Thought leadership is good in any marketing situation, but it’s especially good in B2B services companies.
There's a lot of talk these days about thought leadership marketing – the process of establishing a company or individual as the go-to resource for knowledge of a specific industry, situation or technology. Thought leadership is good in any marketing situation, but it’s especially good in B2B services companies, and for professional service companies in particular.
Thought leadership shows you know what you're doing, that you understand your customers' pain points and know how to solve their problems. Since services companies have nothing tangible to demonstrate their expertise (unlike product companies), thought leadership is the solution.
Have you heard about thought leadership marketing but aren’t sure it’s right for your firm?
Here are 5 ways that it works:
1. Buyers educate themselves before contacting you.
In thought leadership marketing, you share your expertise online. Since 90% of buyers do their research online first, before ever making a call, thought leadership marketing is the way to reach them while they’re doing their research. If you're not sharing your expertise online, most customers will be left thinking that perhaps you don’t have any. And they’ll pass you by because there are dozens of other companies out there who are demonstrating their knowledge.
2. It broadens your reach.
It used to be that networking was the primary way that professional services practitioners got new business. You could volunteer on charity boards, golf, go to business mixers, and share your expertise one-to-one. It's an approach that's certainly still valid, but talking to people one at a time is a huge effort. Putting your expertise online allows you to reach more people with a lot less work. You could host a webinar for 60 or more people, and then when it's done, post it on your site for anyone to access, reaching hundreds or even thousands of people. Plus, it's easy to measure effectiveness – you can see how many times your webinar has been watched.
3. It's a great way to differentiate.
The reality is that a lot of services businesses deliver the same kind of expertise, and it's hard for buyers to tell them apart. How do they know if your legal service or valuation business is better that the next guy's? Sharing your specific knowledge helps them gauge your offering.
4. It builds trust and relationships.
Most professional services purchases tend to be of a sensitive nature. There's trust involved, so customers want to get to know you before buying. Thought leadership marketing is a zero-pressure way to let them familiarize themselves with you, your team, and your offering. What you write, how you write it, the videos your produce and the images you use all put your expertise and your personality out there, inviting customers in.
5. It keeps you top of mind with past customers.
It's important for a services company to stay top of mind. You want to stay in touch with your past customers, but calling simply to say "hi" isn't a particularly effective approach. You need to offer something of value whenever you interact with customers. Sharing case studies, relating the stories of recent challenges and how you solved them and advising on the impact of recent regulatory changes are all great ways to connect with past customers. It's a lot easier to email customers when you have something useful to share.
In an era of the empowered buyer, professional services companies need thought leadership marketing if they want to succeed. The very best demonstration of its effectiveness is that you're reading this blog post. Sharing your knowledge is the easiest, fastest way to get on the radar of new customers, and to stay top of mind with your existing ones.
Looking for more help to make marketing work in your B2B company? Get proven tips in PROFITGUIDE’s Special Report on The Radical Sales Shift.