Category Archives: Content Marketing

Thought Leadership – Better for inbound/organic or outbound/proactive?

I have read a lot of postings that thought leadership content is great for  inbound marketing, particularly if the article, white paper, blog post, etc. is focused on a “hot” topic or need.   In the same vein, the prevailing notion is that thought leadership content is better suited for awareness stage of the sales cycle.

My take is that thought leadership possesses just as much relevance for outbound marketing as inbound.  Similarly, TL content is just as important in the late stages of the buy cycle as it is for the earlier stages.

Let’s take the outbound vs. inbound question first.  In my mind, the two are inexorably linked.  In fact, thought leadership content (or any marketing content for that matter) should be focused on a well defined need in the market and the campaign to target customers with that need should be explicitly segmented in your outbound campaign (email, webinar, etc,).  If properly done, the profile of those that respond via inbound/ organic means should be close to that you explicitly targeted.  The best situation would be for them to be touched by both means.

Now the sales cycle.  Awareness, interest and evaluation are  chief phases of the sales cycle where marketing plays a role.  Qualification is strictly for sales although in the closing phase a timely reminder of thought leadership can help overcome the hesitation factor.  Most articles and postings that I have read lately focus on the impact of thought leadership on the awareness and interest phases.  Certainly TL fits well in those stages.

However, thought leadership also plays a role in the evaluation phase of the sales cycle.  For example, many companies  implicitly evaluate a vendor’s future strategic direction (i.e. thought leadership) by explicitly evaluated a roadmap or schedule of new features.

What do you think?


Sales as Supermen – How Thought Leadership can help them.

I just tweeted about a blog post that listed the benefits of thought leadership.   One that really caught my eye was “Shortens the sales cycle because buyers have invested psychologically into your service/product before they buy”.  Coming from a sales background before moving to marketing, that benefit really resonated with me.  And of course if you want your VP of sales and the sales team onboard with your thought leadership investment, with this benefit  you need to look no further.

Speaking of sales teams and sales leaders, it’s critical that they buy into your thought leadership initiative.  If sales isn’t pushing your thought leadership content, you will only partially succeed.  With complex products and sophisticated buyers, sales people will always be the number one weapon.

Finally, some of have blogged about content marketing as fundamentally changing the sales process.  I for one believe that getting sales involved with the customer early in the sales cycle is still a major goal of a B2B marketing organization.  The concept of content marketing is a good one but many have followed its best practices before it had a name.

Using Social Media for Thought Leadership? What lessons can the eLearning world teach you?

I recently came across a question from someone on LinkedIn regarding best practices for getting  subject matter experts (aka the potential thought leadership bloggers at your firm) to consistently produce content for their inbound marketing efforts.  Reaching back to my elearning days at Centra, it dawned on me that many good lessons could be learned from the numerous elearning experts that have worked with SME’s over the last 10 years to produce quality training content.

The big problem for elearning professional (then and now) centers around inspiring over worked SME’s to not only produce content, but produce excellent training content.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Do you have a hard time trying to extract excellent thought leadership content from your SME’s and senior management team?

One best practice from the elearning community is to train SME’s on the model you will be using and babysit them with their first project.  If inspired, they quickly will get the idea.  If less inspired, you need persistence and patience in abundance.  There are plenty of elearning blogs out there to gain more insight.

Incidently, one good tool for producing elearning content (as well as social media content) is the Articulate Presenter tool for producing Flash based recordings with multi-media plug-ins. Their forum would be a good place to search for best practices as well.

reBlog from Chris Koch: Chris Koch’s B2B Blog

This is powerful statement.  Not only for Thought Leadership marketing activities but for the overall marketing strategy:

The model needs transforming Pledging to do more with social media isn’t the answer. What we need to be telling the business is that we’re going to transform marketing completely. Getting into social media really means getting into publishing. It means creating a constant stream of idea-based content that keeps buyers interested and engaged. That’s hard, and it means a real shift in skills for many marketing departments.Chris Koch, Chris Koch’s B2B Blog, Jan 2010

You should read the whole article.