Truth Seekers Fall in Love with the Problem

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This post explores the commitment to research and research methodologies that Truth Seekers bring to the thought leadership marketing process.

Where do breakthrough insights come from? In all the findings of our research, the answer to this question is one of the most critical ones in understanding what separates the best thought leadership marketers from the rest. The answer, it turns out is quite simple — research. Most of the biggest business insights of our time were driven by deep, primary research.

Jim Collin’s work In Built to Last and Good to Great have been the backbone of board room discussions and strategic planning off-sites for nearly 20 years. Of course, the frameworks underpinning those insights derived from deep financial analysis of thousands of publicly traded companies paired with qualitative case study interviews of the hundreds of superior performers inside the data set.

You’d have to be living under a sales and marketing rock the last 10 years to ignore The Challenger Sale. The book, co-authored by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of CEB in 2011, has almost completely dominated the conversation on how B2B selling gets done. The initial insights, you guessed it, were based on surveys of 6,000 sales executives — a database that has expanded exponentially over the last decade.

Original Primary Research Sheds New Light on the Problem Itself

The best thought leadership marketers see their job not as bringing forth their consultants’ already baked solutions to marketplace problems. Rather, they see their job more like a quest. A never-ending journey to find better ways to solve the problem in the first place. They literally fall in love with the problem. And, put all their resources towards discovering better ways to solve it today, tomorrow, and for many years to come. Of course, they primarily do this through original primary research.

In many cases, this type of research can force a B2B firm to rethink its current expertise and develop whole new ways of operating. In our latest research on thought leadership marketing, we asked about the most important source of content for firms’ most successful thought leadership campaigns over the last three years (2015 to 2017). The most frequent source that Truth Seekers chose was primary research: a survey and/or interviews with companies to collect best practices. In fact, half the leaders told us this. By comparison, the least proficient thought leadership marketers, the followers, view their most important source of content as their professionals’ field experience.

Truth Seekers rely on primary research to shed new light on critical business problems.

Percent of respondents identifying each approach as the most important source of content for their most successful thought leadership marketing campaign between 2015 and 2017.

Rigor in the Research Process is Critical to Success

Of course, it’s one thing for a firm to invest in research. It’s another thing altogether for that same firm to bring the rigor necessary to make that research investment really create value for them and the market. Truth Seekers make this happen by bringing more rigor to the research process itself.

Truth Seekers place more emphasis on surveying the existing marketplace of insights to understand what new information is needed on the topic. They invest more time and energy into research design. They involve subject matter experts early and often in the process. And, they place more importance on pairing qualitative research (case study interviews) with quantitative research (surveys).

Truth Seekers bring more rigor to the research process itself.

Percent of respondents stating each factor is “extremely important” or “very important” in conducting thought leadership research studies.

The result tends to be insights that find new ground, cut through the clutter, and create whole new ways of looking at the problem than ever before.

Dive Deeper into the Research

Following the Leaders: The Seven Capabilities of Exceptional Thought Leadership Marketers identifies the mindsets, behaviors and processes of the world’s most successful thought leadership marketers. The study was released in January 2019 by Rattleback and Bloom Group.