DDi - April/May 2013 - (Page 18)
18 | Shopper Insights
Follow the leader
eaders make news, but thought leaders make history. Thought
leaders are indeed a rare and distinguished breed. They may
hail from the most unexpected echelons of life, and yet become immortalized as icons who changed the world. A true thought
leader is someone who envisions the day after tomorrow, and evangelizes the world toward it.
It’s a truism that thought leaders tend to be
the most successful individuals or firms in their
Furthermore, in the research literature, there’s a general consensus
that being a thought leader—whether you are an individual or employed at an organization and you want to grow the business, or
even an association seeking new members, as well as more generous
sponsors—can make a very significant and positive difference.
When you think of the term “thought leader,” what comes to mind?
With all the definitional dispersion around the phrase, as a starting
point, it’s usually worthwhile to define just what a thought leader is
and, sometimes more importantly, what a thought leader is not.
Wikipedia calls thought leadership “business jargon,” and defines
it as “content that is recognized by others as innovative, covering
trends and topics that influence an industry.” To me, thought leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by
delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your
target audience. While it can include your unique perspective on hot
topics relevant for your customers, the key is that the agenda is set by
your audience. They determine what the questions are—you simply
need to answer them. So, your level of authority is really determined
by how well you answer those most important questions.
Attendees at GlobalShop 2013 undoubtedly will file into the conference sessions to be privy to some of shopper marketing’s most
well-known thought leaders, who will share their insights and views
of the ever-evolving retail landscape. But, I can’t help but wonder if
those same attendees will seize upon the opportunity to seek out the
thought leaders that stand ready to assess and address their biggest
needs on the GlobalShop tradeshow floor. Not every thought leader
can, nor wants to, stand on a stage delivering a Powerpoint about the
big-picture problems facing the industry as a whole; some thought
leaders like to interact and engage on a smaller, more intimate level,
tackling a client’s (or potential client’s) problems head on.
Thought leadership is important for both B2C (business-toconsumer) and B2B (business-to-business) companies, but I think it
is especially important in B2B. This is because of the complexity and
length of the decision-making process in B2B environments and the
large number of people involved.
Thought leadership content can help anyone involved in the
business decision-making process to gain alignment across their
company regarding the problems they are facing. It can help them
to “name” the problem. Thought leadership can come from any
source—executives, customers, product managers, designers, customer service reps or salespeople. We all have knowledge, experience and a point of view. But, ultimately, thought leaders need to
inspire their audience to act—to take the next step in their journey.
Of course, the challenge is in the telling!
If you find yourself in awe and wonder while sitting in a conference session during GlobalShop 2013, I challenge you to explore
the show floor to seek out the thought leaders of tomorrow, who are
willing to address your problems today.
—Richard Winter is the president of POPAI, The Global Association for
Marketing at Retail, an information source for brand marketers, retailers,
producers and suppliers. Find out more at www.popai.com.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of DDi - April/May 2013
DDi - April/May 2013
Table of Contents
From the Editor
From the Show Director
Tiffany & Co.
Paris Kids Department
Technology & Customer Engagement Section
Big Data Column
Design Leaders 2013
Shopping with Paco
DDi - April/May 2013