Using intellectual capital to build market capital

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Why did Ernst & Young design a "Car Company of the Future"? What made A.T. Kearney Inc. conduct a Global Competitiveness Audit of tech and telco companies? Who would have expected Borland Software and Cognizant to shine a light on the costs of software obsolescence?

These are just a few examples of "Authority Leadership Marketing" at work. All these marketers are striving to be recognized as thought leaders and subject matter experts. They want to create interactive relationships with key decision-makers to gain deeper insights and more influence across the enterprise.

Winning companies today go well beyond the trumpeting of product features and functions. They are now putting their solutions and services into context by mapping the market landscape to identify pain points and little-recognized vulnerabilities, risks or costs.

The upsurge in executive participation in the strategic procurement process-as well as the ready availability of meaningful decision-support content and affinity groups on the Internet-is driving Authority Leadership Marketing.

"Define What's Valued Online," a new survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and KnowledgeStorm, a syndicator of technology-related content, provides some pertinent supporting facts. Nearly 1,400 senior business and IT professionals participated, and 90% stated that online content consumption has a moderate to major impact on vendor preferences and selections.

Almost half the executive respondents said they either made final purchasing decisions or had a high influence on spend. A further 34.5% said they had a moderate influence on spend. The top three areas of online research in the technology sector included enterprise software applications, computer systems and servers, and computer devices and peripherals.

Central to effective Authority Leadership Marketing is the definition of a strategic advocacy agenda and point-of-view platform. For example, Ernst & Young's automotive consulting practice was able to win a substantial worldwide engagement with a leading automotive manufacturer by developing the concept of the Car Company of the Future in collaboration with a leading academic institution and all parts of the automotive supply and service chain. This initiative immediately established the E&Y practice leader as a global subject matter expert and credible commentator on the future direction and dynamics of the industry.

Likewise, when A.T. Kearney's technology and communications practice wanted to grow its profile, the firm invested in a major intellectual capital-building exercise around global competitiveness. In partnership with the CMO Council and BPM Forum, it conducted a Crunch Time Global Competitiveness Audit, which harvested a rich body of knowledge on North American companies' lack of preparedness to fend off new category contenders from China, India, South Korea and other emerging economies. Not only did the results command global media attention, they also formed the basis of a Global Competitiveness Summit in Silicon Valley, a new revenue-generating consulting service and a fertile, ongoing market engagement track.

Similarly, when Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and Borland wanted to drive demand for their respective software portfolio analysis practice and application life cycle management solutions, they collectively invested in a BPM Forum authority leadership program, dubbed Software Drain or Business Gain. This program included an online survey of C-level executives to determine the economic impact of software provisioning across the enterprise. It found corporate America replete with obsolete applications costing billions of dollars in unnecessary IT maintenance, in addition to added risk and vulnerability.

Software Drain or Business Gain has given both Cognizant and Borland a platform for evangelizing their critical roles as strategic business partners focused on optimizing business performance, productivity and spend effectiveness. During the process of building the a uthority leadership position, the sponsors had the opportunity to engage with prospects, publish white papers, and produce Web conferences and offline events that generated additional leads and opportunities.

Authority Leadership Marketing starts with a deep dive into the prevailing business conditions and strategic concerns and considerations of customer audiences at an executive management or board level. It is aimed at framing and directing market discussions, influencing strategic agendas and shaping perceptions, attitudes and purchasing patterns. It enables brands to become trusted voices and credible resources for both media and analysts. It also allows companies to create alignments with influential publishing groups and organizations, as well as achieve closer integration with channel and business partners in cooperative programming and demand generation activities.

Donovan Neale-May is executive director of the CMO Council, which represents more than 1,500 senior technology marketers. He is also managing partner of Global-Fluency, the architect of Authority Leadership Marketing.

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