Maximizing thought leadership during times of economic uncertainty

Slowing Economy

There is no doubt that the prediction of an economic slowdown is at the top of our collective minds. According to a recent survey from The Conference Board, 98% of US based CEOs and 99% of European based CEOs indicate that they are preparing for a global downturn. It is times like these, that as communications professionals, you can become the shining light for your company. It’s the time, more than ever, when you need to ensure you maintain steady momentum to increase awareness amongst customers, prospects and partners and control the dialogue. Your challenge is to do this without breaking the bank.

External Communications: Don’t Eliminate – Rebalance

Take for example a current client of ours. They are a large company who is currently in significant cost reduction mode.  They’ve announced layoffs, restricted employee travel, and cut over 1,000 conference sponsorships saving tens of millions of dollars.  But they haven’t cut back on pursuing earned speaking efforts.  That’s because they know they need to participate in the most important business and technology conversations next year, and it costs them very little to maintain a world-class speaking program relative to the money they spend on sponsorships.  We estimate their earned speaking program costs them about 0.1% of their former sponsorship budget and can provide a similar, if not greater impact on external awareness.

Earned Speaking Opps – More Bang for Less Buck

A well-designed customized executive speaking program can accentuate, and in some cases even replace conference sponsorships, allowing you to maintain awareness while reducing spending. Conference organizers are looking for innovative speaking topics from compelling thought leaders to attract audiences to their conferences. An earned speaking invitation is won based on the merit of the message and the messenger, not simply on dollars spent. With an earned, rather than sponsored engagement, speakers typically maintain higher credibility amongst the audience and are perceived as thought leaders in their respective industry.   Sponsored content sometimes comes across as being “inauthentic” or too much like an ad to audience members. And, sponsorships can range from $25K to $250K per placement.  Earned speaking opportunities are free.

The best way to utilize conferences is often to use a well-balanced combination of sponsored and earned appearances.  But in times of tightening budgets, focusing more on earned speaking opportunities and less on paid sponsorships can be an excellent way to partake in the most important, innovative discussions in your industry or topic area while at the same time saving significant dollars.