Let me get something on record: Buyers want unbiased, smart, educational content. My sales guy asked me the other day for statistics so he could “prove this to clients.” I told him, “If you’re trying to learn about something, would you rather watch a documentary or an infomercial?”
So think about it: Do you really need data? Ask yourself the following questions:
- When researching a purchase, do you prefer the advice of a neutral expert or the vendor?
- Who are you more likely to believe, the neutral expert or the vendor?
I mean come on. Thought leadership works. Here are some examples:
- Brian Carroll: I’ve talked about this guy before and, by the way, he wrote about this very topic on his blog. Everyone in the business trusts Brian, and there’s a lot to learn from him. Here’s what I’ve noticed about his approach:
- He basically talks about every form of lead gen. Even areas in which his company does not specialize.
- He rarely mentions his corporate affiliations.
- He gets “butts in the seats.” His Webinars, seminars, etc. are highly attended and people know that when they go to listen to him, they’re going to something out of it.
2. Bruce Schneir: I was a consultant for a long time at Counterpane, a security-outsourcing company Bruce founded. He is a highly requested speaker, writer, and interview. People used to call the main line just hoping to speak with him. That is one of my first experiences seeing thought leadership work. Bruce is the embodiment of this quote from Brian’s post, credited to Dana VanDen Heuvel from MarketingProfs:
Become a thought leader in your field and it won’t matter as much how big you are. Companies and people will look to you for insight and vision. Journalists will quote you, analysts will call you, and websites will link to you.
You have to do thought leadership right, end of story. You can’t pretend to provide educational content or thought leadership. If you look salesy, you’re selling. People DO NOT FALL FOR THAT. For instance, at the 2009 Sales 2.0 Knowledge Share Conferencee last week, the first set of presentations were all supposed to be about Sales 2.0 techniques. Instead, they were not-so-well-disguised sales pitches for companies like Hoovers and Inside View. The feedback in the halls was not so good. The program probably got better, but what I saw and the reactions I heard scream my point loud and clear: Buyers pay (in time or even money) if they can learn something that will help them do better in their jobs. B2B buyers can smell a rat, so do it right.
This quote from Brian’s post says it all:
People have a natural “BS” meter. We can sense when someone is just trying to sound smart rather than be authentic. Most of us can recognize a charlatan, one who pontificates about their expertise only to pitch us. These so-called thought leaders are only just trying to edify themselves.