A phrase originally coined by Joel Kurtzman of Booz & Co. over 20 years ago, thought leadership has entered a new age of importance with the rise of digital and social media even in the context of a professional services firm.
Good content sells
Essentially prospective clients are not that interested in hearing about your firm’s unique selling proposition or its brand – at least outside of the confines of a panel pitch – but most of them are interested in content that helps them do their jobs better.
So increasingly one of the most effective ways to get on the radar of new clients, and to demonstrate to existing clients that they are in good hands, is to consistently roll out a steady diet of interesting, useful and sometimes even breakthrough thinking in the form of blog posts, articles, publications, seminars and occasionally even good old printed books.
Getting the ball rolling
From a brand building point of view the challenge is to ensure that over time the make-up of this content leaves prospects with the lingering perceptions about your firm that you’re aiming for.
Whether this is an easy or daunting prospect to begin with depends on the existing culture surrounding thought leadership development within the firm. Many firms find that they need to go through a ‘ramping up’ phase where the relevant partners and teams are encouraged, supported and cajoled into developing their thinking and then helped to publish and communicate it to the outside world.
The increasing saliency of social media – more LinkedIn than Snapchat admittedly – among business audiences presents huge opportunities for those willing to embrace it to find an audience and to develop their thinking over time leading up to and supporting bigger set pieces such as seminars and events.
Marketing teams within firms are usually best placed to harness, educate and support those client-facing professionals who need to be integral to the development and projection of thought leadership programmes. The challenge is to get the balance right.
Activities and deliverables
- Audit of existing thought leadership content
- Audit of firm’s digital and social media channels
- Develop annual thought leadership calendar
- Form ‘editorial team’ to support thought leadership programme
- Stimulate and nurture initial ideas
- Support content development
- Drive social media campaign to support content publishing
- Review results and capture learning and best practices