Friday, October 07, 2005

If You Build It, Will They Come?

If leading business voices shout into cyberspace and no one hears them, do they make a sound?

If your organization is not already considered a key source of valuable insight, how do you persuade others to engage with you? Until the market regularly visits your website and other information channels, it's a good idea to invest some effort proving (not saying) that there is value in changing this habit.

Here are some things to consider:

Articulate a tight value proposition, and make sure your insights support it. Don't try to be all things to all people. Allow the market to hear that your analysis is both distinctive and new so that your voice is remembered and respected.

Collaborate, don't compete, if the market respects other voices more than yours right now. Go where the market is if it's not coming to you. Strengthen your credibility and raise your visibility through partnerships. Join discussions with the publishers, electronic content developers, and other experts that your market finds impressive already. If the conversation remains stimulating, the market will follow your distinguished thinkers back to your turf.

Relationship development requires credibility. Don't leave the it to a PR firm or even to communications professionals within your own organization unless they can discuss insights and strategy on the same level as the really smart people you want to join your team. Choose a high-level thinker for the job.

Alliance-building can yield surprising benefits, regardless of industry or type of business. I've worked with with non-profits, corporations, arts organizations, and publishers at different times in my career. In all cases, choosing alliance-building over competition allowed each organization to leverage resources. One collective voice became much more resonant than the sum of its parts.

Two organizations who are great content-development partners on the corporate side are Knowledge@Wharton and HBS Working Knowledge. They're both worth investigating.

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