Beyond Thought Leadership – Strive for Eminence
B2B communications is a fascinating discipline. I really believe there’s no such thing as an inconsequential business. Every business solves problems and creates opportunities. Most have smart, knowledgeable experts that know their industries and their clients. Many have great stories to tell.
But despite this, many businesses struggle to translate insight and acumen into positive reputation in the marketplace. There are hordes of brands out there vying for visibility, but often, it’s hard to distinguish the leaders among the throng of noisemakers.
We believe this happens because while it’s easy to pump content into the marketplace, achieving true thought leadership lies in delivering greater intrinsic value; and doing that is hard. It requires striving for something more than promoting products and capabilities; something greater than building brand awareness. It takes time – and this is perhaps the biggest misconception about thought leadership. It simply cannot be attained quickly. It must be earned and cultivated continuously.
This belief led us to eschew the term “thought leadership” for one that invokes something much more valuable, albeit more challenging to attain — Marketplace Eminence.
Eminence is a bold word. It connotes authority, distinction and prestige – the kind that isn’t gifted or granted easily – but rather is earned and retained. Eminent brands work at being visionaries. They are visible in the right places, at the right time, challenging conventional thinking and claiming a distinctive, authoritative point of view on where to go and how to get there. They share strategic insights that educate customers and partners on business opportunities and novel ways to grow and create profitability. They tell compelling, distinctive stories, and have a keen sense of how to deliver those stories to the right audiences through the best available channels.
So how does a B2B brand become eminent? Here are a few starting points:
Embrace a galvanizing narrative – an idea that frames existing and future industry conversations to create a rallying point for the marketplace
Join and lead interesting industry conversations — in real-time and for the long term
Comment often on current and emerging marketplace trends and strive to articulate a provocative point of view, provide context and offer actionable solutions
Dig deep into your bench of subject experts to distill unique and valuable insights. Connect the dots between today’s reality and tomorrow’s possibility
Continually seek new story whitespace. Explore new frontiers, showing the way and inspiring confidence and trust
There is tremendous opportunity for companies with foresight, commitment and courage to achieve marketplace eminence. If you are willing to hone your current storylines and create new ones based on market opportunities, you can put them to work for you to build eminence in a manner that helps take customers and the marketplace from aspiration to realization.
Marketplace eminence is hard, and it takes time. But like our late president John F Kennedy said in his famous Moon Speech: “We choose to do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills[i].”