Ghostwriting in B2B: fake content or essential thought leadership tool?

Ghostwriting has become a vital part of B2B content marketing. But when does it go beyond legitimate thought leadership and become fraudulent?

b2b content ghost writing

This may not come as a shock to you, but a lot of blogs, articles, and white papers published by influential names in B2B aren’t necessarily written by that person.

Even thought-leadership pieces, where the named author is an expert in their field, are often ghostwritten by a copywriter – either because words aren’t that expert’s strong suit, or they simply don’t have the time to write it themselves.

Matching the best writing with the best expertise is a recipe for great content. But where anyone who’s willing to pay for the goods can commission a copywriter to make them look like a thought leader, there’s also the temptation to pretend you know more than you do.

So, in a bid to rid the world of disingenuous content, here’s a short guide to ghostwriting – why it’s an opportunity for true B2B experts, and why easy thought leadership isn’t something you can just buy.

What can a B2B ghostwriter do, exactly?

Let’s make one thing clear. Ghostwriting is a perfectly acceptable thing to do in B2B content marketing.

In fact, it’s invaluable for people who have a lot of important stuff to say, but little time to write it. Or who may be super smart, but simply don’t have a way with words.

Done well, ghostwriting helps to ensure we get to read interesting, engaging stuff from the real thought leaders – not just people who happen to write well, and have time on their hands.

Consider a day in a life of a CEO. They’re extremely busy, and barely have enough time as it is. And while they may have the drive to write their own content, they just don’t have the time. Or think about a product specialist, who knows absolutely everything about their subject, except what a non-expert would find interesting.

That’s where a ghostwriter is essential.

A thought leader can brief a writer on a subject – even if it’s just their big idea, or a brain dump of what they know. A good copywriter who understands the audience can find the angle, and present it in a way that reflects the true views and deep knowledge of the expert, and also chimes with their real voice.

You get the piece they would have written, but sharper and more engaging. (And actually written instead of still in their head.)

Critically, because it’s based on the expert’s real knowledge and opinions, the content says something that no one else is really talking about, or that contains genuinely unique insight.

Why can’t we all be thought leaders?

Simply, to be a thought leader, you need to know your subject inside out. You need to have insights that other people don’t have.

As a B2B technology copywriter, I’ve amassed a broad enough knowledge to write confidently about enterprise tech, and translate someone else’s knowledge into a decent piece of copy. With a solid brief, a call, and some desk research, I can soon write in a confident way on even a niche subject. On a good day, I can make the real thought leader look like a writer as well.

But I’m still far from a thought leader in anything.

Without that crucial insight from a real expert, my best content is still only going to be a rehash of views and information that’s already available in the world. It won’t add any value. It’s not thought leadership.

Faux thought leaders: why ultimately, the frauds lose

If a specialist copywriter can produce something decent from their own knowledge, why aren’t people pretending to be thought leaders in the pursuit of new business?

The short answer is, they are. And it’s a really big problem in B2B technology. Faux thought leaders passing themselves off as experts, while copywriters do the leg work of re-presenting old thoughts as if they’re new.

As a result, the internet is awash with blogs and articles which merely repeat what’s already being said. It’s disingenuous, and it contributes to the noise that makes the B2B internet such an annoying place to be.

Happily, though, the phoney thought leaders are usually wasting their money.

Fake thought leadership (the kind without any leading thoughts) is easy to spot. And not only does it reflect badly on the brand or person it represents, but when it comes to actually deliver the goods, they simply can’t.

I’ve got the knowledge, but no time. Help me.

Perfect – that’s what we like to hear. We’ll bet you have a tonne of insight ready to be put down onto paper, and copywriters are here to help.


Further reading…

When is thought leadership NOT thought leadership?

It seems like everybody wants to be a thought leader these days. But when is thought leadership just… window dressing? Let’s get to the bottom of this.


Nick developed his copywriting skills in retail, e-commerce, and politics, writing for brands like John Lewis, Tesco, and IHG – and even Members of Parliament and the House of Lords. Today, he’s a favourite among our public sector, retail, and cloud computing clients for his ability to translate complex subjects into audience-relevant and reader-friendly content.

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