I recently came across this podcast (12 minutes long) that reviews research by Longitude, a Financial Times Company, on The Power of Thought Leadership.
As social proof goes, I think it is fair to say that given their owner (the FT) and brilliant enterprise client base that their research capabilities and reach are second to none.
The asymmetry of information online for buyers now makes being present, relevant and timely incredibly important for all B2B businesses when it comes to digital content.
This point of timeliness is supported in Deloitte's Global Marketing Trends 2020 through the explanation of 'agile marketing' by moving from reactive to proactive engagement to meet the needs of clients. The report (page 57) warns that if you do not then you risk being left out of the race.
Most have seen the concept of b2b buyers contacting suppliers later in their buying journey (see below) since they can research, validate and educate themselves online before having a conversation with a sales person. This means that if you are not shaping the conversation prior to your prospect/client needing that service/solution then you
a) are missing out on a huge opportunity to be considered
b) might not be considered at all.
The second problem of not being considered at all can be particularly acute in large firms where the brand is strong in some legacy disciplines but may not be known to a buyer as relevant in area that they have a need in today.
In parallel to this, as James points out in the podcast, if you are not demonstrating value added thought leadership and a buyer comes across your website (through a recommendation perhaps) then there is a big chance it will make them stop and think whether you really can execute.
This might seem trivial but as more and more businesses start to showcase the expertise of their professionals online it is imperative to keep up. The annual Edelman Trust Barometer demonstrates that your 'company technical experts' are the number 1 profile to best represent your business. This is worth considering when building out such content plans.
Sales teams are in more need than ever to have these digitals assets available to help drive sales forwards. Since sales are on the frontlines, constantly engaging and aware of their clients' needs, it is imperative that you make them part of the content process. In addition there is a chance that if sales do not feel that they have been considered in the content process then they will be less likely to use the content produced.