[insert-author-info] In planning the July 2016 Leadership Lunch, Rhonda Cardone, New York Marketing Director for Dewberry, invited a fellow marketer within the company to share her guidance on a topic relevant to all leaders. Molly Johnson Wagner, Director of Communications for Dewberry who sits in their Headquarters in Virginia, led an engaging presentation with two helpful approaches to harness the potential of thought leadership within our companies. Approach one focused on how to market a single concept, starting with the Seven Hallmarks of a Market-Ready Point of View from the book Thoughts on Thought Leadership. Wagner cited an example of successfully utilizing these hallmarks through Dewberry’s widespread coverage of the Reuter-Hess Water Purification Facility in Parker, Colorado. Dewberry is the first firm in the world to use compound PACs in water purification, and the result of hours of promotional work landed this story in ENR and on the cover of Rumbles. Promoting this new purification method elevated both Dewberry’s reputation and the client for adopting this innovation in water purification. Wagner expressed her excitement at discovering the Seven Hallmarks, but recognizes that addressing each one requires many hours of work and resources not necessarily available to all marketing departments. Also understanding that firms may not have a new idea to market as true thought leadership, Wagner suggests showcasing a unique approach to an existing concept or issue. She provided the example of the EYP Architecture & Engineering presentation at KA Connect 2015. When EYP attended an event with other firms that design STEM facilities, the firms were asked, “Based on the work you are doing, do you think you’re making a difference?” While EYP provided a response based on their design knowledge and project experiences, the firm took it a step further. EYP began researching metrics to describe the influence of their projects in improving STEM education nationwide. While EYP was not promoting a breakthrough discovery in STEM building design, the follow-up research about their facilities highlights a novel approach to a common question about impact. Wagner introduced Approach two by acknowledging that each company is made up of valuable employees with information to share. In promoting your firm’s thought leadership, she advises not to let a thousand points of light shine. Showcasing each project or each employee in your firm will dilute the individual moments of thought leadership, and none of your differentiators will stand out. Wagner stated not to worry about giving everyone equal time, and that it is important to value quality over quantity. Wagner concluded her presentation by explaining that company culture has a lot to do with how thought leadership programs are built. If a company has a difficult time sharing and disseminating information internally, it will be harder to promote the thought leadership taking place.
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