MaryLee Sachs' Collective Conversation Blog » influencer marketing Sat, 08 Jan 2011 16:58:40 +0000 en hourly 1 Thoughts on Thought Leadership Sat, 08 Jan 2011 16:58:40 +0000 MaryLee Sachs

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to think differently.  It’s a vague notion and I don’t want to use hackneyed phrases like “out of the box” so I started considering the term “thought leadership” and how everyone strives to be a thought leader.  According to Wikipedia, thought leader is business jargon for an entity that is recognized for having innovative ideas.  The term apparently was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz, Allen & Hamilton magazine “Strategy & Business.”  “Thought leader” was used to designate interview subjects who had business ideas that merited attention.

Wikipedia also reports that “According to commentators such as Elise Bauer, a distinguishing characteristic of a thought leader is ‘the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.’”  Isn’t this just basic hygiene for any organization?

LinkedIn has a relatively short section on thought leadership dating back to 2007.  And there are countless other definitions, essentials and how-to’s when one does a search online.  But it seems to be that thought leadership is one of the most mis-understood and confused terms in business.

I tend to think of thought leadership as being first to market with a truly different thought, owning the idea and then merchandising it.  How does one get there?  Sometimes thought leadership comes about from attacking and solving a challenging problem, but more often than not, it comes through reflection and identifying patterns and/or anticipating trends with a completely new idea or a new way of doing something.  It has to be authentic and of substance – not gimmicky or superficial.  And in today’s market, a thought leader has to be very quick indeed to call it out and own it.

Interested in others’ views on the subject of thought leadership.

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Trending in 2011 – Part 4 Wed, 08 Dec 2010 20:49:17 +0000 MaryLee Sachs

As marketers are increasingly challenged to innovate and make more with less, the will continue to expand their remit and absorb additional functions as new audiences and new routes to market become key, and “reputational intelligence” becomes absolutely critical.  Topping the list of the marketing group’s new responsibilities will be public relations, employee communications and corporate social responsibility because all of these disciplines provide the opportunity to participate and engage with key audiences–from consumers to employees to influencers of all types

As a result, marketers will need to adopt a longer term view on key performance indicators in addition to the quarter-by-quarter KPIs such as sales, brand preference and consideration rates.  And, in-house communications functions will need to understand traditional marketing metrics so that they can deliver above and beyond earned media output and share of voice-type measurement.

In the more innovative organizations, a new discipline will be borne which will be “mash-up” of the individual specialisms as we know them, making for interesting times for traditionalists versus new world thinkers.

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Trending into 2011 – Part 2 Fri, 03 Dec 2010 15:23:04 +0000 MaryLee Sachs

The rise of influencers from all quarters continued in 2010 and will only become stronger in 2011.  As Guy Kawasaki says, rather than “sucking up” these days, it’s best to “suck across” and even “suck down”.

Influencers of all types will provide increasingly important routes to: connect meaningfully with niche and broader audiences; endorse and advocate for brands; participate with brands; and spread the word both on- and off-line.  However, some influencers will continue to act as brand “terrorists”, thwarting brand progression and creating barriers to brand acceptance.

In 2011, marketers will need to more fully understand the influence wielded by both their brand fans and foes, and in order to do so, they will need to get a better grasp of the movement of word-of-mouth and the relative level of influence individuals and groups have on others.  As a result, there will be a greater need to subscribe to services that can map and analyze the movement of influence with a brand and/or category.

Additionally, new services and approaches for identifying and harnessing these influencers are likely to spring up from all quarters, but beware!  The human “listening” element will be absolutely key to understanding nuances and truly making the most of influencer marketing.

Guy also was quoted in the November issue of Fast Company: “The nobodies are the new somebodies” – from YouTube Stars to chief social media officers.  But it’s important to understand the level of influence they hold and with which audience, “one click at a time”.

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