Why marketing shouldn’t be generating thought leadership

Blog post

Thought leadership is an important part of the marketing mix for many B2B organisations so it’s not surprising that, in organisations where great content isn’t being created by other people, marketing teams take the driving seat.

But while this level of involvement of marketing teams is understandable it can cause problems: for example, in our experience marketing teams usually recognise the need to get subject matter experts involved but often struggle to get more than a one-off interview with a smattering of consultants. And the process is usually evident in the end product. Signs include:

  • A heavy reliance on survey results – reports that take the reader through each question in turn, explaining what percentage of respondents said what, and failing to add much additional insight.
  • Long introductory sections about current trends in the industry – trends that any insider is already very aware of.
  • Little evidence of on-the-ground expertise – of what really matters in practice.
  • No real insights or “so what” for the reader.

Having said that, we’re often equally unimpressed – albeit for different reasons – when content has been created by the individual consultant with little additional support.

The optimum approach combines the skills and expertise of both parties – marketing and subject matter experts (SMEs) – and incorporates editorial capabilities too. In firms where this partnership is flourishing, the SMEs feel ownership for the end product and are heavily involved throughout. However, they’re supported by others who ensure the target audience and objectives are clearly defined, look at what competitors are producing to avoid  a “me too” publication, consider how best to explore the SME’s hypotheses, and provide editorial challenge to ensure the end product is engaging and appealing.

In our bi-annual quality ratings, there is a very clear link between those who succeed engage this range of capabilities and those who top our table.