People don’t like being marketed to, and are turning away from overly promotional messages. As the stakes are moving higher for sales teams to reach decision-makers, marketers are tasked with driving engagement and opportunity in an increasingly crowded marketplace of ideas.
- Audiences are looking to engage at an intellectual, social and emotional level with companies and brands. This is particularly true in B2B marketing where companies sell to highly specialised and educated groups and individuals.
- To reach these elusive B2B targets, companies often aim for ‘thought leadership’. However there are vast differences in theory and practice. All too often, this refers to age-old tactics such as placing bylines / op-eds in trade media publications.
- In the technology industry, content assets are often too technical and fail to connect product marketing messages with customers’ problems in the real world. Instead we are telling a story of continuous self-improvement in speeds and feeds.
True thought leadership starts with insights into major trends, policy or industry changes, allowing those companies that identify seismic shifts first to educate the market and appear as a thought leader. You have to be quick because your competitors will be seeing your programs as do your customers and prospects, so you need to stay ahead of the curve as you’re executing your campaign from awareness through to demand generation.
During my time at Hitachi, I saw the opportunity in the changes to the Privacy Act in 2014, and later, the updates to privacy and data breach legislation in the European Union and Australia for this new type of thought leadership.
Deploying a carefully planned mix of Marketing, PR and digital tactics as part of an integrated marketing strategy, the campaign was able to drive discussions with influencers, partners and customers at a more senior level and elevate brand perception from a technical to a business solutions provider.
What do you think, do we need more ideas to spark thought leadership in marketing?