How To Use Thought Leadership To Build Brands and Nurture Leads

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by: Jon Miller's recent report "What's Working In Lead Generation" got me thinking about the relationship of thought leadership to branding and lead nurturing. In B2B marketing, all three serve the same purpose: to establish your company as a trusted adviser, so when a prospect is ready to buy, he or she will think of you and will want to speak with your sales reps.

B2B Branding

I'm often asked whether branding matters to B2B marketing. RainToday's report helps to demonstrate that the answer is yes, concluding, "If you are well known, whatever lead generation tactics you employ are likely to work better." In fact, 65% of companies that claim they are well know report being good or excellent at lead generation, while only 44% of the not well known companies report being good or excellent.

A key difference from B2C marketing: In B2B, mass advertising does not work to build the brand (the survey found that TV, radio, and print advertising were ranked 33, 31, and 29 – out of 33 – as least effective methods for B2B lead generation).

Instead, RainToday argues that B2B companies should build their brand by helping buyers research early in the sales cycle, demonstrating that they are trusted advisers who understand the prospect's problems. By using thought leadership to engage prospects early, you build awareness and increase your chances that the prospect will respond to future demand generation efforts.

Lead Nurturing

The report also has some of the best data I've seen about the importance of lead nurturing

The definition of "sales-ready" varies from company to company, but most said that only 10-30% of leads generated by marketing campaigns were sales-ready. The average value was 25%. Respondents also reported an average of 25% of leads should be disqualified. The remaining 50% of leads require "further nurturing".

RainToday points out that lead nurturing is not just sending a monthly email newsletter to your entire database, or calling prospects every few weeks to see if they are ready to buy yet. They argue that lead nurturing is your opportunity to demonstrate the value you can provide and to position yourself as a resource. This is similar to my post Lead Nurturing 101, where I defined lead nurturing as "the process of building a relationship by conducting an informative dialog that helps educate qualified prospects who are not yet sales-ready".

With this definition, lead nurturing is about using thought leadership to deepen your role as a trusted adviser, which in turn further builds your brand and improves awareness. The end goal is to stay within the buyer's awareness so that when he or she is ready to speak with a sales person, your company is an obvious choice.

Note: You can download the executive summary of the report, "6 Lead Generation Insights for 2007", from the site.

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