A Whodunnit? | Finding “Clues” in Thought Leadership


One of the metaphors that I use to describe thought leadership practice revolves around the children’s board game Clue. In the game, it’s a very simple premise. They players must investigate a murder in the mansion. And they have to determine the murderer (the who), the scene of the crime (where) and the murder weapon (the how).

And there’s a ritual formula to a player’s accusations at the end of the game! The player must declare: “It was Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick!” Or “Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory with the Lead Pipe!” Now, let’s apply that ritual format to the practice of thought leadership.

  • Who are you trying to reach? (can you name these people specifically—by name or maybe by profile)
  • Where do they already get their information?
  • And how will you make a contact with them? Choose the modality that you’ll use. Whether that’s a Whitepaper, Podcast or an Email.

This formula keeps your focus on the target audience rather than the modality or the content.

All too often, I’ve seen people in thought leadership practice focus way too much time on the ideas and the modality. And they skip past the who. “It could be for anyone” they say. Well, you can’t solve a murder mystery that way. And you certainly can’t practice thought leadership as well.

Children who play the game “Clue” need to be clear about “who” they accuse as the murderer. And thought leadership practitioners need to be clear on who they’re targeting before they design campaigns and assets.

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Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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