You Thought You Displayed Thought Leadership - Think Again!
An intriguing research study clearly shows that senior corporate executives want thought leadership . . . tailored to their needs, and in particular they want it tailored to their INDUSTRY. From a survey of over 500 senior executives compiled by the insightful Grist (www.gristonline.com) team, 91% RESPONDED that "thought leadership is either critical or important to their decision-making when appointing an advisor."
These executives immediately review the industry specializations, service offerings and capabilities of the professional services firm creating the thought leadership. Given a choice, 71% PREFER an INDUSTRY FOCUS, which has massive implications. For example, if you were to examine any law firm’s website that identifies “Thought Leadership” you are likely to find a sub-listing of Publications, Blogs, Videos, Events, Webinars and Podcasts; but nowhere would you find industry break-down specifics. It’s all just one hodge-podge that prospects and clients are expected to sort through. Yeah right!
Not surprisingly, Grist’s research found that senior executives across 10 different industries DIFFERED in what they were looking for. By way of example, the Automotive executives were more focused on the short-term and value the views of their customers; while in Banking, emerging trends are more important when evaluating the expertise of advisors. Those in the Telecom industry value forward thinking less than all other industries, but opinions more; and in Manufacturing an edge over competitors is more important than best practices.
Overall, the most valued qualities in thought leadership today are forward thinking, action-oriented and fresh thinking (see attached illustration). The top reasons these senior executives consume thought leadership are to enable them to make better decisions; evaluate the expertise and insight of potential advisors; help them understand best practice; gain a competitive edge; and keep informed of emerging trends.
> PRESCRIPTIVE ACTION: to be perceived as a valuable thought leader you need to create original, fresh content that inspires and educates. One of your most powerful strategies is to instigate proprietary research involving members of the industry you are most interested in influencing. Do that by developing and distributing a formal survey or by initiating interviews with members of a particular targeted industry (or industry micro-niche). Your goal is to solicit C-Suite opinions, learn about their critical issues, and identify specific pain points. The results can then be used to draft thought leadership content offering new insights and fresh thinking, which you can overlay with your industry team’s own remedial approaches, deep expertise and unique point of view.