The Marketing Strategist:

Featured Research: Thought Leadership Is Becoming Critical to Buyers

December 20, 2011

When we conducted our How Customers Choose Solution Providers research, we never expected to see solution provider contacts topping the list for credibility. But when we looked at the data, there was no denying that solution providers are being invited back into the buying process. How did this happen? And why are buyers ready to believe solution providers? Epiphany marketing is what happened. The epiphany stage of the buying process is the point at which customers realize an important business need. Today’s buyers, who are hungry for ideas and information that will help them gain competitive advantage or solve a business problem, have been doing their own research, turning for the most part to the internet and social media. At the same time, we have seen the demise of the trade and general business press, which was once the most important and trusted source of information. This created a void, and in last year’s survey we saw the evidence that industry analysts were filling this void. This year, the survey data shows that solution providers have also stepped up and have become a credible information source. Solution providers are not providing just any information; they’re providing high-quality thought leadership. This is why buyers are starting to believe. Solution providers stepped up at just the right time.

Thought Leadership Is Now Critical to the Buying Process

In our 2010 survey, we asked about the role of thought leadership in the purchase process, and we were amazed to see how important it was to buyers when they were deciding which providers would make it onto their shortlists. This year, thought leadership is not just important, it’s critical to the purchase decision. In fact, 45% buyers who were surveyed say it plays a critical part in determining who makes the short list, as compared to only 23% in 2010. Thought Leadership Critical to Buyers This is good news for services and solutions marketers, who are doing great research, providing excellent case studies, and sharing best practices. Because as the quality of the content continues to improve, so will the relationship with the buyer. Read ITSMA’s 2011 survey How B2B Buyers Consume Information Study: The Rise of the B2B Social Buyer.

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