The Big Idea: How to be the Voice of Reason in a Crowded B2B Industry


Being the “voice of reason” in today’s cutthroat B2B market means being a trusted source of information and guidance for other businesses in your industry—a thought leader, essentially. But what does it take to get there?

As a B2B demand-gen agency with clients ranging from high-tech businesses to Atlassian solution providers, we know firsthand how tough it can be to be the voice of reason in an increasingly competitive business landscape. But it’s not an impossible feat.

We sat down with Matthew Lewsadder, a veteran B2B marketing leader and Brighttail’s very own managing director, who has a wealth of experience helping companies build marketing programs that drive sustainable revenue growth. Let’s get his thoughts on the state of thought leadership today and how a B2B company can stand out in a crowded industry.

Positioning Your New Idea as Thought Leadership

Q: We know how crucial thought leadership is going to be for most B2B marketing strategies going forward. Based on the 2021 survey by LinkedIn and Edelman, we also know that there are many issues plaguing existing thought leadership content, chiefly a lack of original, high-quality ideas. This leads to my first question for you: what do you consider a “new idea” in thought leadership? 

A: You’re absolutely right. These days, pretty much every marketing team on the planet is churning out what they think is “thought leadership” content, when in reality, they are taking very similar approaches to writing about the same topics. This creates a lot of noise in search engines, social media, and other marketing channels. 

However, all this noise simply isn’t very helpful for business leaders and executives. Their worlds are changing more rapidly than ever. Whether they are responding to a pandemic, to new competitors disrupting their space, or new categories emerging around them, what they actually need is content that can help them understand the nature of that change.

In essence, a “new idea” in thought leadership is a new idea that helps audiences reframe their understanding of their world and how to capitalize on change.

Q: Would you consider a different take on an existing issue or problem a “new idea” in thought leadership? 

A: I think we see that a lot in content marketing. However, I see this more as a new perspective and not a new idea in the sense that people are still fundamentally writing about the same things and saying very similar things. That’s completely different from what I believe a “new idea” is.

How Is a New Idea Different from a New Perspective?

Q: You’ve drawn a clear line between a “new perspective” and a “new idea” when it comes to thought leadership. Why is this differentiation so important?  

A: The reason we need a “new idea” and not a “new perspective” is because our fundamental challenge as marketers is the status quo. 

The status quo is what customers are doing right now. It may not be the most efficient or effective solution, but they have learned to live with it. Because they’ve invested money in it and structured their organizations and processes around it—there’s a ton of inertia there with the status quo.

As marketers, we want to shift people off the status quo and get them to adopt a new solution. That’s why we need a “new idea” that’s powerful enough to make them reevaluate the status quo, to ask questions about what they’re doing and whether or not it’s the most effective. In my opinion, a “new perspective” doesn’t quite carry the same impact.

Q: Have you come across any “new ideas” that caught your eye recently?

A: Glad you asked. I just came across Wistia, a video hosting platform like YouTube that focuses on business audiences. Their “new idea” is what they call “brand affinity.”  The underlying premise of this idea is that no one wants to see ads anymore. The way that brands win in today’s world is by creating great content that people can binge on. This creates “brand affinity,” which is a lot more valuable than clicks and completion rates for videos. Their whole push as a company is centered around brand affinity marketing. 

It was a new idea I hadn’t come across before. It was something that I got very excited to learn more about. Once I got their perspective on how the world is changing and how the old ways of marketing aren’t as effective anymore, I was able to relate it to what I’ve been seeing at our agency. This, in turn, inspired me to find out more about how our agency could win through brand affinity marketing. 

This is an instance of a great “new idea” that differentiates them within a crowded market. It really drove awareness around a change that I wasn’t on top of and the need for new solutions and strategies to stay ahead of that.

Packaging and Selling Your New Idea

Q: While there is obviously no one-size-fits-all approach here, do you have any general advice on kick-starting the process of generating a new idea?

A: I would suggest you first start by understanding your audience. Who are the buyer personas? What are they doing today? What is the status quo? What do they like about the status quo? What are their existing pain points?

You should also step out and look at what’s going on in their businesses and the competitive environment in the industry as a whole. What are some of the macro trends and changes going on in the world that they may not be effectively addressing, yet?

Ideally, you’d be able to make a connection between their existing pain points and the changes going on in the world. This is where you would shift from a research phase into more of a creative ideation phase. You want to frame this change in a way that necessitates a change in their strategies and priorities—that shifts them off of that status quo with urgency.

Q: Let’s say you’ve managed to come up with a fantastic new idea. How do you convince your audience to buy into your new idea?

A: At the very least, you need to be able to support your idea with solid data and evidence, so it doesn’t end up as just another advertising idea. Since we’re talking about the B2B space where change is expensive, you must also be able to make a business case for your new idea with your content. We’re talking well-researched case studies and white papers. We’re talking buying guides and implementation guides to help buyers move through the buying process.

Great ideas have legs and they travel well, so I would also recommend making your new idea freely accessible. You can see that with some of the top brands, who are gradually doing away with those lead generation forms. By making it easier to access and distribute their ideas, their customers and prospects end up being their advocates and champions, which further lends credibility to their new ideas.

Q: Last question. What do you think is the biggest challenge to overcome when launching your new idea?

A: I think the biggest challenge with a great idea is getting buy-in across all stakeholders, since the biggest and most impactful ideas can actually inform company strategy and direction. 

That is why it is absolutely essential that every single person in the company is aligned with the idea. You want the executive team to buy in and communicate this idea. You want marketing to be sharing this idea across all channels. You want the sales team having conversations around this idea. You also need your product team on the same page, so they can develop features that better support and amplify your idea, which increases your company’s differentiation.


Kickstarting Your Journey to be the Voice of Reason

We certainly hope that this conversation with Matthew has shed new light on some key insights and best practices when it comes to B2B thought leadership marketing. 

Not sure how to get started? You can reach out directly to Brighttaill to learn more about our services and how we can position you as an authoritative thought leader in a crowded B2B marketplace, no matter if you’re a small business looking to disrupt the status quo or a large corporation looking to capitalize on your existing reputation.

The Author

David Ho

David hails from a rather unorthodox background in writing and applied linguistics. He wandered the wilderness of sales and tech recruitment for close to 3 years before coming home to content writing.

David Ho