I was recently re-reading an article from the November 2008 issue of Marketing Management on how Mayo Clinic defends its 100 year old brand. Aside from owning what is arguably the most respected brand in healthcare, they have some extraordinary brand awareness.
There were a few things that really stood out about Mayo that I’ll talk about today and tomorrow, but the thing that really struck me was this statistic:
…U.S. households showed that more than 16% spontaneously mentioned Mayo Clinic as the healthcare institution they would choose for themselves or a family member – if insurance or finances would permit them…
That, to me, is astonishing. Think about your brand and ask how many consumers might ‘spontaneously mention’ you as the provider of choice for whatever industry you’re in? Now, to say that this is all because of thought leadership would be false. A 100 year old brand is built on much more than thought leadership, however, the case of Mayo helps to make a substantial case for the sustainability of being a thought leader in your field. In fact, one could argue that Mayo’s position on putting the patient experience, rather then new products and services, as their unique point of view on how healthcare is done is what separates them as a thought leader in their industry and to the market of healthcare decision makers. On the other hand, there are few 100 year old brands that have been sustained by advertising alone. I’m not saying that ads aren’t a part of the equation, but ads alone won’t do it.
If thought leadership is about developing differentiated, provable and practical solutions and then living those and articulating those in the market they serve, then Mayo is a quintessential prime example of thought leadership at work.
Think about your spontaneous mentions. How many people would spontaneously mention your company as the one the want to do business with from your industry? Sure, you could say that some of this is about “brand awareness”, but being a thought leader will deliver the awareness you need in the market you serve if you live your values and express your point of view constantly and consistently.