A Closer Look at the Patient Champions
What does it mean to be a Patient Champion? This post takes a closer look at the mindsets and behaviors that drive Capability #1 of the world’s most successful thought leadership marketers.
When Bob Buday and I set out to design our 2018 research study on thought leadership marketing we wanted to approach it through a different lens than ever before. This particular study was our 3rd research collaboration dating back 5-6 years. While our previous studies helped us understand the characteristics of top performers, we were confident we could unlock new insights on this narrow slice of activities within the world of B2B marketing.
Specifically, we sought to get below the surface of what exceptional thought leadership marketing looks like and get into the heart of how the best actually operate. What are the mindsets that govern their work? How do those mindsets shape the daily behaviors that govern what they do? And, how do firms translate those behaviors into a codified set of processes that enable them to develop and market high quality thought leadership at scale?
In all, we surveyed 312 B2B marketers across a range of industries. We separated the best — those who see their thought leadership as being “extremely effective” from the rest. And, we codified their mindsets, behaviors and processes into a set of 7 capabilities that describe their work. In this post, I’ll take a look at the first of these capabilities — a group we call the Patient Champions.
Patient Champions Have Big-Time Buy-In From Big-Time Managers
One of the critical characteristics of exceptional thought leadership marketers is their ability to earn big commitment from the top of their organizations. In fact, 95% of leaders in these firms place “high value” or “extremely high value” on thought leadership marketing. By contrast only 62% of all other respondents and 35% of followers (those that perform the worst at thought leadership marketing) can say the same.
Patient Champions have earned more commitment from the top of their organizations for investments in thought leadership marketing.
Percent of marketers stating senior leaders place “high value” or “extremely high value” on thought leadership marketing.
As one might expect, this senior management commitment opens up more resources for thought leadership marketing in their organizations. In fact, on average Patient Champions will invest 7% of their total revenue on thought leadership marketing. By contrast, the total population of the study invested approximately 5% on average.
Fidelity Investments, a firm we would classify as a Patient Champion (and a speaker at our 2018 conference), has nearly 20% of its workforce engaged in marketing or marketing-related activities. Now all these people are not tasked with thought leadership marketing. But, clearly the firm has earned big commitment for senior leaders to invest in the marketing of the organization.
How Patient Champions Earn Senior Manager Buy-In
Of course, none of this data about executive commitment and investment was really a surprise. It’s logical that firms that invest more in thought leadership marketing would see higher yield from their efforts and feel more satisfied about the results of their work. But, the real question we were curious to answer was how? How did marketers in these firms earn commitment from senior leaders for these investments? Of course, we designed the study to shed light on this topic.
First and foremost, marketers in these firms quantify their work. They’ve embraced the need to measure, and have made the investments in systems and processes necessary to prove ROI.
Second, they work qualitatively. They get senior leaders intimately involved with thought leadership so they can feel the benefits first-hand. They do this by using thought leadership as a tool to raise the visibility of their senior leaders in the market. And, they create opportunities for executives to hear about the importance of thought leadership directly from their peers and clients.
To earn executive commitment Patient Champions leverage data, involve leaders personally and find ways for them to hear from others.
Percent of marketers stating each approach to engaging senior business leaders is “extremely important” or “very important” in gaining support for thought leadership marketing.
Finally, they adjust their time horizon. They recognize that the C-suite of their organization operates in years and decades not months and quarters. They acknowledge that while thought leadership needs to deliver leads today it has a unique role in defining the very future of the organization in the marketplace. And, they’re steadfast champions of that future vision — precisely why we’ve chosen to call them Patient Champions.
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 Bloom Group and Rattleback.