15 Oct 2009
I had the pleasure of chatting to Dale Bryce the other day. Dale is the head of capability marketing at engineering firm Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM). I must take my hat off to him because he contacted me out of the blue after reading my book to share his and his company’s experiences of their thought leadership campaign. Professional services firms often lead on the thought leadership front but I was struck by the truly client-centred nature of SKM’s approach and have to say that their program certainly ranks up there with the best I’ve seen.
When Dale first started talking about their ‘relationship clients first’ approach I have to admit I did think to myself here we go again, another company talking about how client centric they are – aren’t they all. However, as Dale explained their approach, the way they grow with their clients, the depth of understanding they develop about their client’s businesses and the deep insights they develop as a result about the short, medium and long-term trends impacting these businesses, I realised that they truly go live the client-led relationship mantra.
The closeness of these relationships and the deep understanding SKM has developed as a result of this of their clients’ businesses and the sectors within which they operate has enabled them to craft a thought leadership campaign supported by content which delivers something of value to their clients well beyond the services they sell. By leveraging these insights into client-specific and useful information, SKM has positioned themselves as a partner of choice, in their and their client’s space.
As Dale put it to me: “We’re building reputations to win work but this should always be linked to a genuine desire to work with the client.”
SKM rolls out their thought leadership in many ways, and I cover some of those below but at the face of their campaign is their magazine achieve. Produced quarterly, each issue centres on a common theme which is of interest to a global audience across the areas of engineering, sciences and project delivery. You can check it out here http://tinyurl.com/yko2or6
As Dale explained, achieve is more than a magazine – it is a holistic, integrated, branded, multi-channel client engagement program. At the core of it are the “big picture” issues and thinking which SKM identifies thanks to their client-led relationship culture.
In order to roll out their achieve thought leadership campaign, SKM employs a number of tactics including:
· Online articles: Development of stand-alone thought leadership articles and news relevant to particular SKM client groups. These are translated into local market languages as required.
· Targeted emails to distinct client groups: Thought leadership articles are dispatched to a selected group of clients depending on the topic and in line with client preferences captured in their CRM system. Email “news” stories are also issued to clients in the same way.
· Video: A series of achieve branded videos with leading thinkers made available via links embedded in emails to clients, and with links also posted to the SKM website.
· Events/Conferences: achieve branded thought leadership events across all SKM markets.
· Advertising: achieve branded advertising campaigns developed and delivered
for a specific SKM region where awareness building is required (for example United Kingdom or Malaysia).
Dale did make the point that the constant challenge with any professional services business is to convince the “fee-earners” to overcome their reluctance to “sell” their capabilities.” While dispatching thought leadership content is one thing, proactively following up with a client is another. For this reason Dale sees SKM’s “thoughtware” as a conversation starter but getting some of the engineers to engage with clients around this is in fact the biggest challenge.
It was great to hear from Dale and I must say quite refreshing to hear about how a truly client first led relationship culture can result in something of such obvious mutual benefit and value.
If there is anyone else out there who is keen to share their thought leadership program with me please feel free to e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you.
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