For many of us, the changing of the calendar from one year to the next is our opportunity to re-focus priorities and re-energize actions around the things that matter – both personally and professionally. Of course, being in the tech industry, we don’t enjoy the luxury of “introspection” just once a year – especially considering the competitive landscape and how fast things are moving forward.

While building a program for a client, I came across this excellent blog post from Forrester tech marketing analyst, Stephen Davidson.  Read it here. Davidson identifies a number of key actions that brands in the tech industry should focus on in the coming year. The thing that jumped out at me from the piece was the emphasis Davidson placed on using thought leadership as a brand-building tool. When you think about it, so much of the messaging we see in the tech marketplace is product-focused. What does X product do? Why is it better than competitive products? Why should you buy it?

Here’s one question we all should consider: Who really cares? While not a bad strategy by any means, it’s still only product marketing where there is an inherent credibility gap when dealing with today’s savvy consumers.

I’ve read a lot of marketing babble regarding the definition of thought leadership and here is one from Eric Wittlake that I think is worth pondering:

Thought leadership is about sharing insights and content that meets a known or unmet demand, challenge or issue in your audiences’ lives.”

As Davidson suggests, a better resolution for your brand in 2012 is to create differentiation in the marketplace through thought leadership. Use your marketing and communications efforts to provoke interest and dialogue among all audience stakeholders versus simply pushing out content about product features.  I know it may seem basic on the face of it but I think a reminder serves us all well.

Something to add to your “to-do” list for 2012! 

– Janet Tyler is the president at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agencywith offices in Silicon Valley and Detroit.