The Making of a Thought Leader

Posted: 01/07/15

Robert Sher, CEO to CEO

The Situation: A Singular Vision Seeking a Greater Market Presence

Robert Sher, founder and president of CEO to CEO, a San Francisco-area consulting firm, had valuable expertise and devoted clients. His business offered a compelling specialty: leadership coaching and growth strategies expressly for midmarket companies. Sher helped clients revamp organizational structures, navigate leadership transitions, and transfer family business leadership from one generation to the next. As Sher puts it, he helps midmarket company leaders take their business to the next level.

But back in 2012, Sher’s marketing activities – including newsletters, a self-published book, and occasional speaking engagements – were not generating the volume of leads he thought they should. Most importantly, Sher felt he was not effectively reaching his ideal client: the CEOs running midsized companies.

To grow his business, Sher reached out to Bloom Group to help him develop a more compelling presence as a thought leader on midsized company leadership and growth strategy issues.

Bloom Group’s Role: On the Road to Thought Leadership

First, Bloom Group worked with Sher on an overall thought leadership strategy. This work included an examination of Sher's expertise, the type of clients he was trying to reach, and the client problems for which he wanted to become known for solving. Bloom Group also analyzed the effectiveness of Sher's past content efforts, market strategy and messaging, and his company's website.

Bloom Group helped Sher develop a multi-faceted thought leadership strategy by:

  • Clarifying his firm's value proposition and revamping the content on Sher's website, including client case studies that documented the impact of CEO to CEO on their businesses. This gave potential clients a clearer picture of CEO to CEO’s unique offerings and value, and shortened the time it took to convert leads.
  • Building credibility with a wider audience of midmarket executives by helping Sher pitch articles to Forbes magazine’s online edition. In 2012, Sher became a regular guest columnist in Forbes.com’s Leadership section, writing about the client challenges that are his specialty.
  • Helping Sher conceptualize and execute a midmarket-focused column on CFO.com, thereby reaching midmarket financial executives.
  • Assisting Sher in writing and finding a publisher for Mighty Midsized Companies: How Leaders Overcome 7 Silent Growth Killers. Sher interviewed more than 100 middle market executives for this book, and it was published by Bibliomotion (now part of Routledge) in October 2014.
  • Leveraging the book, Bloom Group helped Sher publish a series of seven columns in Harvard Business Review’s online edition in 2014.

Outcome: Nothing Midsized About This Growth

The thought leadership marketing work that Sher has done since 2014 has helped CEO to CEO increase its lead stream, market recognition, and revenue. In fact, the firm’s revenues in 2015 and 2016 were among its strongest since its launch in 2007.

Sher remains a regular columnist for Forbes, burnishing his reputation as a midmarket company expert.

Sher landed his largest customer deal to date after a PR person read one of his Forbes columns and connected him with a midmarket client who he interviewed for Mighty Midsized Companies.

Mighty Midsized Companies became a Washington Post bestseller, and won a five-star rating on Amazon.com. It also got highly positive reviews from prominent business leaders such as Stephen M.R. Covey, leadership guru Warren Bennis, Ken Blanchard, and Thomas Stewart.

Sher increased his speaking schedule from four or five events per year to four or five per month. He often distributes his book at his speaking engagements, offering an initial phone consultation to event attendees. Today, these speaking engagements generate the majority of new business leads for Sher, providing him with what he calls "ideal" clients.

 

“Much more than helping with a piece of content in isolation, Bloom Group inspected the entire thought leadership value chain and helped me insure that each dollar and hour we spent on thought leadership would connect through our website and value proposition to maximize the conversion rate from reader to prospect to client.”

Rob Sher, founder and President, CEOtoCEO