Ideas for Thought Leadership Development: 4 Questions to Ask Your CEO

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Thought leadership has grown in prevalence as B2B marketers recognize its value through the purchase funnel. Even to the extent that a 2020 study by SurveyMonkey found thought leadership is “top priority” for two-thirds of marketers. However, only 26% of marketers consider their current thought leadership program to be “very successful.”

Most marketers prioritize thought leadership. But why do such a small amount consider their strategy to be successful? 

Fortunately, developing ideas for thought leadership doesn’t require an entirely new strategy. Most B2B SaaS leaders have a wealth of untapped knowledge to make a great story. It all comes down to asking the right questions. 

The significance of story mining

PANBlast uses story mining to uncover insights from key executives — including CEOs — when developing robust thought leadership campaigns. While there’s value in exploring insights from all team members, CEOs act as a natural north star to guide growth and evolution — so they should likely be on the media front lines, gilding the messaging. 

CEOs are uniquely positioned to represent their business’s core values directly from the source. This is, in part, due to their integral role with an organization.

Story mining questions to ask your CEO

Below, we’ve laid out a few questions to get started for those who have not yet conducted a story mining session and why they’re important to ask.

Question #1: Tell us about your career path so far. What inspired you to enter the industry, and what led you to your current position?

It’s essential to keep your opening question as general as possible when looking to uncover new stories. Ask about a CEO’s background and what led them to their company. This lets them steer the conversation to a topic that resonates most. Once this topic is identified, it allows for more probing, in-depth questions throughout the session. 

Question #2: What are the biggest pain points/concerns your industry is facing right now? 

Challenges exist within every industry. And CEOs are always looking for the latest problem-solving tactic. Knowing what your CEO sees as top pain points in their industry can lead you to valuable insights on how to overcome them, thus the opportunity to position them as the subject matter expert.

Question #3: What are your short- and long-term growth plans for your business? 

Understanding a CEO’s goals and projections will help you explore potential story angles for company growth and business leadership. It also gives you a sense of where to set priorities in verticals and messaging

Question #4: Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5-10 years?

CEOs always think ahead about the direction of their company and the industry at large. This forward-thinking gives them a unique and sometimes surprising perspective on how their industry is evolving and why. And a hot take on any industry’s future is always relevant, regardless of the timeframe.

Developing ideas for thought leadership should be a strategic process. Questions for CEOs should remain as broad as possible, as the job requires them to focus on the bigger picture and an organization’s overall direction. 

Those conducting story mining sessions need to have a solid understanding of the B2B SaaS CEO role and the conversations happening within a specific industry. Then, the most relevant and timely information can be gained from an interview. After this, you’ll be armed with all the insights you need to develop a powerful CEO thought leadership strategy. 

Interested in learning more about how to leverage story mining? Contact Lindsey Gropper to learn how PANBlast can help.