TFT’s thought leadership programme on redefining building performance achieved the planned business benefits: increasing the visibility of the organisation and reinforcing its credibility. But there were some unexpected benefits too, as it provided the nucleus of a hugely successful external and internal training programme.
“The idea for the thought leadership campaign began back in 2019,” says Lisa Gunn, Head of Business Development and Marketing at the independent property consultancy. “Prior to that our marketing was successful, but it was all service led; built around our technical expertise in matters such as due diligence, dilapidations etc. We wanted a campaign that provided genuine value for clients and a focal point for internal engagement, one that pulled all of our services together.”
TFT ran a competitive tender and turned to Grist for its campaign. After extensive planning sessions it was decided to focus the campaign on a survey of property investors, developers and occupiers to explore the future of commercial property through the lens of value and resilience, establishing what will drive commercial performance in the years to come.
Webinars for the industry
The research identified three key metrics for building performance: health and wellbeing, sustainability and flexibility, and demonstrated that better measurement and collaboration were required to turn good strategy into tangible outcomes. Although each of these themes were widely recognised, they were not consistently understood. Despite a sense of general familiarity, these ‘action gaps’ in the industry threatened long-term building value and resilience.
“We therefore created a programme of CPD sessions which addressed key areas where we can help develop more sustainable, valuable and resilient assets,” says Paul Skennerton, Head of Communications. “Over five sessions, we examined key trends and challenges impacting our clients, applying our expertise across the property lifecycle for a better future built environment.”
Each event attracted 60-70 participants, many of whom were new to the organisation. They were also recorded and continue to enhance the organisation’s credibility. Based on the success of this programme, TFT are now considering rolling out the training programme to other educational establishments such as universities, giving the campaign additional longevity.
Another benefit was that the events also created an opportunity to collaborate with key influencers they might not have done previously.
Sales enablement through quality content
Education did not stop at the external audience. “The whole organisation was new to thought leadership and we collectively needed to learn how to make the most of it,” says Gunn. “So we developed a bespoke programme of BD training involving three core elements.”
In the first session, TFT went back to basics and helped the team hone their client listening skills. Owning unique data to identify the areas that peers find challenging was a perfect way to start a dialogue with clients about their own problems and opportunities. The conversation could flow naturally to their services, but they needed to earn the right to do that by providing value – which the research did.
The second part of the programme involved a review of their internal systems and the creation of a BD toolkit to help key stakeholders reach out more effectively to their client base. They launched their new client relationship management system at the time and it was imperative that they had valuable content at the heart of their communication strategy.
The final session took a deep dive into networking in a digital world incorporating best practice on LinkedIn. “We have a competitive team,” says Skennerton, “and followed the final session with a LinkedIn influencers challenge where we measured shares, likes and posts, rewarding the ‘most improved’ with cash prizes. That went down incredibly well internally!”
A platform for the future
“Being our first foray into thought leadership, the programme was not without challenges, but it is regarded as a huge success internally,” continues Gunn. “We’ve got all of the regular marketing stats around visits, downloads, time on site etc, but the CPD and internal sales training have given us a real platform for future engagement.
“There is a general understanding that the topics hit the right note. Key clients found the content really useful and the programme has given us a genuine voice. We can now approach key clients, identify peer problems, begin a conversation about their own issues and communicate what we can achieve if we work together. Marketing does not get any better than that.”