Too often, B2B marketers fail to recognize that their own thought
leadership is essential to market leadership. The top companies – Microsoft,
SAP, Accenture, Cisco, IBM – recognize this fact and tend to invest heavily in
thought leadership activities.


They invest in market-clarifying research, give powerful and compelling presentations,
write insightful positioning papers, profile their
clients in interesting ways,
author books and articles, and distribute newsletters that deepen
relationships
.

Clients and prospects look to them for vision, perspective and a strategic
framework for future growth and opportunity. They are not simply buying
software or technology; they are buying ideas. They are not simply investing in a consulting methodology; they are investing in the company that provides it.

Unfortunately, many firms tend to treat thought leadership as a side
issue that requires no substantial investment or thought. While they don’t
realize it, these firms are stripped bare by their web sites.

When prospects
begin to compare competing solutions, they have rapid access to resources that
demonstrate thought leadership – and they are starting to expect it. Companies
that fail to demonstrate industry leadership in the realm of ideas look thin
and insubstantial.

This is a strategic mistake. Market leaders recognize that they must take a
proprietary perspective toward thought leadership. They must make it their own
and tell it in their own voice. They must communicate their ideas in multiple
arenas and formats — and they must constantly reinforce their positions.

As one marketing executive recently noted in a conversation, it’s about building equity in one’s brand. By developing rich and compelling insights and branding them as their own, companies position themselves not only as product or even solution providers, but as advisors, coaches and consultants. They give their prospective buyers a reason to believe and the confidence to invest.