Thought Leadership tensions - Part 3: Old might not be boring

By Steve Blundell - Head of Acritas Advisors

We’ve been looking at six key challenges facing the creators of thought leadership content:

  1. Picking a topic
  2. Focus and speed to market
  3. Getting value from “old” ideas
  4. Collaboration
  5. Channel issues
  6. Internal engagement

So this time we get to the third topic: getting value from “old” ideas.


Project exhaustion

Anyone who has developed a thought leadership project of any consequence will know that it’s an exhausting exercise – more so for the many law firms who are fairly new to this discipline.

We run sessions for clients called BrainWave where we plan how you get the best ROI from these projects. I’m always struck by the length of the “to do list” that emerges from these sessions. No wonder that when the report or output is finally released, there’s a collective sigh of relief, and at last, a chance to catch up on the other projects that have been languishing in the meantime.

The danger, of course, is that the best Thought Leadership project are those where the value is driven from it over a prolonged period of time.

Some of this sustained activity can be planned for: a number of communications, events etc related perhaps to different aspects of the project. Other elements of sustaining the momentum are just keeping the conversation going. This is increasingly the case where social media is concerned.

The real key here is ensuring KPIs are monitored after the launch and a regular set of post launch review meetings are planned for at the outset.


Internal competition

The Big 4 firms have long grappled with the challenge of competing internally for airtime for these projects. Your Thought Leadership gets bumped from the homepage or from internal comms after only a few days by the next shiny project. As global law firms have a growing menu of these projects, so they fall foul of the same problems.

The solution must lie in trying to be increasingly focused on the audiences who need and want to be involved in any project – but again vitally ensuring that regular updates are provided to internal stakeholders on how the project is going; examples of how its being used; and success stories of engagement with clients and the market.

As we have commented previously, internal marketing of these projects is critical to success and often the poor cousin to external communications.


Revisiting content

This all addresses sustained momentum around a project. But another often neglected idea is revisiting previous projects and campaigns to see if there is an opportunity for an update; a viewpoint one year on; or a trend evaluation of something that was done some time ago.

One challenge to this is the loss of corporate memory that accompanies members of the marketing and BD team moving firms. A while back, a client asked us to support a project identical to one we knew the firm had done before. Amazingly, we were the only people who seemed to realise there was useful knowledge residing somewhere in the filing system from the previous endeavour. And the only ones who remembered that, what seemed like a great idea, hadn’t actually worked the last time!



So to conclude:

  1. It’s always worth planning at the start to ensure momentum is sustained after the project launch. 
  2. It’s worth going back to old material for new viewpoints and angles – and
  3. It's worth having a dig back in the files to see what was done before your time with the firm – because there may be unspent resources you can tap into.


You can read more of Steve's blogs here >>


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