Our Theale seminar on "Thought leadership on a budget" particularly looked at how business technology and professional firms can generate great insights and use this to position themselves as leaders in their market.

Some of the key points discussed were:

The term "thought leadership" is jargon and potentially very misleading.  Be clear at the start what you mean (and be clear that others share and agree with this meaning).  For instance:

- are you really talking about generating blue-sky thinking that knocks the Harvard Business School off its pearch (probably not for most businesses)

- are you looking at generating fresh insights at the edge of current knowledge of a particular problem

- are you looking to create lots of "how to do it" and best practice white papers (a good thing to do, but not really though leadership unless they really have something very novel in them - although best practice by its nature is mainstream knowledge, not leading edge ideas)

This sounds academic, but many technology firms produce lots of fairly technical papers related to their products, label them thought leadership, and then wonder why there are not having a big impact.

Related to this is the importance at the start of the programme of the need to be clear about your objectives for the programme (again, lack of clarity here will cause big problems and potentially conflict later in the programme).  Objectives could be, for instance:

- Influence government on a particular issue

- Generate cold leads

- Position your firm as expert on an emerging issue

- Share with senor executives at clients to help with cross-selling

- For use as content for your website, social media and/or direct marketing

Being clear on objectives is key.  For instance, a technical paper by itself is unlikely to appeal to either senior executives nor the national media - they are more interested in strategic and public policy issues.  If this is not set in writing in the programme then different parties involved pull in different directions.

Further areas covered included:

Thought leadership is older than you think (as an example Adam Smith in the eighteenth century, who wrote the first best-selling business book , The Wealth of Nations, and embarked on a European lecture tour to promote his insights (& presumably book sales too). 

Techniques for generating insights on a low or zero budget (together with examples of businesses doing this)

A case study of how a three-person Kelso technology client became market leader within 10 years, and how its thought-leadership approach enabled it to ensure it was always on the tender list and able to beat larger rivals to win blue chip clients.  There was also a great example from the audience of how a partner in their law firm who had grown his practice from just about himself to the largest in the firm over seven years through establishing himself as an expert in the education sector.

Getting the PR right(which you'd expect from Kelso!)

We will be doing the seminar again in London and the Thames Valley in 2012 (probably a couple of times in each location).  For further details please see www.kelsopr.com/seminars (if some dates are not yet confirmed, please register you name and we will let you know when they are set).

 

 

 

 

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