Biased. Lacking substance. Dull.

When we asked B2B buyers what they think about the content they receive from vendors, over 60% of respondents to Forrester’s 2021 Content Preferences Survey gave these unflattering opinions. Buyers are drowning in a sea of sameness. They fail to find any value in the content they receive, because much of it is myopically focused on the vendor and its products and services not on the cares and concerns of the recipient.

This is especially true of thought leadership content, which is frequently thinly disguised pitches for business, boastful claims about a product’s latest feature or capability, or a labored retreading of familiar ground or the latest business fad, with little original thought or insight.

Done right, thought leadership is an intentional exercise of knowledge, skills, and expertise to increase awareness, elevate perception, and drive preference related to key issues that audiences care about. It provides material value to audiences that they can use in their professional lives, on themes that are relevant and timely. Its goal is to inform, engage, and build the reputation of your business.

All companies can create great thought leadership, but it requires a disciplined focus and a clear intention. There are four key facets to thought leadership success: 1) understanding market context (trends and requirements); 2) audience insights (pain points and information gaps); 3) corporate alignment (supporting market and business strategy); and 4) organizational readiness (resources and capabilities). We will review this in more detail at B2B Summit North America, May 2–4, in our session, “Most Thought Leadership Content Isn’t Thoughtful Or Leading: We Need To Fix That!” We look forward to seeing you there.