“Thought leadership, it’s a marketing term,” was the comment.

That was after my statement that thought leadership was one of those buzz terms that belongs in the marketing scrap heap, along with business ecosystem, e-anything and the much-abused word solution as a synonym for application.

So much marketing misses the boat because it’s tired and regurgitates what other people have said. The thought process must be, “Well, they are smart and they used this term. We should use it.” That  kind of thinking gave us "solutions" in too many company names, postal solutions at the post office and breakfast solutions in the TV dinner section of supermarkets.

Or there’s the marketers who feed at the research trough. They use the fact that the Amazing Mega Research Group says that xty billion dollars is spent on gold-engraved hair dryers with semiconductor circuits should impress people.

It’s a flawed approach, dressed more in trying to sound important than in trying to understand people and their needs. Buyers do not buy xty billion on product. Vendors don’t make xty-billions in sales.

Buyers want to solve problems. Vendors want to solve them. What marketing should do is get the two together.  And the way to get people’s attention is tell them how their needs are going to be solved, or at least, that you understand what their needs are.

Good marketing, whoever you are writing for, is rooted in understanding business and  what it means to people. The process cannot be built solidly on quoting experts or loading up on research statistics.

The goal of good marketing should not  be to make things sound important. It is to make things simple, describing complex needs and solutions simply, and making a path to them available to customers, and letting customers know that it is in their hands to accept that path.


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