Thought Leadership or Thought Leadership
The emphasis is the difference between new business and being deleted. Leadership gets you new business and commands higher rates. You are an educator. You are a source of new, original knowledge. Leadership means your clients and potential clients will look for your thoughts—and, best of all—USE your thoughts.
Thought Leadership remains one of the single most powerful business development and marketing tools in existence—bar none.
Clients report receiving between several hundred and thousands of email alerts posing as thought leadership. Most law firms use high-volume email alerts and reports based on secondary research. Many law firms are using the same secondary research as everyone else and don’t discuss conclusions—so they have trouble differentiating their message. Few get noticed, even fewer are read, and even fewer are remembered. More and more are blocked. One clever CMO uses the growing number of unsubscribe requests to justify the firm cutting back on the number of e-alerts.
Firms develop the leadership portion of thought leadership by doing one or more of the following:
- Creating a topic.
- Using information others don’t have.
- Sharing specific opinions others are reluctant to discuss.
- Being first on a topic.
- Developing hypotheses and drafts for expected—and unexpected—outcomes. While major issues are brewing have outcome-dependent solutions fully prepared for when issues break—enabling the firm to be first to market.
- Investing more than everyone else by performing original and primary research to define new issues, and developing their research to explore and explain the impacts of the issue.
- Crafting a high-powered marketing campaign to support the message—typically including press coverage, online video presentations, webinars, private briefings to clients, live summits to discuss the topic, blog posts, Google AdWords, tweets and more.
- Staking out a high-visibility existing topic or high-profile business-related issue.
- Developing a single, thematic delivery vehicle—such as a white paper, published report or PowerPoint deck to present to clients and upload to SlideShare.
Several law firms have dedicated staff to develop their thought leadership—developing ideas no one else has come up with—and generating the writing and thought pieces for the firm, key partners or both.
Clients, both existing and new, flock to fresh, easy-to-read and truly insightful thoughts which bring them benefit. Everyone tries to be a thought leader—the few thought leaders are the ones taking business from everyone else.