of experts IBM has who can put that news into context with thoughtful analysis and real-life applications. Against a backdrop of proprietary data, IBM uncovers what makes cybersecurity exciting for the people behind it and what’s next for the industry while emphasizing the brand’s authority in this space.

2. Exhibit your niche expertise

A CMO Council study finds that only 12% of marketers think their content marketing programs reach the right audiences. One possible reason is that brands are failing to serve the content that B2B professionals need. The more niche your expertise, the better. An ownable conversation asks you to meet your audience’s needs by showcasing what you’re uniquely good at. For example, if you’re in digital advertising, which lane within the topic can you drill down into and claim as your area of expertise?

As exemplified in case studies, the niche for Google’s navigation app Waze is in-car advertising. Via this lane of expertise, the brand illustrates its ability to drive awareness, reach new customers, and increase visits to brick-and-mortar stores.

Why it works: Waze offers a unique option for brands to reach their audience. By occupying this niche corner of the market, Waze highlights its competitive difference in a highly fragmented landscape via executions across a suite of content, including case studies, blog articles, and proprietary insights by category.

3. Be innovative

A global B2B study conducted by Edelman reveals 81% of business executives want provocative insights that challenge their assumptions rather than validation of their thinking. An innovative point of view helps your brand stand out and strengthens brand awareness.

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An innovative point of view helps your brand stand out and strengthens brand awareness, says @lieuthi via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Being disruptive should come from a natural place for your brand. Every company has a value proposition, and that value proposition usually has something to do with improving the status quo. Brands should seek to elevate the category rather than merely keep up with the competitors. By doing so, you take a natural leadership position.

GE’s 2017 Balance the Equation campaign was crafted to address the gender imbalance in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries.

Why it works: This GE campaign expertly identified a sweet spot between what was happening culturally (a lack of women in the STEM industry) and GE’s agenda for innovation. While GE had historically been known for innovation in aviation, renewable energy, and other industries, this campaign allowed the brand to emerge as a change-maker and champion of diversity.

By pledging to put 20,000 women in STEM jobs by 2020, the campaign’s unifying message of #BalanceTheEquation increased GE’s share of conversation, as evidenced by several earned media mentions, heightening the brand’s reputation and increasing its appeal as an employer of choice.


Ownable conversations take time

Like any investment in content, ownable conversations take time to build traction. I see three distinct phases – how long each takes is based on your budget and resources.


Ownable conversations take time to build traction. How long? That’s based on budget and resources, says @lieuthi via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Phase 1: Establish the conversation

Identify ownable conversations by locating the gaps in thought leadership content across the customer journey (vertical-specific trends, consumer insights, etc.) and within your category. Create editorial content to show your coverage of these key areas and drive an organic share of voice.

Phase 2: Hone your niche

Find the content within each ownable conversation that drives the highest traffic to your domain and the highest engagement (e.g., time on page, engagement rate). Explore how you can go deeper on those topics and carve out an even more specific corner of the market.

Phase 3: Grow your impact

Extend your reach, build brand salience, and amplify your messages through rich, multi-channel content experiences and campaigns, reaffirming your brand as a leader in your industry landscape and the authority in the category.

Let your content own the conversation

As marketers and content creators, it should be our mission to create the most value we can for our audiences and our brands. But we fail when delivering B2B thought leadership content that doesn’t offer value to decision-makers. We can win the conversation only when we create ownable conversations by elevating our content to meet audiences where they are, with the information they need.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update



Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.


The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

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Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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