Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in Marketing & Communications

Factor your Location into your Thought Leadership Strategy


{#/pub/images/IsYourBrandGeoSmart.jpg}Have you ever found similarities between the game of cricket and managing a multinational? 


I have.


You see, in the game of cricket, unlike soccer and baseball, there are no specifications for the size or the shape of the field. Therefore each game presents a number of possible outcomes not only on the basis of team composition, but also where it is being played. For instance, most Cricket grounds in Australia are so large that getting boundaries is tough. Therefore they generally favor batsmen who can sprint between the wickets. 


In a similar vein, the geographical location of business plays a critical role in designing the product/service. Businesses must not only adhere to the geo-specific rules and regulation, but engage with their audience and educate them about why they designed a product/service the way they did. In fact, a thought leader would go a step further and preempt geo-specific issues that might endanger their company’s reputation. 


Let us take the recent car safety report by Global NCAP for example. The report rated five popular small cars in India as unsafe because they do not adhere to the global standards of safety. How did the majority of car makers in question respond?

They didn’t. 


They chose to ignore the study, hoping for the story to die a media death.


But you know what: studies such as these can never be erased completely.


Sure, car sales are still on an upswing; buyers are still queuing up to buy the small cars indicted in the study; it seems to be business as usual.


Only it is not.


The germ of doubt has crept into the consumer’s mind. The next time they compare cars, they will remember that certain cars are not safe enough. They will make a mental note that the car makers’ promise of safety is not sincere. They will strengthen their innate psychological barrier that stonewalls marketing and sales efforts, and base their purchase decision on what they think is right. Not on what the carmakers promise and advertise.


The car makers have lost trust. That’s a pretty big blow in business parlance.


Now, here’s what a brand, that considers itself a thought leader, would have done.


Step 1: Look Further

A thought leader would have noted the differences in local and global safety regulations. (After all, these are multinational companies.) Considering the high level of global interaction the average populace has, the brand would have foreseen the problems that the comparison of different safety standards might trigger. 


With the problem area identified, the thought leader would have engaged with their audience and explained to them why they built a product the way they did. The brand would have highlighted the suitability of the product specifically for Indian roads.  


Step 2: Be Available

We know that the brands in question did not invest in Step 1. But now that the report is out and the damage done, how should they have reacted? 


A thought leader would not shirk the questions or waive off the audience’s concerns. A thought leader would be standing front and center, not wary of facing the questioning squad, and eager to put all doubts to rest. In fact, a thought leader would plug into the vast reserve of fans and customers and request them to voice their opinion regarding the damning study. Positive feedback from the existing customer base would offset the damage to the brand reputation.


Step 3: Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Proving yourself right is a lot more than a well orchestrated PR exercise. A video of a CEO apology or a press statement by the C-suite are likely to be shot down by a discerning audience. A thought leader would counteract the study with more relevant research instead.


The car makers should question the suitability of global safety standards to Indian roads. For instance, if a majority of cars are driven within city limits where one rarely speeds past 40km/hr, safety features such as air bags are unnecessary. A thought leader would respond to the Global NCAP study with one of their own, complete with facts, figures and statistics that would explain their decision to do away with certain safety features.


Aim for Geo-Specific Thought Leadership

Geo-centricity is a vital element of Thought Leadership. To excel in a particular location, businesses must assess their decisions in the light of the local culture, lifestyle and infrastructure. This entails detailing your thought leadership strategy to levels where it spots and closes all gaps; understanding your audience’s concerns; and educating them about what you, as an expert feel is best for them. 


Now, if you were representing one of the car brands in question, how would you have tackled this issue? Do comment below!



{#/pub/images/KarthikNagendra.jpg}Written by Karthik Nagendra, Founder & Director of ThoughtLeaders. With more than a decade of core marketing experience with prime focus on brand positioning, communication strategy, executive communication & thought leadership marketing, Karthik & his team help businesses transform from sellers to influencers by helping them unearth their 'big idea' and thus brand them as experts in their field. He has authored papers & articles on thought leadership marketing in international journals & has been a guest speaker at the Wharton Business School, UCLA, Duke University among other Ivy league Universities globally.



Do you have a question for Karthik?  Please visit our Marketing & Communications Community, he will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


Did you find this story informative?  We would like the opportunity to keep you up to date on all of our training articles.  Please register for our newsletter so we can do just that.  


Here are some related articles you may be interested in: 


5 Reasons Why You Need Thought Leadership

The Weight of Your Words

Mapping Thought Leadership Marketing in Organizations 

Marketing 101 With A Twist…Making It Effective - Podcast

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: How to Develop Yourself & Your Team



About ManagingAmericans.com

Organizational Strategy & Teambuilding Tools for Business Leaders & Managers- helping leaders achieve profitable results w/ fewer resources & happier employees. Our well-rounded business content is designed for leaders & managers to implement change with ease & improve accountability amongst their teams. 



Do you have a formal process in place to track ROI for your marketing programs?