The Development and Care of Thought Leaders…
And How It Gives You the Marketing Advantage
Let’s face it – we live in a crowded world and everyone is talking at the same time.
Between blogs, articles, emails, tweets, ads and posts, we’re flooded with news, opinions, merchandise, hypotheses, calls to action and unsolicited advice. Every company is vying for your prospective clients’ attention – selling everything from grocery store delivery to mortgages to candles.
And that’s just on the consumer side.
If you’re a law firm selling to businesses, a highly competitive market adds to the complications. If 50 law firms are focused on a particular corporate legal department, how will your voice be heard?
Add a new perspective to the onslaught.
It’s time to double down on thought leadership. No matter the mode of communication, fresh and visionary topics will gain greater traction than recycled ideas.
What is a thought leader?
A thought leader is, basically, someone recognized as an expert in a given field.
How would thought leaders help our marketing efforts?
Make no mistake about it: The payoff for thought leadership doesn’t happen overnight. It works best as a component of a larger marketing strategy and plans since it takes time and a lot of hard work.
The rewards, however, can be significant and include invitations to present at conferences, media interviews, coverage, referrals, a higher level of engagement and conversion online and increased brand recognition to name a few.
How can I find thought leaders within my firm?
Most firms look from the top down. They target figures already serving as public faces for the enterprise. This approach offers advantages. Since the corner office leads the firm, they’re already looking at the big picture, not in the trenches. They are familiar with representing the law and your firm and can speak to trends and large issues. The disadvantages of this plan include time limitations and perhaps the inability to take a deep dive into issues.
I recommend a blended approach. Pull from the top, but also add legal professionals from other levels within the firm. Ideally, these could be people who work in close collaboration with clients and can offer a niche complement to the high-level thought leaders. The blended approach also builds your thought leadership team, which is helpful for planning (article calendars, blog posts, etc.) and last-minute opportunities. It’s easier to answer a last-minute media interview request when you have more than one subject matter expert who can respond.
What type of person makes a good thought leader?
Look for people who are experienced, knowledgeable, passionate and curious. They should be eloquent (or have the capacity to develop that skill), able to listen well and not afraid to ask questions. Also, find out if they have auxiliary skills that would complement your marketing strategy and speak to the practice area of focus.
How can I develop thought leaders?
Thought leaders are not made overnight. It’s a continual process. On a logistics side, ensure they are attuned to law firm and service messages and positions. Train them on the basics of public speaking, interviews, presentations and the use social media as a spokesperson. Make sure they understand the firm, its vision and plan and its clients. Work hand in hand with them to help them develop topics, angles and insight for your practice areas – ones that will catch the eye of decision makers and start valuable conversations.
How can I work with thought leaders to create new ideas?
Your thought leaders can’t flourish in a void. They must be actively involved in the community. Ask them to join associations and attend conferences. Have them speak or work with clients on a regular basis. Introduce them to other thought leaders in the field – such as those working with partner organizations or consultants. Share thought-provoking articles or social media posts with them and ask for their feedback. You can even schedule a time to interview them yourself about trends, challenges, how these apply to clients and prospects and what can be expected in the future. That session could illuminate valuable new strategies or build a repository of ideas for articles, media pitches, blog posts and more.
Now, you have a qualified and passionate thought leader. How do you establish him or her in the practice area? Well, that’s a topic for a whole new article. Reach out to me if you’re interested.