26 Apr 2012
Despite the obvious benefits, the beauty of a great thought leadership campaign is the spin off it can create for that person or the brand.
Take Dove for example. Their Campaign for Real Beauty is one of the best examples of a consumer thought leadership campaign I
have seen (see the case study I wrote up about it here). It has spawned a content-rich environment for them around this topic to such a degree that they pretty much ‘own’ the discussions around real beauty.
Dove displays innovation driven by their thought leadership position
Their next move announced this week is brilliant – a ‘Dove ad makeover’ Facebook app, which allows Facebook users to displace existing advertising messages on their pages with positive ads from Dove.
This is great innovation driven by a thought leadership position on real beauty.
Check this brief You Tube clip out to get the idea http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhI3Wzs2gJA&feature=player_embedded
I’d be interested in your thoughts.
I’m a director at Sydney-based, Cannings Corporate Communications. Please check out my book: Brand Stand: seven steps
to thought leadership, follow me on twitter @thoughtstrategy or join me on LinkedIn.
24 Apr 2012
The Adventure Project is a not for profit which had one chance to get a $25,000 matching grant to help bring clean water and jobs to India. What I love about Becky Straw and Jody Landers’ story are the simple lessons they provide for anyone wanting to be a successful thought leader.
Did they achieve their objective – you’ll have to read on to see…
But what they did provide for me are four telling tips for people wanting to be thought leaders.
Provide your audience with a great solution
Apparently over 30% of the wells in India and Africa are broken. Most wells break within the first two years, and there are no mechanics or spare parts to fix them. It was this problem that drove The Adventure Project to come up with the following solution:
“We created a partnership with Water for People, with a goal of helping them to hire and train 186 well mechanics in rural India. Once those mechanics are trained and working, they can sustainably provide clean water for 930,000 people.”
Thought leadership thrives on simple messages
In order to address this solution, Becky and Jody came up with a simple, singular and powerful message for their fund raising efforts:
“It only takes $550 dollars for you to help one person to become a well mechanic in India. That person will receive the tools and training to maintain 50 wells, ensuring clean, sustainable water for 5,000 people.
“Obviously, there’s a lot more to this business model, but we didn’t want to bog down the reader with everything but the kitchen sink. We wanted individuals to feel empowered by a simple solution and understand the basic facts.”
Thought leaders know their audience
Did Becky and Jody know their audience?
Damn right they did:
With only 1,600 email subscribers and 2,000 donors they had to reach people personally. They knew that their best responses come from emailing people directly and while this is time consuming, it was worth it. The night before World Water Day they enlisted 200 people who agreed to blog or share their message online.
These 200 people were the key drivers behind the campaign’s reach and were responsible for $14,000 in donations through their personal fundraising pages.
What I like about Jody and Becky’s approach with their audience is that they made it personal. No spray and pray here.
Thought leaders provide the tools to share
The goal was to make it easy for their supporters to grab and share the message. On World Water Day they had three interns thank donors via email, while attaching a Facebook cover image. This was to make donors feel appreciated and part of our team.
The end result
So did Becky and Jody get there?
You bet – by 11 p.m. they crossed the $25,000 mark which triggered a matching grant from TPRF. Over 500 individuals contributed.
The $50,000 they raised will create 100 jobs for future well mechanics, bringing sustainable water to nearly half a million people in rural India.
Great work and some wonderful lessons for aspiring thought leaders.
Hi, I’m a director at Sydney-based, Cannings Corporate Communications. Please check out my book: Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership, follow me on twitter @thoughtstrategy or join me on LinkedIn.
19 Apr 2012
I was recently invited by Dan Levy, the editor of Sparksheet (an ward-winning media and marketing magazine), to submit an article on thought leadership. This article first appeared on Sparksheet this week.
For some years I have been banging on about how thought leadership is the new sales Trojan Horse i.e the way to equip sales teams with the game-changing insights they need to have the conversations with their clients that differentiate them from their
competition and set them up for the sale. Then a few weeks ago I came across a wonderfully evocative phrase – “Content is digital bait”.
My first reaction was I wish I had come up with that. Of course I did, whenever something or someone validates our point of
view our natural reaction is to love it.
It appeared in WPPs Atticus volume 17 as a summary of The Future of Selling white paper produced by OgilvyOne Worldwide (NY) and Ogilvy & Mather (NY). The paper delivers a telling insight into how the world of selling has changed – brands of choice are now those brands that show, through providing useful, insightful content, they understand their consumers’ issues.
From consumer to ‘contsumer’
The selling game has changed irreversibly. The sheer weight of information available to buyers these days means the buyer is in
control. They are less reliant on sales people and they build trust in the brand long before they come into physical contact with it.
I call them ‘contsumers’ and Sparksheet has called them ‘prosumers’. ‘Contsumers’ are hungry for information, they seek out online as much information as possible to help inform their decision making process. And given the information available on the company website, competitors’s websites, consumer and consumer group reviews, media reviews and the like they have as much control over the flow of information as salespeople. They have conversations with their brands via twitter, the web, FaceBook, LinkedIn and blogs let alone other consumers thus creating their own path to purchase.
Unfortunately this means salespeople are no longer in control. Their role has changed. They need to identify where the customer is on this journey of discovery and help them.
It is the brands that best understand their customer, the issues and challenges they face and then provides them with useful, insightful content where they consume it, who are the ones rapidly becoming the brands of choice.
Content vs thought leading content
There is a distinction though between useful content and thought leading content. Hints and tips for example about health and wellbeing, insurance, savings and retirement, the pitfalls of cross border mergers and acquisitions, etc falls into the useful content bucket.
Thought leading content is not peddling an opinion, putting out a list of hints and tips nor curating other people’s content. Instead it is a new, fresh perspective, preferably based on empirical evidence that delivers value beyond the product or service.
Thought leadership and sales
For brands to lift their content from useful to thought leading content, marketing and communications department needs to be working with their sales teams.
The better understanding the marketing team has of the day-to-day challenges the sales team faces and critically the questions their customers are asking them and their key issues and challenges, the better the thought leadership piece will be in the long run.
As the Ogilvy Paper says: “Selling may have once been an individual event, but now it is a team sport.”
Successful selling has always been about the customer and that should never change but tomorrow’s successful salesperson is the one who anticipates their customers’ changing behavior, analyzes their needs and finds ways to solve their problems.
This goes to very crux of what thought leadership content should provide to a brand’s audiences – information that delivers insights to help them solve a problem or view their challenges in a different light all the while positioning you as the ‘go to’ expert.
Selling has changed irrevocably
“The future of selling” paper saw Ogilvy research over 1,000 selling professionals in the UK, US, Brazil and China. One of the key findings was that 73% of those surveyed said that selling will be radically different in the next five years. What the study found was that the key is information asymmetry – in other words the number of online and information channels a brand owns allowing it to gain a head start on another brand.
The paper says: “The new skillset required by salespeople involves creating content as digital bait, deploying social media and partnering with marketing.
“Your customers and prospects are throwing off billions of digital buying indications every day. They signal their intentions through the search key words they use, the blogs they read, the white papers they download and the shopping baskets they fill.”
Brands not driving new content or exploring thought leadership as an option, will come second.
I am a director at Sydney-based, Cannings Corporate Communications. You should check out my book: “Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership” Please follow me on twitter @thoughtstrategy or join me on LinkedIn.
18 Apr 2012
I saw this defnition this morning on reading this blog, which by the way is one of the most refreshingly different views on thought leadership I have ever read. Read the blog here: http://futureofcio.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/five-nature-views-of-thought-leadership.html
This is the definition:
“Thought Leadership is the art of visionary leadership, more authentic than charismatic; more influential than controlling, more thinking than talking; perceiving, not just seeing.”
12 Apr 2012
The Economist called the Global Innovation 1000 “the most comprehensive assessment of the relationship between R&D investment and corporate performance,” and
Tom Peters praised it as a “provocative, research-based article that is
sure to get you thinking.”
I have long been an admirer of Booz&Co’s thought leadership work around their Innovation 1000 project. For two years they were voted as generating the best thought leadership across all professional services firms according to Source for Consulting.
So I took the liberty of approaching Barry Jaruzelski who heads up the program to ask him a few questions about it. This is what he had to say:
1. First off could you give a brief overview of Booz & Company’s Innovation thought leadership campaign?
Every year since 2005, Booz & Company has conducted the Global Innovation 1000 study, which investigates the relationship between how much companies invest in R&D and their overall financial performance — and every year, we reinforce the core conclusion that there is no statistically significant correlation between the two.
The study examines the R&D spending of the 1,000 largest public companies and also explores a particular “deep dive” topic on innovation. The Innovation 1000 study serves as an umbrella for a range of other viewpoints, articles, and conference and
university speaking engagements on innovation.
We release the results in October of each year to the public via a press release, targeted media outreach and distribution to our client community. In addition, at launch we conduct a series of webinars for our firm’s alumni, study participants, and clients.
2. Please explain the business rationale behind Booz & Company’s focus on a thought leadership platform
and why Innovation was chosen as a topic?
As a firm, we have had a 60 plus year commitment to consulting on innovation, starting with a seminal article in 1950 in the Harvard Business Review which defined the concept of the Product Life Cycle for the first time. We conduct a wide variety of engagements and research on product development process improvement, R&D strategy, engineering effectiveness, and innovation organization for a broad range of clients.
Innovation is one of the eight core functional client service areas that we offer across our full range of industry groups. The Innovation 1000 study is a conversation starter with senior executives and serves as an umbrella for a wide range of intellectual capital on various aspects of innovation.
This study is important because it both builds our profile and builds our knowledge bank.
3. What business objectives did you/do you put in place, how do you measure them and how is your thought leadership campaign delivering on these?
In broad terms, we expect this study to achieve the following objectives:
1) Place Booz & Company in top tier business media worldwide as a leader in innovation thinking and research. In order to
evaluate our campaign we track media coverage , social media mentions, traffic to booz.com and strategy-business.com .
The study is cited each year in nearly 200 publications around the globe, spanning 27 countries.
2) Provide an effective vehicle to interest and engage clients and prospective clients. This is more difficult to track and measure, but we try to track the interest, leads and sales we generate that are directly and/or indirectly related to Innovation 1000.
3) Help secure speaking engagements – We track this in comparison to targets and the number of speaking engagements in prior years.
4. How do you ensure audience relevance in what you are publishing / researching?
Each year, we begin with a set of “candidate” subject focus areas which are discussed among a diverse set of partners and principals from various practice groups. The subject areas are debated for macro relevance, interest among clients and
overall feasibility. Every year we also discuss potential topics with clients and invite them to participate in the research via interviews on the “deep dive” topic.
5. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your thought leadership over the past few years?
We now spend much more time translating each piece of thought leadership into multiple formats to reach a wider variety of audiences more effectively. This includes translating our ideas into multi-media, social media and media-friendly formats.
There is such a barrage of information that our clients and audiences face that we have to work harder to stand out, attract attention and ensure our “big ideas” get heard. As well, while we still generate an incredibly extensive amount of IC, we are even more strategic about our focus areas and resource allocation. What hasn’t changed is our focus on thought leadership as a critical area of differentiation for our firm. The company White Space actually tracks the intellectual capital efforts of the consulting
industry and it has has rated Booz & Company #1 in Thought Leadership for the past two consecutive years. This is an honor we are extremely proud to achieve.
6. What have been some of the spinoffs of your focus on innovation? These could be internal (within Booz & Company) or external.
We have received invitations to write bylined or guest articles in other publications and to join advisory boards of clients and innovation-related associations (e.g. PDMA)
7. Given your experience, what are some of the tips you can share in terms of arriving at and getting a thought
leadership program off the ground?
Build a smart and strong team that is consistently committed to “putting in the work” over a number of years to build name recognition and profile.
Ensure that certain elements of your program are repeatable so you can scale and build success that you can recreate annually. And perhaps most importantly, do not over reach and create a program that collapses under its own weight after just one year
because it is too ambitious and demanding to sustain.
Take the long view and build something that is sustainable and focused on quality.
8. What have been the top three outcomes of Booz & Company’s thought leadership campaign?
1) Top Tier media coverage globally, client interest and engagements
2) Building a strong brand as a firm with proven expertise in innovation (from ideation to process to execution and everything in between)
3) Being ranked as one of the top firms in innovation consulting
11 Apr 2012
Intuitively one senses that there are different levels of thought leadership. After all how do you compare Mahatma Gandhi,
Steve Jobs, Khalil Gibran or the IBM Smarter Planet campaign on the same level when it comes to thought leadership?
While there will most certainly be similar characteristics they are fundamentally different.
It was a response from Dr Liz Alexander to one of my recent posts that really got me thinking about this. She has been playing
around with a three-tier concept of thought leadership which she’s very kindly allowed me to share here. However, I have added one of my own and I’d be interested in your thoughts:
1. The Philosophers — Liz says that these are the meta-thinkers and in her mind, the really true thought leaders. In the environment that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book The Black Swan, refers to as “Extremistan” (the place we live in today and will always do so as life becomes more complex and faster paced) they are better placed than most since they tend to occupy academia (like Clayton Christensen or the co-authors of Blue Ocean Strategy) or the highest realms of corporate leadership. In
Extremistan, so Taleb points out, “it takes a long time to know what’s going on” and “it’s hard to predict things from past information.” You need time, patience, the right environment, and a fixation on “why” questions to successfully navigate this terrain.
Their focus is on change at a societal level. Not for them the superficial questions of “how are we going to be more
innovative or more productive?”
2. The Problem-Solvers - Liz describes them as consultants and in-house thinkers who operate at a secondary level of thought leadership. Their focus is less high-brow than the philosophers but they are still concerned with change (hence they still deserve the “leadership” status)…only their issues are at an industry level. They’re the ones asking the “what?” questions.
3. The Practitioners – According to Liz these are the wannabe thought leaders. She maintains they operate more like “thought managers”. She questions the quality of their thinking. Why? Because she maintains they are merely content marketers, curators or those masquerading as “leaders”.
They ask “how” questions and are less likely to hit upon anything monumental because of their focus on incrementally improving what we already know.
But I have another to add:
4. The Innovators – these are people or groups who truly are innovative with their thoughts and their actions. Think of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Da Vinci and the list goes on.
They not only think and solve problems but they literally reframe our very being, the way we think, communicate and work. They lead the market. They go beyond the problem solvers, who typically operate at the level of addressing issues and challenges
faced by their market.
Innovators break the mould and create totally new discussions and paradigms e.g. they are the ones who invent the car when everyone else is thinking about faster horses.
Liz says that what differentiates these three groups (now four with my Innovators) is not just the goals they have and the questions they ask but the qualitative difference in their thought processes.
I look forward to Liz’ further thinking on this which will be published in the book she is currently writing.
Craig Badings is a director at Sydney-based, 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 twitter @thoughtstrategy or join him on LinkedIn.