In a few weeks time I'll be on a panel at a marketing summit where I will be discussing how to measure the return of investment for Thought Leadership activities.
It sounds an esoteric subject and immediately begs some specific questions like:"What is Thought Leadership?"; "What resources are being invested and how do I cost such inputs as non-billable time?"; and "What actually is the return I am looking for and how will I know when I achieve it?".
Measuring the impact and the ROI is really fundamental, but too often businesses leave considering this until after the campaign, rather than early on as it is developed.
It's easy to start over-complicating things, so the key question management consultants and their marketing teams involved in Thought Leadership projects should be asking are:
• What is our objective? My business is going to be spending lots of time and other resources on this, so what is the big business goal we are looking to tackle? Failure to link Thought Leadership projects to your big business goals, rather than smaller tactical marketing concerns, is the big reason many flounder along the way.
• How are we going to know if we are achieving it? Don't have wishy-washy objectives like "Create a leading reputation in our market" or "Get our name out there". Make sure you have specific, SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related).
• How will I know we are on course (and how will I know if things are going wrong so I can right them)?
At the end of the project you want to be able to clearly show it achieved great results that are helping you attain one of your firm's major objectives... not least to highlight its success and help your firm assess whether more investment in these sorts of initiatives is desirable.
You also want to have measurements that act as milestones to help you know that record you are making good progress, such as signifying that elements are being delivered on time and you are getting the necessary engagement from key stakeholders, such as fellow partners.
For more information about this and all other aspects of ensuring successful thought leadership initiatives at your management consultancy, do have a look at my book The Thought Leadership Manual .