Thought leadership for an audience of one

OK, maybe not quite one. Producing great thought leadership is an expensive and time-consuming business, after all, so it makes sense to ensure that as many clients and prospects as possible engage with it, in order to help deliver the ROI that is needed to justify the effort involved. But, paradoxically, it’s almost impossible to achieve these high levels of engagement if you try to produce content that appeals equally to every potential reader.

Clients are busy, and thought leadership is plentiful.  Consulting firms, therefore, face stiff competition for clients’ time and attention from a whole host of other content providers—not just other firms, but also the likes of Harvard Business Review, analyst houses, and mainstream media.

So it’s imperative that firms produce content that stands out from the competition. It’s our view—supported by the research that we carry out with our clients—that the best way to reliably achieve that is to produce content that is clearly aimed at one specific type of reader. Here are three great examples of thought leadership we have come across recently that deliver laser-like targeting.

This report by Deloitte does an excellent job of flagging up that it is aimed at a senior tech audience; anyone who glances at the cover will know exactly what the report covers and whether they’re in the target demographic for it.. It’s part of Deloitte’s CIO Insider collection, a series which offers a curated and regularly updated selection of relevant articles for tech leaders—a handy “one stop shop” for clients looking for a good range of current thinking without having to do too much googling.

This piece by Accenture under its “Future Workforce” banner also delivers when it comes to targeting. A “What’s in this article” section on the report’s landing page specifies the new information and insights that will be provided by the report. It also links these to improved business performance, helping to create a clear business case for engagement with the content.

Lastly, this report by IBM does the job in an impressively succinct manner—clearly targeting marketers, introducing the AI topic and outlining what the report has to offer—all in one short title.

If you’ve produced a top-quality piece of thought leadership, you undoubtedly want it to be seen by those who will find it most helpful. In this busy and competitive space, it’s risky to assume your target audience will find your content without your help. Often, the best approach is the most explicit one—one that succinctly spells out to the ideal reader: “This is for you.”