In my last post I said that developing fewer but more substantive points of view (sometimes even just one) is much more likely to make the phone ring than letting a hundred points of light shine in your firm. That’s for sure.
Yet time and again, marketers make the mistake of thinking quantity is the name of the game in thought leadership: “We need more white papers.” “We should run more Webinars.” “We ought to do another survey.” Maybe – but only if you have something profound to say each time. If not, don’t waste your time.
But when you place your bets on fewer but deeper points of view, you will soon need someone who’s responsible for the end-to-end process of developing and selling a big idea. Call this person the POV champion, proponent, defender, promoter or whatever. This person is charged with the success of the point of view – activities both in developing it (research and analysis to create compelling content ) and marketing it (online and offline marketing, as well as business development).
Without a passionate POV champion, it will be difficult to stay the course.
Michael Hammer and Jim Champy (business reengineeering) and Michael Treacy (value disciplines) were the POV champions for their blockbuster ideas in the 1990s. This decade, Chris Zook led the charge at Bain on the concept of “profit from the core.”
Over the last decade, we’ve worked with POV champions and seen how they operated. One story illustrates this well. Ten years ago, when Fred Crawford was a senior partner at consultancy Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, he ushered a research-based point of view on the topic of “consumer relevancy” through the firm’s many political and logistical hurdles. The concept culminated in a new consulting practice for CGEY’s retailing clients, and a best-selling book in 2001 called “The Myth of Excellence.”
That prominence, as well as his stellar sales and leadership skills, helped Fred reach the top of restructuring and consulting firm AlixPartners, where he is CEO today.
To capitalize on thought leadership, companies need more Fred Crawfords. But even when there is an energetic promoter of a POV, when that person exits, the energy around his idea can dissipate. A POV champion in a different consulting firm made sure her organization stayed the course in developing a substantive POV and bringing it to market. But when she left the firm, the organization shunned it like an unwanted child.
What’s your experience on this issue? Do you have POV champions who stay the course through content development and lead generation? Has it worked – even after they leave? Let me know.