Toby Brown

The Currency of Ideas – Why Thought Leadership Works

Posted on 20th March 2014 by Toby Brown

One of the biggest challenges facing any professional services firm is cutting through the marketplace clutter to stand out from your competitors. As professional service providers our main asset is our expertise. But this is knowledge that we often share with the competition and standing out from an increasingly congested crowd can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle.

So how do you demonstrate leadership when you’re doing the same thing as your competitors?

Unlike in other industries, uniqueness isn’t as important to potential clients as expertise. So when it comes to professional services it’s the currency of ideas, rather than the individuality of your brand, that’s the main differentiator between companies.

The currency of ideas

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This is where thought leadership can help. Thought leadership is an invaluable tool that can demonstrate insight by highlighting a problem that your potential client hasn’t even considered, or help to find solutions to a headache they are currently facing. This doesn’t mean that you have to give away the farm, far from it in fact; you merely have to whet their appetite on the issue and demonstrate your expertise along the way.

A good data hook can also transform these ideas into a direct call to action, creating a need for your services by highlighting the extent of a problem that they can solve. For example, at Man Bites Dog we launched global management consultancy Hay Group’s post merger human capital integration practice by proving that 91% of mergers fail due to culture shock. The campaign delivered 8 million euros of business into the practice in a matter of weeks; proving the problem highlighted by the research resonated with a market need.

Taking ownership of these issues from a PR and marketing perspective can help you to set the news agenda and stimulate debate, demonstrating a need for your services as well as your ability to deliver them. It might be a change of tack for companies used to a traditional approach involving advertising or direct marketing; but wouldn’t it better to embrace the currency of ideas and show potential customers what you do rather than simply telling them about it? We certainly think so.

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