Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thought Leadership: A Spirit of Generosity

We've received some interesting questions in response to our white paper, "Is Anybody Following Your Thought Leadership? Five Best-Practices." One, in particular, describes the dilemma marketing departments face: How can we prevent our thought leadership efforts from being interpreted as sales propaganda?

The answer lies in the fact that thought leadership isn't built, it's nurtured. It is up to the followers--readers, listeners, and viewers--to certify the thought leader with their trust, and that takes time.

Thought leadership doesn't have a landing page. There is no string attached between thought leadership and lead generation. Instead, it requires a spirit of generosity, as Elise Bauer says. Thought leaders attract followers by virtue of the freely given value they offer. The payoff to the organization is cultural, educational, emotional--but generally not measurable.

It is counter-intuitive to our lead-generation habit, but thought leadership strategy takes the company and the product out of the story. It leads with thought. Guided by generosity, marketers can strategize effective thought leadership campaigns that won't be considered sales propaganda--because they won't be linked (directly) to sales.

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