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Consultants Need To Be Thought Leaders

Thought leadership is a critical piece of the communications and marketing strategy and yet often remains so mysteriously absent in the public relations mix

6Mar

It’s a knowledge economy, and that’s especially true for consultancies. Knowledge is the cornerstone of any consultancy business – it’s the true product, whether in financial analysis, business development and growth, talent acquisition or tech – and it’s that hard-won expertise derived from knowledge that the business model is built on. That’s why thought leadership is a critical piece of the communications and marketing strategy for many consultancies, and yet often remains so mysteriously absent in the public relations mix of many boutique enterprises.

Maybe integrating thought leadership into your consultancy’s strategic communications seems more arduous than it actually is, but it’s not just for international firms with name recognition. In fact, building your name recognition is the point – and it’s as accessible to you as the assets you already have. With thought leadership products, including white papers, case studies, how-tos and many content marketing strategies, making savvy ideas available to the wider community is really about creating a beginning. It allows your consultancy to start building a relationship, and may actually create that edge for firms better positioned to deliver more artisanal, one-on-one solutions based on carefully crafted client relationships, and the personal attention they require.

With timely, well-executed thought leadership pieces, you’re building trust in your brand from the beginning. The thought leadership model showcases your deep expertise, your capacities for keen analysis, and a comprehensive understanding of the future directions in your discipline and how they intersect with others. Because the work focuses on building and managing a reputation, those first impressions matter. That’s one compelling reason for choosing public relations professionals to create high-quality thought leadership messages, and to derive the value from placing them at the right time – and on the right platforms – to optimize your investment. Here’s what media and marketing professionals know, and five ways thought leadership works for you:

  • Contributed content is really about contributed voices. In today’s market, the old model of glorified advertising associated with paid placement is a memory, and the demand for informative vendor-neutral content keeps growing. Media professionals who work with tech and business consultants, in particular, understand their clients’ value propositions and messages. They know what to say – more importantly, how to say it and where to put it – in order to get your name in front of C-level executives and top business leaders.
  • Public relations professionals have the time you don’t have to develop relationships with media contacts, monitor news calendars, immediately recognize the value of a timely news hook and more. A quality PR firm has the dexterity to navigate and make the connections you need, with the nimble approach that gets you big bangs for the bucks. It’s true for both thought leadership products, and the related promotional efforts via direct pitches, social media, reported CEO quotes and other message visibility that you need to get noticed.
  • Consider how effective boutique PR consultancies are at serving … well, other boutique consultancies. When you choose a provider who specializes in education, predictive analytics, health care delivery or transportation logistics, you get more than a press release. Your 'virtual marketing department' understands the business climate, the organizational landscape, the potential developments on the horizon – and designs your thought leadership strategies with the same care that you’re using to design your apps.
  • Want to really distinguish yourself from the competition, and generate quality leads? Create thought leadership products that showcase your expertise through case studies, or demonstrate your knowledge through well-placed surveys and research results. A PR and marketing consultant can help you design these products as well as communicate them.
  • A good marketing consultant knows how to refine your messages so that they’re fresh – but remember that thought leadership isn’t really about novelty. Most businesses face the same kinds of disruptions and challenges, and problem-solving is at the core of any thoughtful plan to position your firm as an industry leader. What differentiates your business is the accessibility and clarity of your piece, and the relevance that you’ve articulated in your solutions. Why you? That’s where a PR professional excels at making the connection between thought leadership copy and business results based on action.

So as critical as relationship-based marketing has become in other spheres, it’s even more important for B2B consultancies and other specialized firms. Simple value messages and presence aren’t enough, and your business needs to establish itself as a thought leader. When considering a PR consultant who knows consultants, look for an information-based approach that is both comprehensive and cost-effective. You’ll get the best ROI on the knowledge and assets that you already have, and the best opportunities to develop even more of them.

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