Thought Leadership: It Takes More Than Pushing Content

“Sometimes marketing is hard.  And I think we do it to ourselves.”  At least that’s what I thought when I saw Gartner’s definition of thought leadership marketing:

“The giving – for free or at a nominal charge – of information or advice that a client will value so as to create awareness of the outcome that a company’s product or service can deliver, in order to position and differentiate that offering and stimulate demand for it.”  

I don’t know about you, but the hard time I’m referring to is the act of even reading that sentence.  (And it doesn’t even come close to some of the convoluted copy I’ve read recently.)  Having achieved the end of the sentence, however, I gave the definition some thought — and low and behold, I found that I don’t even agree with it.  But I do think I understand why they’ve defined it that way; at least I think I do.

I believe Gartner’s definition takes us all off the hook; it makes it easier to achieve thought leadership in our marketing practice since we no longer need to have an innovative or strong point of view that truly informs our respective audience(s), we just need to “give information for differentiation and demand purposes.”  (By the way, isn’t that a more generalized definition of marketing itself?)

I know that innovation can be difficult to achieve, and perhaps even impossible to achieve in some circles.  But let’s not water it down — just to make it more attainable.  Let’s go for it!

That said, I find that I have no further thoughts – innovative or otherwise.


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