Thought leadership is one of those concepts that is tough to define, but it can be a powerful marketing strategy for associations. Recently, Michael Brenner, vice president of SAP global marketing and managing editor for the SAP Business Innovation website, provided this definition in a guest-written article in Forbes: “Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audiences.”
Brenner’s article offers several tips on how to create thought leadership that drives results when it is made available to targets via websites, news media and other communications avenues. Step one is to identify the questions your members are asking and then prioritize them. The second step entails answering those questions across multiple formats and channels in ways that add value for your audience. A third suggestion is simply to “make it interesting.” The message must rise above the noise of all the other content that is bombarding membership on a daily basis. Finally, invite all concerned to take part in the organization’s mission.
Brenner says that thought leadership is especially important for organizations where decision-making processes re lengthy, complex and where there are a large number of people involved. It is also important to note that thought leadership can come from any source – executives, directors, members, and anyone else who can help an organization’s constituents. Everyone has knowledge, experience and a point of view. Ultimately, thought leaders need to inspire others to act, to “take the next step.”
Forbes (01/30/13) Brenner, Michael