If you have a thought leadership program, it’s probably not because you are trying to drive prices higher. You’re publishing thought leadership pieces to build awareness of your product or product category, enhance SEO so shoppers can find you, or create a reputation as an expert in your field.
And yet, another reason should be you can increase your prices. Well executed thought leadership drives higher willingness to pay for both Will I? and Which One? type products. Let’s start with Which One?.
A Which One? product is one where you have competition. Your buyers are choosing between your product or a competitors. They make their choice by trading off differences in capabilities against the difference in price. These capabilities can be features, perceived quality, brand, trust, or anything else the buyer uses when making the choice.
On the other hand, thought leadership is there to help buyers who want to learn about a product category. Thought leadership often consists of high level pieces that help economic buyers understand the advantages of solving a problem, different approaches that may be taken, expected return on investment, and even some pitfalls to avoid. Executed well, thought leadership doesn’t blatantly or aggressively sell products. Rather, products get “sold” because the company providing the thought leadership builds trust, interest, and earns the right to talk about their products.
Maybe it’s obvious now, but if buyers find your thought leadership pieces first, they read them. They learn from them. They trust them and by proxy grow their trust in you. With that alone, if your product and your competitors products were identical, these buyers would be willing to pay more to purchase from you simply because they trust you more. Wow.
Thought leadership also has the ability to increase the price you get for a Will I? product.
A Will I? product is one where you don’t have competition. Your buyer chooses between buying your product or nothing in the product category. Buyers are not price sensitive when buying Will I? products so we should be focused on capturing as much of the economic value that we deliver to our customers as possible.
The impact of thought leadership on Will I? products is twofold. First, good thought leadership will increase the number of people who know solutions to problems exist and hence should increase the number of buyers regardless of price.
Second, one key point of much thought leadership is to help buyers, especially economic buyers, understand the ROI of solving specific problems. Publishing effective thought leadership pieces will drive buyers to increase their perceived economic value of solving a problem, which then increases their willingness to pay and hence your price.
Yes, thought leadership can and does drive how much our customers are willing to pay. Do you have an effective thought leadership program? Maybe you should.