Most marketing people — in telecom or otherwise — know that thought leadership is valuable. Plenty of executives know, too (and wish they were thought leaders). But, when asked why or how thought leadership is valuable, few know how to describe its measurable on business.
Research done in 2017 by LinkedIn and Edelman on the tangible ROI of thought leadership sheds some light on why exactly thought leadership is such a big deal. But instead of going through the whole study right now, here’s the most relevant point for telecom marketing:
Thought leadership helps remove risk from the buying process.
Risk is one of the chief obstacles that lies between an IT decision-maker and a partner’s sale.
That old adage: “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM” is alive and well.
The majority of our clients have IT decision-makers and CIOs as one of their buyer personas — meaning our clients are heavily targeting those people, and that profile makes up a big portion of their business. The common issue that our clients find across all IT decision-makers is how averse they are to risk-taking.
Risk-taking when it comes to:
- implementing new technologies
- going with a brand name that few have heard of
- performing any sort of migration that could jeopardize data
- asking for a budget increase to accommodate upgrades
IT decision-makers are afraid of the above, and a partner’s thought leadership builds expertise which builds trust.
IT buyers are making emotional decisions
Anyone in the telecom channel will tell you that sales are a product of conversation between people — not a product of the IT manager’s impulsive, robotic, or super rational decision. It’s because he’s been convinced he can trust the partner.
And, risk-averse IT buyers are making expensive decisions. The fourth bullet up there is huge because the cost of a bad decision could be his career. This fact makes buying decisions even more emotional.
Thought leadership plays into these psychological dynamics. Here is the research that looked at more than 1,300 business decision makers and C-suite executives, and explored how thought leadership influences their behaviors throughout the B2B purchase process:
- 88% of decision makers and 89% of C-suite executives think their respect and admiration for the organization providing thought leadership increased.
- 82% of decision makers and 81% of C-suite execs on the receiving end say their trust in the organization providing the thought leadership increased.
- 37% of business decision makers and 41% of C-suite executives said they invited an organization to an RFP after seeing its thought leadership.
So, the more you can de-risk the buying process for your prospects, the more likely you are to put your company in “the IBM light.”
As a telecom marketing manager, how are you supposed to help your executives and brand become thought leaders? Find out in part 2 of this series, coming next week: How to be a true thought leader when everyone’s doing it.