A Thought Leadership Model that Packs a Powerful Punch
Is there a formula – or best practice – for marketing b2b ideas?
The answer is a simple model that we call F.I.S.T.
F is for Focus
Successful media programs require focus. Sometimes this focus comes from an industry or functional area of expertise – e.g., retirement advice for small business owners or private equity solutions for middle market companies. Other times, it comes from a brand platform or positioning – e.g., the consulting firm that jumpstarts growth or the patient-friendly medical device company. While it is possible to get a lot of coverage with a shotgun approach to media relations, the net result is usually less than the sum of the program’s parts. Focus creates traction. And traction builds visibility and reputation.
I is for Innovation
The news industry focuses on “what’s new.” To be positioned as a b2b leader in the media, companies need to innovate. They need to introduce new products, new services, new ideas. They need to speak out on new legislation – and pinpoint new trends. Innovation is the currency of thought leadership.
S is for Spend
As in any business, you get what you pay for in b2b public relations. Companies that want to own an issue or idea need to invest in a communications program that establishes them as the leading voice on that issue. For some, this means a robust b2b public relations program. For others, it means an integrated program of Advertising, Interactive, Events and PR. For all companies, it means communicating clearly, consistently and credibly. Oftentimes, this requires investing in data (surveys, studies, analyses, clinical trials) to create proof points and marketplace stories.
T is for Thought Leadership
Finally, thought leaders need to produce ideas (i.e., theories, predictions, insight, analyses, advice). We tell our clients that these ideas need to be Predictive, Prescriptive and/or Provocative to count as thought leadership.
In the best PR programs, all four elements of the F.I.S.T. model are in play. We’ve seen programs work with as few as two (e.g., high levels of focus and thought leadership with moderate spend/innovation or high spend and thought leadership with moderate focus/innovation)…but no fewer.
[Image from Pirano]