During this turbulent period when many ‘sacred cows’ are being called into question it feels like the time is right to revisit another Holy Grail: faster, cheaper, better services. Conventional wisdom, at least from vendors, has always been that you can take your pick of any two benefits, but you can’t have all three. The time has come to challenge that thinking: is it possible to deliver faster, cheaper and better thought leadership?
During times of crisis, communicate regularly
Speed and agility have become essential traits, as the world around us changes at bewildering pace. Client priorities that once seemed predictable were turned on their head in a matter of weeks earlier this year and continue to evolve. And there’s no pattern or precedent to fall back on: different clients, markets and sectors are responding in different ways, at different speeds, with different priorities. Your clients need to prepare for different scenarios, so your thought leadership needs to reflect that.
There’s simply no value in yesterday’s thought leadership and you can’t be all things to all people. You need insights and advice that are focused on differing priorities and be ready to publish (or postpone and reframe) depending on how the situation evolves. Thought leadership needs to be developed quickly (in weeks, not months), stress-tested regularly and updated continuously for relevance and value.
Quicker projects mean lower cost
A welcome by-product of speed in service delivery is that it can also be cheaper as a result. Speed requires robust streamlined processes, with swifter decision-making and fewer stakeholder reviews. It requires making judgement calls on what will provide real value to your clients, rather than a long shopping list of ‘nice-to-haves’. All of which makes life easier for clients and agencies alike – saving time and money.
Building brand profile and influencing buying behaviours in an intensely competitive market will still need substantial investment in the long run. The old adage that you should invest through a downturn still rings true: research shows that those who stay visible during tough times will rebound more quickly when things start to improve. But it now makes more sense to do that in shorter sprints. Don’t put all your money on one horse - spread your bets on smaller targeted campaigns with a quicker ROI.
Clients need shorter, sharper advice
The days are gone (for now at least), where we can spend six months planning, researching, testing, analysing, storyboarding, writing, designing and selling-in thought leadership, before a high-profile launch at Davos, then feast off the goodwill for the rest of the year.
Short-term pragmatic advice on how to weather the crisis was an immediate priority, but thought leadership enables you to help your clients prepare for the recovery. How can they pivot post-pandemic as part of the ‘great re-set’? In the longer term, how will the crisis impact related issues such as sustainability, supply chain and digital transformation? What’s needed now is a continuous portfolio of targeted campaigns to ensure that messaging remains relevant throughout the coming year.
Fast-track thought leadership
This is why we’ve developed a fast-track thought leadership proposition that means we can get from scoping to campaign launch in only four weeks, to ensure you are engaging clients with evidence-based communications that can help them face their challenges in these turbulent and uncertain times. We offer two fast-track solutions, using quantitative or qualitative research, to create quick-win campaigns for fast-changing situations. If you’d like to hear more about these options, email firstname.lastname@example.org.