Want to strengthen your company’s positioning, generate demand and accelerate sales cycles? Then you need to create compelling thought leadership, leverage digital marketing channels and diligently measure the impact of your efforts.

In a recent AMA webinar, Michael Gauthier, CEO of e-tractions, and Paul Dunay, director of global field marketing at BearingPoint, offered this advice and other insightful perspectives on the power of thought leadership marketing.

Thought leadership — defined as “engaging prospects and customers with new, proprietary insight” — represents a powerful new way to increase awareness and direct response, they stated. Leveraging channels such as search engines, banner ads, RSS, podcasting, videocasting and blogging/social networking, companies can generate measurable success.

They can track not only awareness metrics around visitors, interactions and click-throughs to content, but direct response metrics that are tied to the sales pipeline and conversions.

Measurement is particularly critical to campaign success — and demonstrated impact. Dunay, who employed Gauthier’s firm  to support an extensive campaign (on VOIP), notes that he was able to “shoot the losers” and “maximize the [marketing] paths that were working.”

BearingPoint’s campaign was designed to enhance brand position and raise awareness for the firm’s VOIP service. Further, Dunay wanted to demonstrate the firm’s expertise in the field and position it as a thought leader. As he explains, the initiative should ‘convey the excitement and potential of VOIP and compel  prospective customers to hear our story.”

He saw thought leadership as a means of creating “an online asset that would quickly and cost effectively capture the attention of clients and prospects….We needed to optimize our media spend and create a compelling way to engage people with our content.”

Through its partnership with e-tractions, BearingPoint was able to test its campaign actions, compare various media and continually refine its messages. In fact, the company was able to direct prospects to particular content — a self assessment, an ROI calculator, a white paper — based on their position in a decision cycle. In some cases, it even drew people back into a vendor consideration process that were moving deep down the path with another solution provider.

Integrated analysis and reporting on the impact of different channels and program elements helped the consulting firm decide where to “double down” in terms of investment and where to cut back. (It learned, for instance, that print ads were not likely to drive prospects to a landing page on the Web.) The  reporting engine — which spans media/channels, landing sites and offers (call to action) — provided what Gauthier calls “one source of the truth.”

Ultimately, Dunay says the campaign proved to be one of the most successful ever for BearingPoint. Having tracked campaign metrics to measure ROI, the firm learned that it had accelerated a typical nine-month sales cycle and had generated a 30X return on hard costs.

At the heart of the campaign’s success, Dunay recognizes a philosophy of “give to get.” BearingPoint developed compelling content and built a disciplined process to manage it. This enabled the firm to engage its prospects in an effective fashion and attract them in ways that would have been impossible prior to the emergence of today’s digital channels. “If you want information [about your prospect], you have to give as much as you can,” concludes Dunay. “The key is to become a trusted information source.”