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Future thinking: why thought leadership is more important than ever for professional services firms

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​The global pandemic has caused one of the most significant disruptions to business and society in living memory. It has changed not only our ways of working but has created a gap in the timeline of history, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the second world war.

This ‘reset’ creates a huge opportunity for marketing and BD professionals to question their ‘business as usual’ and focus on the strategic agenda of their firm. ​

Why do professional services firms need to focus on future thinking?

Quite simply, clients want to know what's next.

It’s a tough time for CEOs and their boards. They are currently facing an economic and health emergency combined with disruptive megatrends coming in from all angles, from climate change to transformational technology.

Furthermore, they can't address these challenges by simply bringing in a senior executive or a chairperson who's seen it all before, because everything they face is unprecedented.

It is therefore extremely important that BD and marketing professionals put themselves in the shoes of their clients to make sure that they are addressing the new set of challenges that they are facing today.

That’s where thought leadership comes in.

Thought leadership used to be the relatively exclusive domain of professional services firms and industry associations, but today, every CEO is expected to be a thought leader.

Clients are investing in their future thinking as never before, making competition for attention and thought leader status hotter than ever.

To raise capital and sell their products and services, every CEO must now be seen as an innovator and a thought leader.

CEOs must be future thinking

With the amount of instability and change that's currently occurring and the unknown future landscape, all your clients’ investors and customers have to go on is the story they articulate.

For some corporates, especially carbon-intensive companies, decarbonisation means that their transition will rely on technology that hasn't even been invented yet.

So the CEO’s vision and the story they tell the market is game changing.

There is a very clear business case for future thinking. Clients are looking for thought partners, professional advisors who can be their navigators of what's coming next and they will judge your capability on the quality of the future thinking that you share.

To be seen as trustworthy experts, you need to not only be more knowledgeable than your clients, but also be generous with that knowledge, otherwise what value can you offer them in this extremely challenging landscape?

The role of professional services marketing in future thinking

Future-ready professional services marketing and BD has a critical role to play in developing and communicating that future thinking, both in terms of how this vision is articulated through thought leadership-based marketing campaigns and how it informs new marketing-led products and services for your BD teams to take to market.

In short, marketing and BD need to start guiding the business to shape their services much faster and much more responsively, to ensure that they're relevant to clients today and tomorrow.

So how do you carve out this important thought leadership position?

This is where your strategic agenda comes into play.

We're all under pressure to be responsive to immediate priorities and opportunities, but what the best professional services marketers do is ensure that they also carve out the time and resources for their strategic agenda, the market-making activity that's going to drive your success not just today, but in 3-5 years’ time.

How do you go about shaping that agenda? Join the Ambition BD & Marketing Network for access to the full webinar with Man Bites Dog and our expert panel.

About the author:

Claire Mason is the CEO and Founder of Man Bites Dog, The Strategic Ideas Company that develops future thinking for intelligent brands to position them as leaders in the next economy. Find out more at:

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