According to Edelman, the five components of good thought-leadership are that it is: Relevant, Insightful, Digestible, Trusted and Current.
The challenge for us when creating and sharing content is to achieve all five of these for our clients. If we can send out information that is credible and valuable, in a concise format, at the right time, we will have been helpful. And for that, they will be thankful.
However, within a business context, knowing what is on our client's minds today is tough. Particularly if your area of expertise does not bring you into constant contact with the client.
The truth is that in complex sales, no single player should represent the knowledge of the entire organisation and, just as in offline meetings, different experts should be brought in at different times to help close a deal.
Again, just as in the offline process, the person deciding who should be communicating about what is the relationship-holder (usually Business Development, a Partner or other another Rainmaker). These people do talk to the client a lot and should be able to reach out to various experts for opinions and views on specialist areas, as they are needed.
Once the content or opinions have been published, it is then important that the BD individual shares it directly with the client, to give it context and strengthen their relationship.
If this is achieved, you will have ticked all five boxes. The Experts will not be wasting their time, writing brilliant but commercially unimportant reports and the client will feel both valued and confident about the strength-in-depth at the supplier.
The most successful thought leadership exhibits the following characteristics: Relevant and Applicable: It is timely and relevant to a specific project the recipient is currently working on (63 percent of both decision-makers and C-level executives). Industry Insights: It provides insights on specific trends and challenges within the target customer’s industry (78 percent of decision-makers; 79 percent of C-level executives) including underlying analyses of the causes and drivers of current events (63 percent; 64 percent). Digestible: It is easily consumable, including short-form content (71 percent; 67 percent) or facts, data points, charts, infographics and figures (66 percent; 63 percent). Trusted Source: It is forwarded by someone the recipient knows and respects (84 percent; 86 percent). Staying Current: It is focused on current industry topics, supplementing long-term strategic intellectual property with opportunities to have meaningful touch points with customers and prospects.