By Paul Lindsell
Thought Leaders, people or businesses that are recognized as expert and authoritative in their market, are more likely to be called to tender say 72% of UK businesses. But the material they publish must be genuinely informative and credible.
This is the key finding of a survey of over 2,000 UK companies by consumer and business analyst MindMetre Research. The sample, broadly representative of UK business by sector, was canvassed in order to uncover the level of influence thought leadership plays in buying and tendering decisions. The presence of thought leadership content on a company website was found to play a crucial role in getting companies’ the proverbial ‘foot in the door’ by providing validation of company expertise. It was also found that thought leadership can help companies actually get invited to tender.
2013 may be the year when an internet business technique, known as ‘content marketing’, converges with ‘thought leadership’ to provide a compelling combination of quality content and powerful distribution channel. But amateurism and commercial myopia are very real dangers when it comes to research, and have often been seen to lead to pseudo-statistics that suspiciously support a company’s commercial interests per se without adding any value to the reader. Publishing statistics that are wrong or exaggerated can lead to huge reputational damage.
The detailed outcomes of the survey are:
• When compiling a tender list for technology and equipment, 61% of companies research possible candidate suppliers on the web and will visit the company website to validate its expertise
• For companies looking for a business services supplier, the proportion rises to 70%
• 72% of UK businesses report that they are much more likely to invite a supplier to tender if their website not only describes the sales proposition, but also gives access to informative and relevant thought leadership material
• Fully 80% of businesses warn that thought leadership must be based on credible, independent research and not simply be a collection of personal opinions
Regus, the global workplace provider, runs a twice-yearly research programme providing thought leadership content for its communications spanning across over 90 countries. Andrew Brown, Group Communications Director at Regus, comments: “We believe that our communications should reflect our expertise through thought leadership. This type of content is produced to provide our prospect and client market places with timely, useful insights on issues that really concern them, and that they can use to build more successful businesses. That is the reason we produce a twice-yearly overview of business confidence and regularly canvass companies globally about their views on critical issues such as employment and productivity. For a constantly expanding international business like us, another benefit of developing and disseminating thought leadership content is to share through expert analysis of the local markets how flexible working can bring benefits to businesses and help them grow. ”
Companies other than management consultancies are increasingly recognising that they can gain tangible competitive advantage by demonstrating commercially valuable ‘thought leadership’ in their customer markets. By addressing issues in the customer’s market the company shows that it is knowledgeable about these issues and can help find a solution.
Buyer organisations evidently consider the demonstration of thought-leadership by potential suppliers to be important, and influential when deciding which supplier to use. So, while thought leadership confirms its key role in building a reputation for a new entrant into a market, established market players can also build their reputation further with customers, influencers, and stakeholders through the generation of interesting material.
About the author and MindMetre
Paul Lindsell is Managing Director of MindMetre Research.
MindMetre, part of the Lindsell Marketing Group, is a leading consumer and business analyst. The organisation has been investigating trends in a range of fields and sectors for more than a decade, generating independent research for companies in subject areas that are close to those firms’ markets, as well as its own original studies. Research programmes are regularly conducted across the globe, embracing geographies from the Americas to the Far East. For more information, please go to www.mindmetreresearch.com .