jfdi recently ran a successful new business seminar in association with The Drum. Entitled ‘Marketing to Marketers’, I was asked to present on thought leadership, which in this age of inbound marketing is increasingly valuable in achieving that prized goal – a burgeoning new business pipeline.
So, what is it? We usually understand the term to mean an individual or organisation recognised as expert in a particular field, challenging industry norms, whose views are sought after and rewarded. Most importantly, a thought leader is a trusted source, something that’s in short supply these days as news headlines testify.
I would argue that thought leadership sits at the pinnacle of the mountain of content produced by agencies every day. It’s weightier, has more gravitas and at its core is one essential truth: it drives positive change in both the attitude and behaviour of its stakeholders. Most often, those businesses that can lay claim to it have their finger firmly on the pulse of the societal and economic zeitgeist. Therefore it’s no surprise that those that lead the way include numerous tech companies (Apple, Google) and others which present a voice of authenticity and innovative working practices (John Lewis).
Whilst many agencies generate relatively little thought leadership content, it’s likely to have the most real impact on potential (and existing) clients. This makes it a worthwhile investment provided that it’s valuable, challenging and a true reflection of the agency’s positioning. Whether it takes the form of opinion pieces, white papers or specially commissioned research, ideally you want to create a debate – generating more content for you to exploit as a result.
It’s not all about the written word, of course. Experiment with different formats, for instance think about video as a platform for engagement, and let’s not forget the value of conferences and round table discussions. The more creative you are, the more ways you’ll find to extend the longevity of your thought leadership programme.
There’s an additional benefit too. It’s all well and good crafting innovative, insightful content, but without the oxygen of publicity it’s a wasted effort. These days, media outlets are hungry for opinion and once you’ve established your credentials, they’ll come back for more. Have your PR strategy in place, ideally spanning the year, then leverage your content across print and digital channels. The latter are your greatest ally; if your thinking is valued and challenging, there’s every chance it will be shared, at speed and scale.
When will you know you have become a thought leader? You’ll know, your audience will tell you. Get your data capture systems in place and follow through, these are valuable leads. There will be no greater evidence of success than your burgeoning new business pipeline.
If you would like to discuss thought leadership and it’s role within your marketing strategy in more depth then do please get in touch https://jfdi.uk.com/products/consultancy/