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Developing Thought Leadership: Capturing the Intellectual High ground in your Market and Making it Payoff

“Unless your campaign has a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.” – David Ogilvy

I wanted to blog about a recent webinar we hosted on online marketing. By background, we often run across Founders/CEOs with two related concerns or complaints: 

  1. “I need more revenue from my salespeople to grow more quickly” and,
  2. “I am frustrated that my marketing investments are unproductive or hard to measure.”

We recently found an effective solution in the analytics-based marketing program deployed by one of our most successful companies, Prolexic, having achieved annual revenue per rep exceeding $2M. The key was developing Thought Leadership in the category with content and visibility and monetizing the inbound activity. This is our “go-to” approach across our portfolio companies.

To discuss how the program works, Kennet hosted a webinar to discuss how the CMO, Michael Donner was able to drive such rapid revenue growth, currently 100%, with a relatively modest marketing budget.

Below is the link to the webinar where he walks through the magic.  I will summarize some of my observations in a few key bullets.

  • Expertise/Executer- Hire a seasoned professional to head your marketing group.  Many CEOs try to save money here by hiring a junior person and the result is inexperience leading to poor results. However, experience is not enough, and you also need to hustle. Check out the webinar to hear what a seasoned, performance-oriented marketing executive should commit to in order to launch an effective program.
  • Strategic Message – Start with a key strategic message: what is the pain point in the market that you address that is topical in the media and will secure attention for your content campaign. For Prolexic it is denial of service attacks but every one of our companies has a hot button topic around which they can use to build their campaigns.
  • Thought Leadership – Capture the intellectual high ground in the market. The internet is really optimized for companies to create a “virtual pulpit” from which to frame the market and explain where it is going.  Look for proprietary data to help create thought leadership. Prolexic was able to use data of attack activities across its customer base to become a bellwether for the industry through its quarterly industry attack report.  What data do you have that would allow you to influence the global discussion about your market?  This webinar is an excellent example of the merits of this approach.
  • Measure/Analyze/Correct – Build a suite of SaaS offerings (amazingly inexpensive!) to manage the output, collect and measure inbound interest, and track leads by source to quantify and amplify successful programs.

The program outlined here was launched with about $1M of annual investment though the project had a 6-month success hurdle before more funding was allocated.  For companies with a $15M revenue run rate, a similar program represents 7% of revenue, scaling down with growth after a $100M revenue, and should deliver a sizable return on investment. While simply hiring more salespeople often sounds appealing, increasing the revenue per rep is critical to scaling a high growth company and this requires successful marketing.