Real insights, in the world of business as much as in any other field, take a lot of work to produce. They especially require research. It’s a myth propagated by the “Attain thought leadership in 5 easy steps” crowd, that all you have to do is come up with a good idea, and then hey, write a book, give a speech etc. and you’re there. (A Google search on “5 Steps” + “thought leadership” today gets a million returns.) But in fact all the best (and enduring) ideas are underpinned by substantial study of the real world and the development of a model to explain the findings.
But in business, our intended audience — executives — rarely has time to read weighty reports, so what’s a publisher to do?
Online publishing has given us a lot more options than we ever had before. Videos, podcasts and interactive graphics are some of the most obvious online tools to make the profound more accessible. But one of the most underrated and powerful tools is the humble hyperlink. Executives tell us, that because they have little time to read very far before they decide something is worth their attention, they really like to see a short title that tells them what it’s about, a summary that tells them what they’ll get, and then descriptive hyperlinks that will take them directly to the parts they are most interested in. You can use this technique with an email to advertise your content, and you can use it on a web page that features it. That lets you present your research and findings in depth for the more technically inclined or skeptical. At the same time, people in a hurry can quickly grasp key findings and drill down into any specifics they are interested in.
Tata Consulting Services (TCS) has done that with a report they have just published on the state of cloud computing here.1 There is a video describing the key findings and a summary written by the CEO. And there is a link to the report page where you can, if you like, download the full 84 page research document. And on the right hand side of that page, there are links to the sections of the report that go into depth on each of the 10 key findings, such as “What is driving cloud adoption?” (Answer; not cost-savings especially.)
There are lots of things about the way TCS has presented this study that make it compelling and easy to access. Some of them, such as the video, no doubt required significant development. But for me, the one with the greatest benefit to cost ratio has to be the clever use of hyperlinks. This is a technique for effective thought leadership marketing from which many others could benefit.