Thought Leadership and Whitepapers

A while back. (Ok, in this industry time moves fast so a LONG while back.) I read an article written by Elise Bauer on Thought Leadership. She lays out what thought leadership is and presents a few steps for moving towards becoming a thought leader. One of those steps popped into my head today as I was attempting to get a white paper on some obscure information security research topic. The particular step I am referring to is Elise’s suggestion for those wanting to be thought leaders to unlock their white papers. So as I’m going through the rigmarole of filling out email addresses, contact information, odds and ends about what my company does, where we position ourselves in the industry, how many employees we have, how many kids each of those employees have, how many pets each kid has, of those pets how many are dogs/cats/hamsters/zombies… get the point. Those questionnaires are often grueling and irritating. Not only are the questionnaires annoying, one can only assume that they often produce flawed data since, myself included, users do not always provide true and accurate information. We are information security professionals after all and one of our repeated mantras is “Security through Obscurity” right? But I digress. So, Elise’s suggestion pops into my head and makes me really think about the white paper I am about to download. I begin to think about whether this white paper is truly good information or is it simply another marketing slick?

Things that as thought leaders we should be aware of and cognizant that our visitors will ask themselves. Ask ourselves, is the quality of information in our white papers valid? Is it information that speaks to our strengths and illustrates that we know our core business inside and out? Does it provide insight, technical or otherwise, as to why we are stronger and more adept at our core business than our competition? Finally, let’s not alienate and/or irritate our visitors, potential clients/consumers/customers by having them provide tons of information just to unlock our expertise or as Elise states:

Be generous with your expertise. Or the market will favor someone else who is.