The more than 1,000 sales and marketing pros heading to Eloqua Experience tomorrow are in for an insightful mix of best practices and big picture strategies. And of those people delivering a big picture talk will be Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester Research.
Ernst delivers counsel to CMOs and top marketers. He’s popped up on our blog before to explain why storytelling matters for B2B marketing. He’s shown how social marketing can go big. At Eloqua Experience, Ernst will talk about thought leadership, why businesses need it and how to do it well.
We wanted to give a preview to his presentation on Friday with these 5 reasons thought leadership marketing really matters for B2B.
1. Because Prospects Want Your Perspective, Not Your Product
As Ernst puts it, “Business buyers don’t “buy” your product or service, they “buy into” your perspective and approach to solving their problems.”
In other words, your myopic obsession with your individual product or service is a turnoff. Thought leaders take part in conversations that are bigger than the little niche of the market they represent. You want to show you understand their whole world, not just what your product can do for them.
2. Because the Sales Process Starts Early and Ends Late
Buyers are out to solve a problem, not a buy a solution. That process starts long before the active buying process does, Ernst notes. And the actual time to investigating the problem to searching out solutions can take months to years.
Thought leadership helps you get in early, developing a conversation and building relationship with the buyer. This keeps you front-of-mind when you enter that mid-stage and late-stage period of the sales cycle.
3. Because Your Buyers Use Google
These days people don’t expect to scour your website. They turn to peers on LinkedIn and Twitter, Q&A sites like Focus and Quora, and, more often than not, Google.
You need to go where your ideal audience is. Once you’re there, your thought leadership content is one of the best ways to get their attention. Google is putting greater focus on identifying content that delivers real value. Thought leadership is your key to getting found and spread around.
4. Because Thought Leadership Needs Content, and Content Feeds Social Strategy and Demand Generation
B2B marketing today usually involves a mix of social marketing and demand generation. Both of these require content – compelling content. The market has a short attention span, which means it’s on you to develop thought leadership that differentiates you from the crowd and gets you heard through the noise.
5. Because Trust Still Matters
Cynics will tell you that trust doesn’t mean anything in today’s ad-saturated business climate. They’re wrong, particularly when it comes to B2B marketing.
It’s imperative that you build conversations that build trust over time, Ernst says. In B2B, where the purchase decisions get more involved and expensive, buyers want to work with brands they know they can trust. Demonstrating thought leadership implicitly demonstrates you’re a company that can be trusted.
Don’t miss Jeff Ernst’s presentation on Thought Leadership Marketing this Friday at 11:15AM PT. What does thought leadership mean for you? What strategies have you picked up to become a leader in your industry?