Thought leadership is front and centre of ambitious firms striving to be preeminent in their field. So what does effective thought leadership look like in 2022?
In a recent PM Forum session Andrew Rogerson (Grist), Zelinda Bennett (DWF) and Siobhan Reynolds (ByrneWallace LLP) covered just this. Andrew presented findings from the Value of B2B thought leadership survey (a survey of 600 senior decision-makers at global organisations across multiple sectors) and Siobhan and Zelinda enriched the discussion with examples and insights from their law firms. Here is my summary;
Decisions makers are consuming more thought leadership post Covid-19. During the pandemic decision-makers looked to experts for answers and guidance and this trend seems to have continued with 41% reporting they consume more thought leadership, interestingly 34% said they consume the same whilst 24% said they consume less.
Thought leadership is critical in appointing an advisor. Decision-makers are consuming thought leadership so they can evaluate the expertise of potential advisors. In short, if you are not creating regular thought leadership that demonstrates your expertise, you are missing out on a massive opportunity to promote yourself to your potential clients.
Thought leadership is consumed to enable better decisions making. Zelinda illustrated this nicely with what law firms clients are asking for; "Horizon scan for me, tell me what coming, give me the solutions and make me look good". Law firms should strive to add value in their thought leadership. Siobhan added that clients have a job to do, and they want to get the best advice to do their job well.
The three most valued qualities of thought leadership are 1) Fresh Thinking, 2) Forward-Thinking and 3) Action-Orientated. Siobhan mentioned that some lawyers can be hesitant in putting all their great knowledge out for free, after all, it is the expertise that clients pay for! To combat this, Siobhan encourages an action-orientated approach, ultimately great thought leadership pieces are ones that create a need for clients or prospects to get in touch.
Not one size fits all, Tailor what you are doing. Target audiences can be diverse so one technique Siobhan recommends to cut through the noise is to use multiple formats of the same thought leadership e.g If you have a great research paper then you can also create supplementary audio resources/podcast, videos or visually striking PDFs.
People want to hear from Industry Experts.
It comes as no surprise that Industry Experts are the preferred choice of thought leadership.
Both Zelinda and Siobhan were in agreement that this is something you need to communicate with your lawyers internally to make sure they understand that they are the ones the clients want to hear from. What is the best way to engage your internal audience? Zelinda's advice - You've got to listen to the lawyer's ideas, bring them in and make them feel part of the thought leadership process. People are more likely to support an idea if it is their own. Siobhan's advice - Start small and identify a group that can be your Champions. You can't get everyone going right away, so pick a few and run with it.