6 Feb 2012
I asked 12 people who I consider to be leading global commentators on thought leadership as well as a couple who have produced some amazing thought leadership programs in-house over the years to comment on four critical thought leadership questions for 2012.
Interviewees included: Bob Buday, Erica Klein, David Meerman Scott, Jeff Ernst, Rob Leavitt, Britton Manasco, Dana van den Heuvel, Matt Church, Fiona Czerniawska, Dale Bryce, Elizabeth Sosnow, Marte Semb Aasmundsen and me.
You can download the full e book here http://www.thoughtleadershipstrategy.net/2012/01/thought-leadership-e-book-12-experts-on-the-thought-leadership-challenges-of-2012/
I have summarized what I believe to the key take outs below:
Question one: What will be the single biggest change we will see in thought leadership over the coming year/s?
- Social media will continue to allow us to easily conduct research and spread ideas but it shouldn’t supplant face to face
- Recognition of thought leadership as a key sales and service driver
- Increasing integration into the strategic business development blueprint
- More sophisticated packaging and presentation
- Real-time thought leadership i.e. thought leadership that responds to what’s going on now as opposed to campaign-like programs
- A swing away from quantity to more tailored information for specific clients
- Using it as a driver for empowering and motivating sales people
- Better resources leading to increased innovation and ground breaking thinking
- Cloud computing will start playing a role in ordering content and intellectual property
Question two: From your experience, what are the biggest challenges in
getting a thought leadership program off the ground?
- Time, resources and effort
- Agreeing priorities, processes and production and documenting this in a plan
- Commitment from senior management and subject matter experts
- Lack of or not having the right thought leader champion/s
- Too much focus on products and services
- Convincing your ‘gurus’ of the big picture i.e. the benefits of a thought leadership program
- The creation of relevant, compelling content
- Being brave enough to focus on one or two areas
Question three: What are the top three outcomes of a thought leadership
- Increased awareness by your target audience of your expertise
- Business growth through better qualified leads and better close rates
- Enhanced brand reputation as insightful, innovative thinkers
- Talent retention, attraction and development
- Increased innovation around process and professional subject matter expertise
- Deepened relationships with customers resulting in better loyalty
- Willingness of people to share and talk about your thought leadership ideas/material
- People subscribing to your content (if available online)
- Enhanced prospects for winning the work you want to win
- Building expertise and reputation internally and externally
- The ability to change industry standards and drive paradigm shifts
- Galvanize client facing employees to visit and share your points of view
- Own an issue and to be recognised as the pre-eminent expert in that field
- Share of Voice, Share of Mind and therefore Share of Market
- Marketplace momentum
Question four: Can content curation alone turn an individual or company
into a thought leader?
- No it doesn’t go far enough to demonstrate that you are a leading expert on a topic
- It makes you a “me too” provider
- Maybe in the short term but you eventually lose market position
- A curator reads an idea and says ‘how can I share that?’ a thought leader reads an idea and says ‘What do I think about that?’
- Curation can signal that you understand industry trends but it is ultimately a “me, too” play
- Only if they are a skilled curator – content created by others is not nearly as valuable
- Curation complements your own more substantial research, publications, and presentations
- If the curator arrives at new ideas or insights as a result of that content then it could be construed as thought leadership.
Craig Badings is a director at Cannings Corporate Communications. He is the author of “Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership” and the blog www.thoughtleadershipstrategy.net/ You can follow him on ttwitter @thoughtstrategy or join him on LinkedIn.
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