There are two general conditions that define a business. A business either brings a low price or a high value.
The low price model can survive and thrive over the long-term if they can scale to a level where the volume creates a competitive advantage at a profitable price level. In a nut shell that works for large organizations with a lot of capital and not well for SMB organizations.
The high value conditions are ideal for SMB organizations. High value assumes the SMB organization does something the customer can’t do or do as well for themselves. The something can be highly skilled deployment and that works until a competitor or the customer develop the same skill.
Over the long-term a better way to add value is through “though leadership” which is a continuous improvement and development path based on a deep understanding of the problem being solved and the customer. This can be sustainable for a long period of time and has little cost beyond a commitment to a customer focused innovation culture.
“Thought leadership” can be and should be the strategy for much of the SMB business community. It is very real and sustainable over a long period of time or it can be a temporary “marketing hype” and that deception will be quickly discovered and appropriately rewarded.