Thought Leadership Content Makes up A Bigger Part of the Marketing Mix

June 10, 2011 0 Comments

We are seeing organizations that sell complex offerings to valuable customers – like technology, insurance, or B2B solutions, consulting/advisory services – are looking hard at thought leadership. Why do busy sales, marketing, and communications at these businesses care about thought leadership?   There are many reasons:

  • Thought leadership helps win the battle for the best customers – by opening doors, eliciting better conversations, and most significantly building trust with sophisticated buyers;
  • Ideas, education and advice can differentiate the client experience and help you sell more for less.  Business to business executives interviewed by the Economist Intelligence unit rank Thought Leadership as a top marketing priority because they view their top challenges as “positioning the business as a thought leader in the industry” and “standing out from the competition”;
  • Quality ideas and thinking are the strongest currency in a shifting, digital and democratized media landscape.

Recently, the Custom Content Council provided a more pragmatic reason executives should care about thought leadership.  Custom content is becoming a bigger part of the marketing mix to a recent survey of Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) by the Council; marketers are spending over $40 Billion in 2011 on custom content.  Most CMO’s expect customized media and content to make up an even bigger slice of the marketing mix. A majority of CMOs believe that custom media and content will capture a larger proportion of marketing budgets over the next couple of years.  One third of CMOs’ even view custom content as the future of marketing.

And the RO on all this spending remains unknown at best.  According to the survey, over 80% of CMO’s would use custom content even more if they could effectively measure Return on Investment.  Reading between the lines it’s highly likely a lot of that money is wasted or not driving differentiation or measurable sales growth.  Our experience working with large selling organizations is that marketers don’t hold the folks that create and throw out advisory content – on the web, in workshops, webinars or publications – accountable for generating anything more than impressions or awareness.   Only the best organizations force their marketers to justify their custom content investment in terms of measurable sales outcomes – profiles, meetings, referrals, proposals, and actual sales.  Until they do, thought leadership get the growth results it has the potential to achieve.

About the Author:

Stephen Diorio is an established authority in growth and go-to-market innovation with over 25 years of experience helping CEOs, Boards, and CMOs create new growth and enterprise value by leveraging advanced marketing practices and digital technology. He is the lead analyst in the Forbes Marketing Accountability Initiative and a Partner in Profitable Channels where he helps CEOs, Boards and CMOs create new growth and enterprise value by leveraging advanced marketing practices and digital technology. I've helped hundreds of marketing leaders take advantage of the most current marketing best practices and digital technology to grow faster, differentiate their customer experience, and reduce selling costs. He has helped over one hundred leading sales organizations drive net new growth—including Merrill Lynch, Intuit, Armstrong, American Express, CBS, DuPont, IBM, Janus Funds, Morgan Stanley, Ricoh, SunTrust Bank, Staples, UPS, and US Bank. He a Director of the Brand Publishing Institute, and Author of Beyond e: 12 Ways Technology Will Transform Sales & Marketing Strategy (McGraw-Hill). Mr. Diorio holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Engineering from Bucknell University.

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