Thoughts on Thought LeadershipPosted by Matt Kucharski on August 25, 2010 at 2:45 PM
Had an opportunity the other day to spend some great quality time with one of Padilla's clients exploring the dimensions and implications of thought leadership campaigns. Funny how pretty much every company wants to position itself as a thought leader, but by definition, thought leaders represent a very small portion of any industry or sector. Example: The classic is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. While competitors focused on how their products can make women look beautiful, Dove decided to focus on how their products make women feel good about themselves.
One idea that really struck home with those of us in the room was how hard it is to be the thought leader if you're also the market share leader. Think about it -- thought leaders question the status quo. Market leaders ARE the status quo!
If you're thinking of embarking on a thought leadership campaign, here are five "M's" that you'll want to keep in mind.
Motivation -- what are the business drivers and conditions that are compelling you to need to establish a thought leadership position. Price pressure? Competitive threats? Pending regulation? Really ask yourself why thought leadership makes sense. Example: Chipotle realized that its ability to compel consumers to pay more for their food was predicated on positioning itself as a fresher alternative to other quick-serve restaurants. As a result its Food With Integrity campaign. The company even went so far as sponsoring a movie called Food, Inc., that's not all that flattering to the food industry.
Messages -- so what exactly are you going to say? Thought leaders are provocative and present points of view that are contrary to conventional wisdom. Are you prepared to say and do things differently -- and take the heat from those who disagree? Also, be judicious -- it's hard to be a thought leader on everything.
Messengers -- who are the content experts and "hood ornaments" in your organization that will act as the deliverers of the message? I'm a big fan of the "Posse" approach vs. the "Lone Ranger" approach -- nothing worse than watching your rock star thought leader walk out the door after you've spent a year building up their visibility. Oh, and be careful about over-using outside experts -- it's fine to be seen with other thought leaders, but if you cede all of the "thoughts" to them, you leave none for yourself.
Methods -- HOW are you going to communicate thought leadership? It's not just through the media -- or a blog -- or presentations -- or newsletters -- it's through whatever means possible that effectively reaches your target audiences. Hard to argue, for example, with IBM's Smarter Planet campaign as a great example of multi-channel thought leadership communications (albeit with a huge budget and clear ulterior motives).
Measurement -- what are your measures for success? It might be as specific as turning away a competive threat or successfully passing legislation. Or it might be more subjective -- obtaining broader awareness, justifying a price premium, or building credibility. Asking the question "how are judging success?" is an important first step in measurement -- maybe the most important.
Take The LeadPosted by on August 23, 2010 at 8:15 AM
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