Most of our marketing and selling efforts focus on becoming the “product/solution authority.” “We have the leading CRM solution on the market…… Our manufacturing technologies are the best solutions available….. We are the leading provider of financial services solutions…..”
Our content and our selling efforts focus on demonstrating the superiority of our solutions. “We have the best references, we have more features/functions, we are cheaper….”
When our customers and prospects have reached the point in their buying process focusing on solution selection, this may be important.
But what about Topic Authority?
Where to our prospects and customers get information on the critical issues impacting them, their customers, their industries, and markets?
For example, what are the major trends, what disruptions may be happening, what are the biggest issues facing everyone in the market? Alternatively, how might participants start thinking differently, what new opportunities are emerging? It could be major shifts in economy, market behaviors, demand. It could be major shifts in technologies impacting markets. For example, we are inundated with discussion about AI/ML and their potential impact on everything.
Topic Authority is critical because it focuses on what customers care or should be caring about. It’s all about them, their businesses, opportunities and threats facing everyone in the industry market.
Topic Authority creates awareness–not of products, but of issues, trends, changes. It is this awareness that incites customers to do something, perhaps to change, address and opportunity or threat. Or to consider something different. And this always precedes any buying effort and interest in solutions.
Topic Authority is, often, the domain of industry pundits, consultants, market researchers. Industry leaders/innovators often create Topic Authority.
But Topic Authority is critical for solution/product suppliers. Because it incites our customers to think differently, change, and, ultimately, buy, establishing Topic Authority begins to establish trust. And this trust is almost unconscious. Prospects and customers begin paying attention to what we may be saying—not because of our solutions or ability to solve their problems, but because we are educating them on issues that may be important to them.
We must always be investing in establishing Topic Authority. Rather than focusing on what we make and sell, we must focus on those trends and issues that, ultimately, drive a customer to buy. We have to become the experts in educating our customers in those issues. We have to be the experts in engaging customers in conversations about these and how they might impact the customer.
These business focused conversations establish trust and confidence with our prospect and customers. And when they are incited to change, they then turn to us, asking, “How can you help?”
Afterword: Thanks to Jon Reed’s great article on “Reaching The B2B Buyer,” for helping me think about this issue.
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