In an effective thought leadership program, content development is only one of the planks. There needs to be a strong connection between building the overall brand and, importantly, positioning specific individuals — the visible experts. Without that, firms and their executives miss the personal connections that are at the heart of any professional services business. And, clearly, a robust rollout plan is essential — one that transcends the hype of any single channel (think Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, video, conferences).
Without a strategic plan that is built around what your clients want, need and value, even the most interesting ideas and insights will fail to break through the wall of noise in business communications today.
When all three planks of the platform are solidly in place, the opportunities for you to achieve visibility and drive growth increase dramatically. You become sought out for your insights, to the point of becoming magnets for new clients. Your ability to close sales improves, as does your ability to maintain margins. In short, you become the visible expert — a game changer who builds client confidence while filling the sales pipeline.
Out of sight, out of mind
Most executives in professional services firms — consultancies, law firms, accounting and tax firms, technology companies with a services arm, and so forth — have ideas worth sharing. Indeed, firms are often chock full of experts who bring market perspective and frontline client experience to the table.
Day-in and day-out, you see your clients making headway addressing complex issues or applying innovations, and you grasp the importance of sharing leading practices and framing options in the context of your clients’ challenges. You have the potential to advance the collective thinking.
Yet you may lack visibility with the specific decision-makers and influencers you need to reach in order to grow the business.
Simply put, you struggle to find the time to crystallize your ideas — and then get them to the people and markets that matter most. Focused on running the practice, serving clients, selling, recruiting and developing talent, you have a hard time stepping away to challenge, frame and shape your thinking. In short, you lack a disciplined, strategic approach that allows you to drive the debate while building your “personal eminence.”
You’re not alone. The world of professional services is filled with “invisible experts” who aren’t sure how their ideas and points of view stack up in markets filled with lots of other experts, all of whom want to be known and valued for their insights, but none of whom seem to know how to accelerate that process of becoming known.