Companies who believe that they have a special feature or technique that makes them unique or provides a competitive advantage should consider how the internet has changed everything. Knowledge is not the secret sauce. Thought Leadership is.
As a Generation Xer, I grew up with encyclopedias, rotary phones and secret sauces.
- McDonald’s had their secret sauce for the Big Mac.
- Kentucky Fried Chicken had their secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.
- Coca-Cola had their secret formula for their syrup.
But with a quick Google search, it’s pretty easy to crack the code for all of these secret sauces. And the ability to find information isn’t limited to the food and beverage industry.
Think about the process of buying a car. In the past, the salesman at the car dealership had all of the information and you had almost none. You may have seen some TV ads or newspaper ads. And you may have had a general idea of the price of your dream car as well as the different trims available. But in reality, most of the information was held by the salesman.
If you were to buy a car today, you wouldn’t dream of walking onto the lot with without having done extensive research on the car and the competitors. The internet has changed everything about how we make purchase decisions.
You don’t just visit the manufacturer's website; you check out review sites and competitor sites and read reviews. All of the information you could ever need is available with a Google search and a few clicks.
In today’s internet world, companies who are looking to grow their sales have realized that:
Customers Research Before They Buy
Equally important is the fact that buyers want to speak to a salesperson AFTER they have conducted their research and created a shortlist.
So when it comes to your company, products and/or services, you need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and realize this simple fact:
If I don’t find the information I am looking for on your website,
I am going to get it from someone else.
(Probably your competitor.)
The solution is to make sure not only that all of your product and/or service information is transparent and readily available on the internet, but also that you demonstrate your thought leadership by providing content on the topics your prospects are interested in.
Thought leadership goes beyond the features and benefits of your products or services. Thought leadership is your opinion about a topic that you are an expert on. Companies who understand this demonstrate their thought leadership by sharing their knowledge using:
- Blog articles
- Webinars presentations
- Offers/lead magnets
According to a 2017 study by Edelman, thought leadership influences behavior across the entire sales funnel:
44% of decision-makers and 55% of C-level executives gave an organization their contact information as a result of a company’s thought leadership.
52% of decision-makers and 49% of C-level executives use thought leadership as a method of vetting an organization.
82% of decision-makers and 81% of C-level executives said thought leadership has increased their trust in an organization.
49% of decision-makers and 47% of C-level executives feel that thought leadership helps companies command a premium for their products and services.
So when it comes to marketing and selling your product or services, we all need to realize that the internet has changed everything. There is no secret sauce about your product or services. The best way to influence prospects to do business with your company is to be as transparent as possible and provide content that helps your buyers solve their problem.
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