Firms that sell their knowledge as services are uniquely placed to market themselves with thought leadership. In no other industry can the customer so clearly see the value to be gained by working with a particular provider so early on in their buying process.
Having seen so many professional services firms approach thought leadership in so many different ways, we're uniquely placed here at Passle to speak to what works and what doesn't.
There are so many factors that contribute to a successful thought leadership program; strategy, leadership and change management are all essential to driving results. Above those factors is a single overriding philosophy that all successful thought leadership programs have.
Here's that #1 tip for a more successful thought leadership program:
Reduce the distance between your audience and the expertise they need.
It might like a simple philosophy to follow, but in practice, there are a dozen challenges from technology to attribution that serve as barriers or distractions from holding to this principle. As a result, thought leadership programs become complicated and ineffective.
Your audience face challenges every day, they are busy, focused on a dozen different things including personal problems. Your firm and its thought leadership are not at the top of your audience's to-do list today.
Reducing the distance between your busy audience and the expertise they need means sending them genuinely useful insights, in the easiest possible form to consume when they are most relevant.
Some common ways we see this principle being applied successfully:
- Pulling the insights from a webinar, event or gated whitepaper into smaller pieces and sending them to clients that need that information
- Empowering fee earners directly to create and publish insights themselves
- Allowing clients and prospects to sign up to receive only the insights of the lawyers or sector teams that concern them
- Sharing insights into social channels where the audience is active rather than requiring them to search Google or your website
- Turning common pieces of advice into blogs or podcasts for clients and prospects to digest in their own time
The effect of reduced distance on thought leadership results
The greater the barrier between your expertise and your audience, the less that expertise will be consumed, the less the audience will benefit and the less your firm and its experts will be front of mind when a piece of work becomes available.
Experts that are close to the thought leadership they create are better able to understand the impact of their efforts, are better positioned in the minds of their audience and are able to be more active in the process of creating and sharing thought leadership in the long run.
As professional services firms adopt more modern marketing approaches, the competitive landscape shifts in favour of the firms that can be faster, more authentic and more useful in their marketing. Anyone can copy the marketing approach of another firm, but the unimitable advantage of a firm is its knowledge. The opportunity is there for marketers to use that knowledge more efficiently and effectively in the firm's marketing approach.