Comprehensive thought leadership consulting for B2B & professional services firms

Thought Leadership Success Factor No. 2: Patience

There are no short cuts to thought leadership. None. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably sold a get-rich-quick scheme in a previous career.

In my last post, I laid out the first factor behind companies that excel at thought leadership marketing: a big appetite for differentiating their product/service offering on the basis of possessing truly unique expertise. These companies don’t want to compete on price — whether they are an IT services firm that can’t match the costs of the offshoring contingent or a consulting firm whose brochures make it indistinguishable from hundreds of advisers in supply chain improvement.

This post is about the second of my five factors: organizational patience.

If it were easy to become recognized by the market as a thought leader, everyone’s phones would be ringing regularly with journalists asking for opinions, management journal editors seeking article submissions, and conference organizers looking for keynote speakers.   I probably don’t need to tell you that for most people, this isn’t the case, even for many self-proclaimed thought leaders.

There are no short cuts to thought leadership. None. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably sold a get-rich-quick scheme in a previous career.

Getting recognized as a thought leader is the result of a) developing profound, new insights on a complex issue (insights backed by real-world evidence), and b) getting those insights into the marketplace through articles, speeches, books and other educational marketing channels.

Being recognized as a thought leader may not require 10 years.  But it doesn’t happen in 10 days. And that’s what separates those who are good at thought leadership marketing from those who struggle. The good ones realize the time and effort required to develop a profound, fact-based point of view – and the time to attract an audience to it.  Each can take several months or more. (As an example, it took Deloitte Consulting a year to develop a point of view on the topic of business model innovation, and then another year for its ideas to appear as a cover article in Harvard Business Review in 2003.  We know because we helped them develop their ideas and submit the article.)

Those hoping this timeline would be measured in weeks are the ones who issue superficial points of view that we’ve all heard elsewhere. Nothing new. Or at least, nothing new that’s been substantiated.

And when a great point of view is developed (over months) and marketed (over months), great things happen. The phone rings from people who will pay you handsomely for your expertise.

Another great thing happens: You create a temporary barrier for the next person or firm who wants to one-up you on your topic. To have anything new and substantiated to say on that topic, they too must go through an intensive POV development and marketing effort.

Without patience, there is no payoff to thought leadership marketing.

Originally published 06/18/2010

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