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What does it mean to be a thought leader?

Forget the wishy-washy thought leadership. What if your thought leadership was so good that people


to pay for it? That it drove nearly


of your demand gen? Sounds good? Then you need

Ignite USA

. Lucy Gillman gives you a taste of what you can expect at

Tim Riesterer

’s session.

Emotion lies at the heart of thought leadership

As chief visionary and founder of

B2B DecisionLabs

and chief strategy officer at

Corporate Visions

, Tim is well versed in the art, or rather science, of thought leadership. Using science-backed research, the organisations look into the hearts, minds, and brains of customers and see what content works – and what doesn’t.

For Tim, the importance of thought leadership centres on emotional drivers – the key to building trust and differentiation. “Most products or services in any given category are hardly discernible from one or another,” he outlines. “Customers choose one brand over another based on a sense of trust and confidence in who you’re going to partner with. The products or services you offer don’t have enough juice in them to create that. That’s where thought leadership comes in.”

Research shows that the company who can inspire a buying vision and create a sense of future change is one who “win[s] more than their fair share,” Tim continues – something you can’t create by simply “shoving more products and services at someone.”

“The one who can help people see that move from current state to future state is the one that will do more than their fair share”

Make a research agenda – and make sure everyone sticks to it

Set aside the “I’m just going to post this on social! I’m going to do this there” mindset when it comes to thought leadership – and put that Gartner quote back from where you got it. Thought leadership has to be “cultivated and in some level contained” – not simply parroting another company’s insight. 

“I don’t have to come to your company to hear Gartner’s opinion or Forrester’s opinion. They’re then the thought leader,” Tim continues. You’re just amplifying their thought leadership and trying to accrue something for yourself. It isn’t original.” 

“Hey, nice job on quoting someone else famous. I’ve seen that data point one million times now”

Start by setting a research agenda. Look at topics that are important to the industry that you can lead out on – and make sure your entire organisation sticks to this from top to bottom.“It can’t just be that you have a bunch of smart people here and there who you train on how to be social. If you have a big idea, an insight – everybody needs to push the same insight out to the market,” Tim clarifies.

How do you know you’re a thought leader? When you go from the quoter to the quotee

Bring something new to the table, a ‘didn’t see it anywhere else’ bit of insight based on your own research. And to do that, you need to look within. “When you’re talking to a prospect or customer, you’ve seen more companies, decision makers that look like them than they have,” Tim reminds us. 

Look at your installed base, experiences, the data that your systems, processes and tools throw off to find “the insights buried in the knowledge you have in the market because of the installed footprint you have.” The companies who can do that are the ones who are going to win – and win big.

Case and point with Corporate Visions. Having contracted a Stanford University professor, Corporate Visions were able to create an original, exclusive, ‘academically rigorous’ piece of research – “you couldn’t get those results from anybody else. Only we could promote them,” Tim elaborates.

This fresh piece of research co-branded with a recognisable name paid back dividends. “Our research is legitimate. We’re not doing anything commercial – we’re giving insight to people that have applicable, doable things tomorrow without ever having to hire us,” Tim develops. “Eventually that goodness comes back. 100% of our demand gen and lead gen comes from the promotion and marketing of research like that which becomes our exclusive source of campaign content for the market.” A genuine example of thought leadership that works.

“Eventually we saw people quoting our stuff! That’s the goal – to be getting your work quoted”

What you’ll learn at Ignite USA

As Tim outlines, his session is “about how to create fresh, original, exclusive thought leadership based on your own research that you bring to market to shape the opinions of the market through insight, to position your brand as a thought leader and drive demand because of the level of unique interest it creates”

At Ignite USA, you’ll learn more in-depth information like:

  • Case studies from B2B DecisionLabs studies, such as a study conducted in the brain lab on how people react to virtual presentations funded by Zoom.
  • Examples of frameworks on the most effective message to send to a client you lost in hopes to recapture the lost business based on 24,000 real world lost customers in 8 different test conditions.
  • How B2B DecisionLabs grew from $39 million in consulting and training revenue to over $100 million (during the pandemic, no less) and what you can learn from them.
  • Why you don’t need to publish that blog.
  • If you’re frustrated with your thought leadership programme – how to fix it.
  • If you’re new to thought leadership, how to skip the bad bits and create meaningful thought leadership from the get go. What more could you ask for?

“I’m excited to share that. It’s been an interesting journey and I think people can learn from it, Tim continues. “That’s how we roll! We just share it all! And I hope people can learn from it and grow from it.”

Want to learn more about unlocking the power of your brand?

Attend Ignite USA, America’s leading B2B conference on all things brand 1-3 June, virtually and in-person, in Chicago. Book your tickets today to learn the tools needed to translate and deploy your brand into top tier marketing messages and campaigns and win those buyers!

Sign me up!

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