B2B marketing departments are often pressed for resources. The increasing demand for content to drive eMarketing programs can create a "hamster on the wheel" type of pressure that's overwhelming when added to already filled plates of marketing responsibilities.
So marketers commission 3rd party content to fill the gap. They also count on the fact that the reputation of the 3rd party they hire will help them gain awareness, generate more leads and facilitate the desired buying behavior.
But companies are selling themselves short. They're not becoming known as experts in their field, but as a resource people can count on for access to information they want by exchanging contact information instead of shelling out the big bucks these 3rd parties charge for their work.
The perception of the value of the report or white paper is higher than the cost of having to endure the likely sales call that will result. And usually it is.
However, what I find worrisome is the perception cost to the companies who rely on them for the bulk of the information they employ in their nurturing, newsletter and lead generation programs.
One of my clients has recently undertaken the creation and execution of a thought leadership nurturing program. Unfortunately they aren't perceived by their prospects as thought leaders. But they are noted for supplying relevant and useful 3rd party expertise.
The nurturing program isn't yet hitting the same engagement levels as the eNewsletter program that uses 3rd party content.
Why not? Because the company doesn't have any credibility for the provision of this type of content. Instead, their marketing programs have built credibility and trust for those experts they're paying to promote.
The problem is that they've only committed to a proof-of-concept program for one quarter. Three months isn't enough time to change market perception. It's a start. Progress is being made. But if they cease the program at the end of three months, they'll lose the traction they're building.
Becoming a thought leader is harder than it looks. It takes time, patience and perseverance.
This doesn't mean they can't continue to use 3rd party expertise. What it does mean is that the combination of the two is a better approach. This way the company can keep providing what their database expects as they begin to set new expectations. As they build credibility for their own content, they can reduce their reliance on the 3rd party content.
In this world of online word of mouth, peer referrals and conversational exchanges, companies need to recognize the benefits of becoming relied-upon experts in their field. So the next time you plan your editorial calendar, pay attention to whose reputation you're building and make sure it's heavily weighted to your side. It may take some time, but it's an investment well worth making...and sticking with over the long term.
Prospects who only interact with you to get other people's expertise are not going to buy from you without a great deal of coaxing. Marketing programs are intended to help put salespeople into conversations with those who have demonstrated an interest in actually buying what your company sells.
Company authored, thought leadership content can play a critical role in shortening sales cycles by building your credibility, showcasing value delivery and helping your prospects see a clear path to success with your help.
So, why would you want to give those benefits to someone else?
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