Being a self-proclaimed Thought Leader isn't easy. It takes thought. And it takes leadership.
Why is it, then, that marketers are asked by managers to establish thought-leadership positions without sharing their insight into the company's original thinking on a topic?
One explanation is that the company has no original thoughts. But that seems unlikely. The more likely scenario is that the smart people who have all the new ideas are actually quite busy doing their jobs. And no one wants to bother them.
But here's a suggestion: Let's make a quick call to the person who knows the most about the so-called industry-leading idea, and ask what ONE thing customers need to know about it.
Now take this person's suggestion -- it's probably a good one -- and spin it for marketing. What pain does it alleviate? How does it work? Why is it different from everyone else's big idea? Above all, Who cares?
Then draft a short pitch for your subject matter experts -- the idea, why it needs to get out, who will listen, what action will they take, and how this will change the world.
Use the pitch in your invitation for a short interview so you can pull the thoughts from the leader's head like so much gooey brain-matter bursting from a cracked skull. Promise the interview will take less than an hour.
Prepare! Read everything you can, especially items that infringe on the new idea territory. Because if someone was there first, you can't take a leadership position on it.
Don't invite anyone to the interview who has nothing to contribute. No new ideas, not invited. No good questions, not invited. No interest other than CYA, do us a favor and stay away.
Write a solid draft and send it to the expert(s) less than 5 days after the interview. That way, everyone will remember what we talked about. And they won't have time to change their minds about it.
Set a deadline. If the reviewers don't respond after 2 reminders, tell them you're going to press (figuratively speaking) without their input. Then do it.
This actually works. And as someone I once worked for said, It's better to apologize afterward than to ask permission beforehand.
Thought leadership is not evergreen. It's a rare idea that doesn't whither on the vine or get plucked by a competitor if you wait too long to ponder it.
If marketers, managers and the experts can collaborate without wasting anyone's time, industry-leading ideas can find a voice and do some good.