Easier Thought Leadership
Yes, that’s Seth Godin to your left. He has been a master thought leader since the mid-1990’s. He has made a lot of money doing that by being opinionated, smart, a prolific writer and global speaker. A serious thought leader. You can do it (well a form of it) too. Here’s a how-to to get this important job done faster.
Let’s start with a definition for thought leadership from Wikipedia (of course.)
A thought leader can refer to an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.
Let’s unpack this:
“A thought leader can refer to an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field…” Two obvious points; It is good to be 1) recognized as an authority (as in known for your gray matter and insights vs. being invisible) and 2) it is good for your personal or company brand to be specialized vs. a generalist in today’s fragmented marketing environment.
“…and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Another obvious point, it is good to be sought after and rewarded.
If thought leadership can actually deliver “recognition” and “rewards” for you and your agency… then do it.
This is about getting your unignorable on (read this post about how to do that.)
Not So Easy…
But, the hard part is getting thought leadership done at your very busy company. I’ve seen this up close at many agencies. Too many, given how y’all can get the job done without too much pain, time and money. Read on.
A Smart Brand Position + Thought Leadership = Success
If you have been reading my stuff, you know that it is imperative for your advertising agency to have a stand-out brand position and related sales proposition. Once you have a brand position, you should support it with PROOF of your expertise. Ta Da — thought leadership.
A critical and often debilitating aspect of creating thought leadership for advertising agency marketing is that thought leadership takes time and effort. Many agencies shy away from the effort. I propose some workarounds.
I am a big fan of to-the-point white papers (as in print or video) as a driver for thought-leadership. Writing concise white papers on subjects of interest to your prospects (not other agencies, please) will support an on-going thought-leadership program. Print white papers should be short (2-4 pages) and must provide a clear benefit to your target market. Add graphics to help burn your thoughts into the mind of your ADHD client prospects. If you use video, it should be less than 2 minutes, preferably 1 minute.
Evergreen + distribution: White Papers that are not based on a specific point in time have a high evergreen quotient and travel a long way. In terms of distance and distribution, I have a Rule Of Five. Take every single piece of thought leadership and expand its reach by a factor of five…
They can be distributed directly to existing and potential clients via email or mail; on your website (giving you SEO and list building power); on Twitter, on SlideShare; as a guest post for reach; on LinkedIn via a post; on your LinkedIn company page and as a handout in prospect meetings and at conferences, etc.
You can see an example of an unexpected white paper I did on client / agency “love” that I originally shared with my clients on SlideShare. This narrowly targeted white paper has been viewed over 1,500 times. Yes, I got pissed off at a client and it drove me to talk about love and how to build a mutually beneficial agency-client relationship.
I like to write so as the CEO of my agency I wrote white papers every couple of months. This might not be in your wheelhouse. OK… just go out and find a smart business writer (there are lots of them) and get them to write for you.
One of my favorite warm calling tools is research. And, yes I have written about that too. This targeted LinkedIn post on warm vs. cold has been viewed over 3,000 times. Thought leadership travels.
I am big fan of Google Consumer Surveys. For a nominal cost, you can build a survey and use Google’s global panel to get answers within hours. I have an agency client that opens every pitch and RFP with a survey question that directly relates to a client issue.
One-third of my 65,000-word book on pitching is comprised of interviews with advertising industry leaders. I then repurpose them on my blog and as guest posts (remember the Rule Of Five.) Everyone I asked to be interviewed said yes. Easy, fast and lots of shareable copy.
You could do phone or text-based interviews. I use www.rev.com to transcribe audio interviews.
It’s 2016… Do video interviews. Make one brilliant video per week. Make it interesting, compelling, fun.
Another tried and true (and easy to do) research technique is the man-0n-the-street interview. It works because it is timely, includes the consumer / customer and is, yes folks, video. Put it in RFP’s, on your website and in your YouTube channel. And, send them in your monthly emails.