Measuring the ROI of Thought Leadership | Cindy Anderson and Anthony Marshall

Measuring the ROI of Thought Leadership | Cindy Anderson and Anthony Marshall | 449

 



The importance of thought leadership surveys and research.

An interview with Cindy Anderson and Anthony Marshall about the surveys they conducted to calculate the ROI of thought leadership.

It’s certain that thought leadership brings great value to an organization, but how do you calculate the actual ROI of your thought leadership investment?

To demystify the ROI of thought leadership, I’ve invited Cindy Anderson and Anthony Marshall to join me for a discussion. Cindy Anderson is the Global Lead for Thought Leadership Engagement and Eminence, and Anthony Marshall is the Senior Research Director for Thought Leadership, both from the IBM Institute for Business Value.

In this episode, we talk about the IBM Institute for Business Value’s 20 year history delivering thought-provoking insights to business leaders about emerging trends, opportunities, and challenges. Their thought leadership reports offer prescriptive recommendations to address the most pressing challenges and opportunities, and to help determine future organizational success. Since 2004, they have conducted groundbreaking surveys, growing from 300 CEO respondents to more than 3000. Due to the long history of the survey, they have a long horizon of data to track global changes in the CEO role, responsibilities, and best practices.

Recently, Cindy and Anthony lead a double blind survey of CEOs, seeking to discover the ROI of thought leadership. The survey included questions on thought leadership consumption, purchasing decisions, and more, all designed to shape insight on the effects of thought leadership, and guide CEO spending. The result was shocking! The data showed that the ROI was 156%, more than 16 times a typical marketing campaign’s effectiveness.

We wrap up the conversation discussing how Cindy and Anthony intend to tell the story of their research. They are writing a book which will be published in 2023, including survey data, information captured in follow-ups, the calculations used, and even a tool that companies can use to calculate their own thought leadership ROI! If you’ve ever tried to measure the impact of your org’s thought leadership investment, this is a critical episode. Don’t miss it!

Three Key Takeaways:
  • Long-term surveys provide essential longitudinal data, showing change over time and tracking trends that underline permanent global shifts.
  • In order for thought leadership to flourish in an organization there needs to be an immense level of support from the CEOs – the TL team can’t do it alone!
  • CEOs spend an average of 2 hours a week consuming thought leadership. To keep them engaged, you need to produce content that is rigorous, robust, and relevant.

If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.

Join the Organizational Thought Leadership Newsletter to learn more about expanding thought leadership within your organization! This monthly newsletter is full of practical information, advice, and ideas to help you reach your organization’s thought leadership goals.

And if you need help scaling organizational thought leadership, contact Thought Leadership Leverage or reach out to Bill Sherman on Linkedin!


 


Transcript

Bill Sherman How do you measure impact and ROI for thought leadership? That’s a question I hear from a lot of heads of thought leadership and also from their senior leadership sponsors. So today, let’s look at that question with two individuals who are answering it with confidence and data. Meet Cindy Anderson and Anthony Martial of the IBM Institute for Business Value. Cindy is the global lead for thought, leadership, engagement and eminence, and Anthony serves as senior research director at the Institute. The Institute has a long history of excellence in thought leadership, and I’ve asked Cindy and Anthony to talk about the institute and then also recent research they’ve conducted to measure the ROI of thought leadership. Today, we’re focusing on the metrics of thought leadership impact. I’m Bill Sherman, and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin.

Bill Sherman Welcome to the show, Cindy and Anthony.

Cindy Anderson Thank you.

Anthony Marshall Thank you.

Bill Sherman So, Cindy, let me start with a level set question. The Institute for Business Value at IBM. What is it? What does it do? And maybe just a little bit of its history and pedigree, if you will.

Cindy Anderson Absolutely. The IBM, IBM Institute for Business Value has been around for 20 years and for two decades it has served as the independent thought leadership think tank for IBM. And what that means is that we produce thought leadership, which is what we’re talking about today. We produce about 120 reports a year, including five major research studies that generally include interviews with two to 3 to 4000 global executives and consumers for each one. Our work is broadly categorized into five major programs, the largest and most well-known of which is our C-suite program, which is actually older than the Ivy itself that covers both traditional C-suite roles. So CEOs, CEOs, CEOs, and also those emerging roles that we’re seeing come through. Chief Sustainability Officer Looking at Chief Data Officer Chief Transformation Officer Some of those kinds of things. We reports on multiple technologies and various functions, things like talent, future or supply chain. And we also have a pretty robust ESG portfolio that’s focused on diversity and sustainability. Quite a lot of content there. We have our third Women in Leadership study actually scheduled for March of 2023, and we are super proud to say that we were awarded the first gold, Stevie, in both the American and the International Business Awards this year for Excellence in Thought Leadership in the first year that that category was actually offered as part of the awards program. So that’s the IBV in a nutshell.

Bill Sherman Congratulations on the Stevie Award for Thought leadership. And if I can put in a point of pride as well, we were the ones who went to the Stevie’s as Thought Leadership Leverage and said, this is a business category of work that needs to be recognized and that excellence is happening and is not on the radar and it needs to be established as a function.

Cindy Anderson We’re very grateful for that. Thank you.

Bill Sherman So one of the reports, I believe, that the institute does is the annual CEO report. Correct.

Cindy Anderson Right.

Bill Sherman And that’s one that listeners may be familiar with. Let’s talk on that for just a moment as a piece of tentpole ball leadership, if you will. How does that work? Anthony?

Anthony Marshall So the IBM Institute for Business Value, the CEO study has actually been around since 2004. That was the first year that the IBP before I joined started with the CEO study and that really led to a whole program of C-suite thought leadership. So, the original C-suite CEO study was, I think around 400 CEOs were up to 3000 CEOs now. And it is it has changed over time. Some years. We’ve actually produced a C-suite study in total. So across six roles in one study. Now we’ve decomposed it again into a CEO that we bring out every year, but we’re supplementing that with other roles. So, in the last 12 months, we produced a CIO study, a chief technology officer study, a CFO study, and we’re working on a Chief Data Officer study. We’ve just released a CSC study, but each year we produce the CEO study, which is hopeful of a couple of dimensions. Number one, because it’s been going for so long, we’ve actually got this fantastic longitudinal data to see how the sentiment and ideas and philosophies of CEOs has changed over time. So we had some questions that we ask very consistently across all of those time periods. But it also allows us the flexibility to deep dove into specific topics. So, sustainability, top of mind in the last period of time has been the focus of the most recent CEOs study, but not just about sustainability, but we focused on more strategic or what we call transformational sustainability. And so that’s really looking at the perspectives of the CEOs in how they employ technologies or things like ESG and actually use it as a driver of strategy, not just a mechanism of compliance, if you will.

Bill Sherman I think one of the things that your listeners and I want to explore just a little bit is the concept and the value of having done this for 20 years. So many organizations now that are outside of the consulting world, they may be in manufacturing, they may be in technology. They’re looking and saying. Okay, how do we stand up a function of thought leadership, recognizing that it’s different than content marketing, different than many of the traditional mechanisms. What is the value that you’ve seen, beyond the longitudinal piece of the 20 years an institute has existed? So how does that impact how the institute works within the organization and beyond the organization? Cindy.

Cindy Anderson Yeah, sure. I think one of the main impacts of having 20 years of history of the CEO study and the C-suite series and thought leadership in general at IBM is that we have immense levels of support for thought leadership as a brand building capability, as a top of funnel capability, as an awareness capability within IBM. So, our executives are immensely supportive of the work that we do, and they have directed the rest of the organization to use IBM’s leadership as the content engine for the rest of the organization. So we see ourselves as, depending on how you look at it, either the foundation or the umbrella over all of the other promotion work. In fact, Anthony and I are sort of fond of saying that that thought leadership is the marketing P even though it doesn’t start with the letter P, because it’s essential to that marketing mix and the kind of content development, the kind of promotions that an organization does as the basis as the foundation, because it delivers that credibility and that authority and that just foundation that you can build every other promotional campaign from. So I think that’s the main benefit that we’ve seen. And the value of having such a long history within an organization is really that support of the executives in using thought leadership as the content engine.

Bill Sherman Anything you would add to that, Anthony?

Anthony Marshall And it’s very interesting that, you know, it’s in some ways, until recently, no one’s been able to quantify the value of thought leadership. This is something that we’ve been able to do. I’m sure we’ll talk about that more later. But even before that, given that the Business Valley was existed for such a long period of time, it has demonstrated a commitment on the part of the organization that even if there hasn’t been a lot of data to support the relevance and the fact that that leadership can be a huge driver of value, of setting the scene, being the tip of the spear, enabling conversations at a strategic level with the C-suite and others, that the IBM organizations really supported it for a long time and made major investment in it. And so, in many respects, that’s as a leap of faith. And I think we’re starting to see the data to show that that faith is being borne out by the facts and all of the conversations that I’m sure you’re having, that Cindy and I and having that thought leadership is becoming ever more importance as a differentiator in terms of motivating discussion, having something to talk about, having something of value to bring to clients that doesn’t involve a sale of a contact or service.

Bill Sherman Exactly. And what I love in the journey that the two of you jointly describe is from executive sponsorship within IBM, where there was believe we’re going to invest in this because we believe this is a value and we know it will take a time to what I would describe as a phase of anecdote data where there are stories, data that sort of squishy, but you can sort of compile it and go, “We know we’re making some impact. But it’s not rigorously measured or defined. But when asked, how is this working, we can at least point to something.” And you alluded to Anthony, moving that to a point of rigor. And I think one of the things that has happened, because much of marketing has moved from anecdote data to quantified rigor through the last 20 years with the Internet and be able to do a paid sponsored ad and then see what those results are on that. The question has become increasingly more at the top of mind, How do we measure the impact of thought leadership? And I know that that’s something both of you have looked at both theoretically, and then on a very applied level within IBM. So I’m going to start with this question here. Cindy, how do you measure thought leadership and how have you thought about it?

Cindy Anderson Thanks for that question, Bill. And we’ve been thinking about this for a very long time. We’ve been really fortunate in that, you know, who better to really investigate the value of thought leadership than those who do it every day. And that those who do research and investigate the value of all sorts of things in the world. And so we were fortunate enough to be able to turn the research lens on ourselves and our own practice so the kinds of things that we do every day. We turned that around and said, All right, what does that mean to us? What does that mean to thought leadership? And we were able to put together a survey, a study that we did with the with our research partner. And we interviewed 3700 executives. Half of them were CEOs. Half were other C-suite roles globally in 26 countries, 16 countries and 26 industries, average revenue of $29 billion. So these are the world’s leading executives, CEOs and other C-suite executives. And we asked them how they use that leadership, what they do with it, if it’s valuable, what does it mean to them? And we also asked them how it impacts their business decisions, how it impacts their purchase decisions. And we were able then using that research and that data to calculate in our ROI a return on investment for thought leadership. So I’m skipping over a lot of the middle there, and I know Anthony can share a lot of the detail with that, but that that was our purpose was to say, all right, we do this every day. We look at we use research, we analyze, we figure out what things mean and where the value is. Let’s look at our own practice. We did that and we were able to calculate a really data oriented, data driven return on investment for thought leadership.

Bill Sherman And I think you now have the attention and perhaps the envy of every head of thought leadership listening in the sense that it is the question that all of us want to answer. What is the ROI?  How do I calculate it and how do I give a reliable, consistent number? And a lot of us have been coming at this question from different directions. Anthony, I’m going to turn to you. Let’s talk about the study. Let’s dive in.

Anthony Marshall So we one of the things that we learned when we did the survey about executives and how they think about the leadership, how they use the leadership is that two aspects of thought leadership came through as most valuable number one expertise and number two, proprietary original data. That people can’t get from anywhere else. If you’ve got that with analysis, then that is that is the gold standard of thought leadership and that is enormously attractive to executives. So with that philosophy, we sort of applied that philosophy truth to the questionnaire and literally asked executives, does consumer thought leadership impact your purchasing decisions in terms of services and products, and if so, to what extent and how frequently? And we were able to find that in excess of 80% of executives indicate that they’ve made a purchase decision of some kind in the last three months based on the thought leadership that they consume, depending upon the size.

Bill Sherman Let me pause there. I’ve made a purchase decision on behalf of their organization rather than personal, correct?

Anthony Marshall Correct. So we’re talking basically a purchase decision of goods or services from their organization.

Bill Sherman Exactly.

Anthony Marshall Because as you know, the leadership is most effective in a business to business environment. And so and we’re able to start sizing the magnitude of that spend, both from direct spend that is directly influenced by the thought leadership. And that’s not saying I’m selling a widget and the thought leadership about the widget and go out and buy the widget. This is about.

Bill Sherman Yeah, that’s product marketing. At that point.

Anthony Marshall I’m talking about transformation. And you know, here is an analysis of transformation and key strategies that that we’re able to demonstrate is most effective in transformation. These are the sort of steps that you need to take. These are the investments you need to make. If those sorts of decisions and depending upon the size of the organization, that’s well in excess of $100 million in the US and indirectly associated spend. But there’s also influence spend in marketing. You talk about influence, influence of spending. Marketing is similar concepts here and that is orders of magnitude greater. So you’ve got the two elements of impact. Number one, you’ve got the fact that that thought leadership is leading to purchase decisions on the part of executives, particularly if they thought leadership is seen as rigorous and independent. And within that, you’ve got an aspect of that decision that is direct in terms of directly associated spend, but also influence spend, which is orders of magnitude greater than that.

Bill Sherman And I’m thinking of influence spend as a halo effect. Is that a fair way of thinking of that, Anthony?

Anthony Marshall That that’s exactly right. And if we went with [muffled] to do some calculations based on the data. And of course, not all that influence spend is is realized. And so we’re having to look at the data in more specific ways and sort of say, okay, what all of this of this large amount of money, whether it’s three or four or $500 million. What proportion is actually going to be realized? And it’s going to be a fraction of that. But the fact is, it’s going to be something.

Bill Sherman There’s an opportunity to go after that halo and you can start saying, okay, how do we get that 3 to 5 X of direct spent now on that hundred million of direct spend? Was that self-reported by the interviewee or was that calculated a different way?

Anthony Marshall So that was directly recorded by the interviewee. So we didn’t need the witness at all. This was not something that we drove by assumption. We literally asked, how much do you spend? And we were able to associate that with overall spending. Given the IBM Technology Company, we also looked at technology, which is some proportion of that.

Bill Sherman But there’s a piece here that I think is worth calling out. If that’s self-report data from the CEO that’s interviewed. That’s 100 million on average that they’re aware of influencing at their level and their spend. That’s not the total influence of a $20 billion company. That’s just the fraction which is visible to the CEO. And if we were to cascade down through the layers of the organization, you would have, I would assume, more direct spend in different areas as well as then significant indirect spend.

Anthony Marshall That would be correct. And also, if you look at across the portfolio of possible areas, we we honed in on.

Bill Sherman You’re just looking at technology.

Anthony Marshall Engineering, architecture, you know, rental property. You know, there are so many possible areas that top leadership is now becoming part of that. It really is a very sizable amount.

Cindy Anderson Yeah. I would say one of the one of the things that we did with the study is you’re absolutely right, Bill. And the numbers can get exponentially bigger depending on the size of the organization. But we wanted to focus on what we could prove through the data. So that’s where, when you hear us talk about our ROI and talk about the number when you want to get there. But it’s really from the data and the calculations that we have done are from the data that was directly given to us by these CEOs. So they’re there a lot a lot of kind of assumptions that we could make about what this number could look like. And it like I said, it could get really huge. But we didn’t make those assumptions. We used the actual data and calculated based on the numbers that they gave us. So this is why this kind of opportunity for thought leadership producing organizations is the minimum of what it could be.

Bill Sherman Absolutely. And in some ways, if this was a journal article, I’m jumping down to the next steps and places for future research, because I think what you’re doing is laying out a methodological foundation that can be extended, extrapolated.

Bill Sherman If you are enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about the podcast, please leave a five-star review and share it with your friends. We are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major platforms as well as at LeveragingThoughtLeadership.com.

Bill Sherman So we’ve teased a fair amount. Let’s get into the heart of this, which is the ROI, everything that every head of thought leadership wants to be able to take to senior leadership or to the board and say, if you put an investment of X, what is the Y on the outcome on that? Right. And for a long time, it’s been more of a black box mechanism for thought leadership. What did you find and how did you find it?

Cindy Anderson Yeah the so the ROI for thought leadership, based on our data, is 156% and that we can go through what the actual calculations were and organizations can calculate their own based on the data that we have to depending on how they spend. But what we found is that this is 16, 17 times greater than what a typical marketing campaign will return, which is somewhere around nine or 10%. So we’re looking at and this is why we call it the key of marketing, right? Thought leadership is essential as the foundation of a promotions program within an organization because of the returns that it delivers. Both Director Anthony mentioned 87% of CEOs said they have made a specific purchase decision in the last 90 days as a direct result of reading about leadership that.

Bill Sherman Had something in mind when they were replying to your survey. Right? That’s not an abstraction, because they were able to say yes and give a number.

Cindy Anderson That’s right. It’s unequivocal. And again, I didn’t mention this when we were talking about the survey, but this was a double blind survey. It was completely anonymous. So the respondents had no idea that IBD, that the IBM Institute of Business value was the originator, and we had no idea who the respondents were other than the said parameters, set parameters of how many CEOs and what size organization. So this is completely without bias. It’s not it’s not based on us knowing the people we interviewed. It’s just completely free of bias and justifiable in that sense.

Bill Sherman So when you calculate those numbers with those, because I think everybody who goes into a study has a little bit of a hypothesis. They’re testing on instinct.

Bill Sherman For those on par with what you were expecting. Was that lower? Was that higher? Anthony, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And then I’ll come back to you , Cindy.

Anthony Marshall Was it was immeasurably greater than we thought it really blew our minds, quite frankly, when we when we started seeing the numbers. And originally, we just studied it. We surveyed in the US and the numbers were extraordinary. We subsequently surveyed in the other 15 countries that Cindy mentioned, and the numbers held up proportionately. In fact, as a proportion of revenue. The United States is only the third most adopted thought leadership in the world. Interestingly, India is number one interest of other countries in Asia. Now, in aggregate terms, it’s lower because the average size of the organizations that we surveyed were lower in India, was smaller in India, but proportionally it was even greater. And so not only did they hold up, they were actually in the sort of variation that one would expect from a random sample, which this was given to, that we were serving particular organizations. Initially, we although we had the data to calculate it, it really hadn’t occurred to us to do so until we saw the implications on spend, both direct and influence, which made us think, okay, well how would we calculate in our and fortunately we had the core ingredients such as how many thought leadership organizations does the average executive consume, how much time out of the week do they consume thought leadership. We talked about the spend element so that we were able to decouple all those little things, estimate what the profitability of a research organization was, and estimate an average budget from looking at annual reports, etc., etc., in order to come up with the number that Cindy indicated. So and as Cindy mentioned, this is completely defensible to the extent possible. There were no assumptions in here whatsoever. It was all parameters set by the survey itself, which is what the executives were telling us, not what we were telling them.

Bill Sherman This is the sort of data that shifts the conversation from defensive on thought leadership of, okay, we know we’re doing this because it’s probably good in the long term, to a conversation of Why are you doing this and how are you allocating your spend to make the most of the leadership? One of the things that stands out to me as well, Anthony, you made the comment that the US is third in this study and I have heard from a number of people who are practitioners on this ship around the world that they assume that the US is in first place on the consumption of dollar leadership. So I’m surprised by that finding alone that it is not an American led piece as perception may be. Cindy, your thoughts on the ROI?

Cindy Anderson Well, I love the ROI, Bill. It’s I wish I had it, you know, 15 years ago when I was.

Bill Sherman Exactly.

Cindy Anderson Thought leadership competency at my previous job because I would have had some rational evidence to go to the executive team with to say, here’s why we needed the thought leadership program.

Bill Sherman Rather than tap dancing. Right?

Cindy Anderson Rather than saying, well, everybody’s doing it, this is we know it’s a good idea. Look you look at look at all the folks who have been doing this for years and years and years. So I’m you’re absolutely right. The proof aspect of it is immensely beneficial to those of those of us who do what we do. And it feels so gratifying to know that we can prove that what we do is beneficial to the organizations that we do it for. With this data and with these numbers. So and Anthony is right. It did it knocked our socks off. We were we were very surprised by that, the number being as high as it was. And then we did take into account mind share. You know, how many how many thought leadership organizations does an executive consume? What’s the reach? Can you can you reliably assume that just because the CEOs rating it, that everybody in the organizations reading it what’s the where the share rate. So all of that is calculated or is incorporated into the calculation of why we didn’t have the data. Like what’s the average profitability for an organization we went to, we went to other third party sources and got again, completely defensible numbers to include in these calculations so that we were 100% confident that we were delivering an ROI number that would be defensible for our colleagues around the world when they’re in budget conversations.

Bill Sherman Now, there may be a number of heads of thought leadership that are eager for their next meeting with their champion or senior leadership to share this number. And they’re probably wondering where they can find a citation or something that they can point to. So I’d like to turn the conversation to you. We’ve had this conversation. They could they could point to the podcast. But how are you going to be telling this story of this research? Where does this go from here? Cindy?

Cindy Anderson Well, originally we were just happy with the number. And, you know, we’re very happy that we could shop it around that at IBM and give it to our marketing colleagues and so forth. And as we talked to our colleagues in leadership in other organizations, there’s been a lot of interest in it. As you can imagine, if I had heard this on this podcast 15 years ago, I would have been like, Yep, give it to me. So Anthony and I are in the process of writing a book which will be out at some point next year, which will have all of the data and the information that we that we captured from the survey. We’ll show the calculations the way that we arrived at the our way. And it will also deliver a tool for organizations to use in calculating their own ROI, using their own numbers based on our data.

Bill Sherman So, Anthony, if you were to advise a fellow leadership practitioner who is going to make the case internally, what advice would you give based on what you’ve learned not only through your career, but also through this study, maybe a step or two?

Anthony Marshall So just following up on an earlier point that you made in terms of the consumption of thought leadership, we found that the average executive spends 2 hours a week consuming thought leadership, and that stood up remarkably well. I’m talking about within five percentage point percent variation around the world. It was really remarkable. And so I think the first thing that any leader in this space could categorically indicate is that people are consuming thought leadership, executives are consuming thought leadership in the United States, 88% of CEOs consuming thought leadership of themselves. And we know that they’re consuming 2 hours of thought leadership to as each week this consuming thought leadership. We know that on average, the average executive consumes total leadership from five organizations, and we know that is influencing their decision making about what they spend their money on. And we also know that the more independent and rigorous the thought leadership is, the more that it’s going to influence them. And so the opportunity is there for any organization to pursue the leadership as a key aspect of their engagement strategy with their clients. What is critically important to remember, though, is that if you stop messing about with it, if you start making it less independent, if you start making it less rigorous, if the executives can’t trust that they’re going to stop consuming it and it’s not going to have any impact, it will, in fact, drive resentment. And we’re looking at the relationships and we’re seeing precipitous drop off of engagement if executives don’t perceive it as being robust, rigorous and relevant. So it’s certainly worth. Making the investments in building capabilities within your organization, if that’s not possible, given scale. So finding other ways within an ecosystem of building those capabilities, whether it’s contracting with particular organizations or building partnerships, getting into the space. If you’re not there already and if you are there building and making and improving, the capability is enormously value increasing.

Bill Sherman You mention that statistic of 2 hours a week and early in my career I remember the phrase leaders or readers, and it was tied often to the consumption of the number of business books that an executive or someone on executive track would read versus the average employee. Now, there are different modalities of consumption of thought leadership, but I think the underlying point when you say 2 hours a week of a multibillion dollar C-level executive’s time. That’s expensive and they’re not going to continue it. Unless they are seeing return on investment for that time that they spend learning. And so they’re looking for. A call to knowledge and education rather than, you said, being pitch slapped, where all of a sudden, halfway through the article, there’s, you know, and here’s our product or service. Right? Cindy, let me turn to you. Practical tips, recommendations based on things that you’ve learned over your career or through this study that you would advise a colleague.

Cindy Anderson I think Anthony had had all of the highlights for sure. The most valuable thing I think that any thought leadership professional can do is find data like this. Use it to generate support at executive levels within the organization. Build the relationships that are going to be most valuable to the thought leadership, production organization or function within the organization. Because without that support, it can happen. But it’s immeasurably more difficult for it to happen that way. And then the other thing I would say is. Be careful that you don’t jump on bandwagons of the latest type of content. One of the one of the fun, most fun data points that we found in the survey was as much as people have been claiming the death of PowerPoints over the last two decades, PowerPoint is, if not number one. Number two, in the way that executives prefer to get thought, leadership information. And it’s something we’ll investigate further, but we think it’s probably related to them seeing presentations or attending events and hearing presentations and remembering what they’re seeing in slides. So PowerPoint is by no means dead for thought leadership producers, nor as long form content, which is really the foundation of that trusted, authoritative work that Anthony was talking about. So I would advise my colleagues or my earlier, younger self to say, you know, don’t, don’t, don’t necessarily jump on every bandwagon that comes along with respect to new types of content. Or if you do make sure that you’ve got a good mix of different methodologies that you’re or methods that you’re delivering your content in, because it’s really important to the executives who are reading it to see multiple different things. And then I guess the last thing I would say is Anthony mentions our investigation into what we’re seeing as a significant premium for independence as well as trust. So there are there are premiums for organizations that produce, would you say, Anthony, robust, rigorous and relevant. The leadership that is independent or perceived to be independent of the sales arm or promotions arm of the organization. Super important. And that is trusted. And that was an element of the survey as well. So I would just reinforce what Anthony said about don’t muck around with the model, which is thought leadership has to be those two things in order to deliver the kinds of value that we saw in the early calculation.

Bill Sherman So I want to thank both of you for taking the time to share these findings. And I am incredibly happy that you both led the research on this. I am looking forward to more details. So when the book is out, I would love to continue this conversation with the both of you, and thank you for taking time today.

Anthony Marshall Thank you.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month, we talk about the people who create, curate, and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website OrgTL.com and choose “Join our Newsletter.” I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.

 

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