In a recent survey of 1,200 U.S. business decision-makers, content creators and salespeople, 61% say they are more willing to pay premium prices to work with a brand that articulates a clear vision through thought leadership. But only 14% of sellers believe that thought leadership allows them to charge higher prices than competitors. That's an obvious disconnect.
In another report—the 2019 Content Fitness Report from Heinz Marketing and PAN Communications—a case is also made for improved thought leadership.
"While influencer marketing and customer advocacy remain a high priority for marketers, thought leadership and executive programs reign supreme. Brands must amplify their message and establish trust while bringing in their point of view through content created by their subject matter experts (SMEs). This gives companies authority, authenticity and brand reinforcement."
Here are other takeaways from the Content Fitness Report:
Storytelling must become more resonant. Respondents noted that weak points within their content marketing programs came from three places: storytelling, analytics and automation. When asked what skill sets were most lacking, storytelling was, in particular, a pain point. "Storytelling plays a large component when it comes to relaying your brand's messaging and defining a solid industry [and thought leadership] stance, but companies often lack an experienced storytelling team," the report says. "Marketers need to recruit and hire talented storytellers that can utilize data and analytics in a way that propels customers in the right direction."
Celebrate successes. The report says that while sales might be more concerned with new business prospects, marketers must pay attention to current clients and celebrate their success stories via content and social media. "Your first step should be to develop a fully standardized program for 'Voice of Customer' and elevate your current brand champions."
A deeper connection to revenue must be made. Almost 70% of respondents are not confident in their content measurement strategy and delivering ROI, while 56% of respondents say their content marketing efforts are not being attributed toward revenue.
Better consistency is needed year-to-year. "Consistency year over year continues to be a struggle in terms of measurement, ROI and content marketing integration," the report's introduction says. "It's something that marketers should strive for in the near future as they work toward content resonation, authenticity and trust, brand awareness and standing out amongst key competitors as go-to thought leaders within their industry."
More communication between sales and marketing. "There's room for improvement when it comes to sales and marketing alignment. Communication here is key, and marketers need to step up and better communicate with sales on ideal customer profiles and buyer's journey pain points. Schedule more frequent check-ins so that your content is timely to prospects, even anticipating their upcoming hurdles."
Improved training is needed. "Focus on educating team members so they can foster engagement and dialogue, and also infer that feedback into the most effective content marketing program."
Integrate a strong social media program to amplify content. "Social and syndication are being overlooked. Marketers need a refresh on the importance of content amplification. We can no longer rely solely on organic traffic when content competition remains so fierce."
Learn your employees' wants and needs. "The employee experience within a company is a critical component—and should be weighted similarly to your customers. Your employees must be passionate and driven in order to deliver exceptional service offerings and experiences to your customers. Having a firm grasp on your employees' wants and needs goes a long way for retention and building a stable and consistent employee/customer dynamic."