We love to ask questions here at Dance. They help us to think clearly about issues, to explore alternatives, to do better work. Our first two downloads from our website are lists of questions that we think will help you in planning your thought leadership marketing or publishing programs:
- 40 questions you need to answer to have an effective thought leadership marketing program
- 80 questions you need to answer to have an effective custom publishing program
We hope you’ll let us know what you think of the questions and if you have questions we’ve missed. Below are a few of the first questions you need to answer before you start a thought leadership initiative.
- Why are you considering thought leadership? What are you trying to accomplish — what are your goals and objectives? This is the most important question you need to think about and be able to answer clearly. If you don’t get this right, your thought leadership initiative will fail. We find that many people believe they know the answers, but when pressed, their answers are not clear or precise. It actually helps if you write the answers. Are you considering thought leadership to generate leads for your organization, to build your brand, to enhance your position in your company? Your answer may be all of the above, but you need to focus on one in particular in order to concentrate your efforts and resources.
- Who is your audience? What issues are important to them? What do they need? The cliché, build it and they will come, has led many to failure. Your thought leadership initiative will have a far greater chance of success if you understand your market and build something that your customers will value (and value fairly quickly – educating a market is a wonderful, ego-enhancing endeavor, but seldom results in reaching your goals).
- How do you know the answers to the questions above or how will you find out? This question requires that you be honest with yourself. Many people believe they know the answers to the questions when, in fact, they haven’t put in the effort, the research, the thinking it takes to get the fact-based information needed to know the answers.
- Will the thought leader be you, someone else in your organization, your organization as a whole? Since you are reading this, odds are that you are thinking about being a thought leader. If so, congratulations on taking the first steps of what will be an exciting journey. But you might not be the only one in your organization who could, or should, be a thought leader. And depending on your thought leadership goals, you may want to get others involved. Or you may not even want to be a thought leader yourself, but the one who builds a thought leadership program in your organization and helps others to become thought leaders. And remember, a thought leader doesn’t have to be a person. The thought leader may be your whole company (consulting companies in particular often take a thought leadership position) or even an organization within your company (a program management office can be the program management thought leader within a company). Again, it all depends on your goals, but it’s a question you need to consider.
- Do you have the knowledge and expertise needed on issues that matter to be a thought leader? Again, this question requires you to be honest with yourself. If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to start your journey. If it’s not yes, then you need to consider a number of issues. If you are to be the thought leader, then you need to get the knowledge and expertise. If your organization is to be the thought leader, you need either find the knowledge and expertise within or hire the knowledge and expertise from outside the organization.