Thought leadership marketing is a trendy concept in B2B marketing. The term thought leadership was first used by Strategy & Business Magazine as a quality attributed to interview subjects who had contributed new thoughts to business. The term has come to mean people or companies who revitalize mature processes with new ideas. More generally it refers to companies that are recognized as deeply understanding their business, the needs of its customers and the wider economic environment in which the company operates.
Thought leadership marketing has established a following with marketers of services, especially professional services since customers cannot directly examine the product and chose vendors based on real or perceived expertise. In other words, reputation.
The five second prescription for thought leadership marketing success is to write a bestselling book, make speeches and have authoritative third parties review your ideas. A more pragmatic plan would include submitting articles to trade journals, speaking at trade shows and conferences, participating on panels and engaging reviewers and others known to write on your industry. Most trade journals (print or online) welcome article submissions that are on-topic. Keep in mind that your mission is to establish yourself as a trusted expert, not a hard sell. An article that reads like a warmed over product brochure won’t cut it.
Those third party reviewers need to be cultivated. Keep in mind that their currency is information and just like other media, “exclusives” are coveted. Consider offering an exclusive on your next product launch. You may not make it into print every time but each encounter will strengthen your share of mind with that reviewer.
Remember that Internet age customers research potential vendors long before buying. Part of the process is reducing the field of potential vendors to a select few. This makes the process more manageable and allows the customer to look at each short-listed offering in greater depth. Your marketing plans should include content that speaks to your position as a thought leader. Your marketing automation system will capture those leads. They may be early in the cycle but you will be well-positioned to be present at the end.
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About Dayna Cosgrove
Danya is a creative professional specializing in web design and development, with experience in marketing, advertising, and graphic design.