Say it loud, say it proud: Thought leadership is often complete trash
I’ve written twice about some of my issues with thought leadership (here and here). My dog woke me up at 4am this morning and admittedly I was mildly hungover when he did that, so I’m not going to super belabor this post. Let’s just get right into it, then get out. Sound good?
The supposed demise of B2B marketing and sales
We’ve been talking about this for years. The core argument is that buyers can learn more online, so the “sales” aspect isn’t necessary.
My two cents: all that’s really changing is funnel entry stage. B2B sales and marketing won’t die. It’s changed, yes, but for it to “die” that would mean websites have to be more effective at conveying information. ROFL. Many websites, including my own, are trash when it comes to that. Something like 70% or more of the websites in the world right now aren’t set up to convert.
“We’ll attract those B2B leads with thought leadership!”
This is from a 2015 study of B2B buyers. Look for blue: “important.” See where “important” is lowest? That would be “thought leadership content.” Now let’s find the three highest:
- Search and navigation tools
- Easy access to pricing
- Easy access to content
So what does this mean?
Well look, this is one study. It might not mean anything, OK? Let’s not go ass over teakettle here. But I’ve seen similar studies as to this recently. My take would be: people want clean, easy-to-follow websites with a good interface. They want to know your solution and the pricing. The thought leadership shit is just bogging down what they really want/need to find, and GODDAMN IT THEY ARE SO BUSY.
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Let me go back for a second to something I told a friend once. Let’s say your boss calls you into his/her office and gives you a project. A few days later, they want a status update. You say “Well, I’m leading a lot of thoughts on it. I have a lot of thoughts.” That first meeting? It’s tolerated. But if you’re saying that three meetings later, you’re shit out of luck and getting reamed out. Business isn’t about leading thoughts. Never has been. It’s about action, execution, and KPIs. That’s how people advance. It’s also why thinking is pretty much RIP at most companies.
And that’s maybe the greatest irony of all: we pursue marketing strategies based on “thought leadership” and then, often when an employee has an original thought, we tell him/her “No time, I need to see where you are with those McPherson deliverables!”
God save the Queen, and/or all of us in the white-collar working world.