If you’re wondering why a blog about marketing and thought leadership in financial service is talking about cats, please read on. This little fable highlights some useful insights about the role thought leadership plays in your marketing strategy, as well as some words of caution to help you avoid some common mistakes.
The Spotted Cat and the White Cat
I have two cats at home. The Spotted Cat has been around for quite a while. He’s 15. The White Cat is the youngest member of my household. He’s no longer a kitten, but it still feels like he’s new.
The Spotted Cat always makes himself known. He craves constant attention. He has a loud, raspy meow. If he’s not getting the attention he wants, he acts out. He knocks things off of surfaces. He chews wires while looking me right in the eye, knowing that I’ll stop him. He taps my face with his nose or paw at 4:30 AM if he’s awake and bored. He’s friendly and affectionate, always wanting to see what other people are doing, always wanting them to pay him some attention, too.
The White Cat is elusive. He likes being in the same room with everyone else but at a few feet’s remove. His meow is quiet, sometimes just a whisper, rarely insistent. Although a bit shy, he’s also open to being approached, at which point he’ll open up and play. In other words, he’s always there and happy to receive attention, but he doesn’t seek it out for its own sake.
Of course, I love cats and I wouldn’t be writing this fable if I didn’t. I give ample attention to both the Spotted Cat and the White Cat. But there’s a big difference. I’ll actually go looking around the house for the White Cat. Sometimes, when the Spotted Cat is too insistent, I push him away because it’s just too much. I don’t have the time or space to give him the attention he’s demanding.
The Moral of the Story
The difference between the Spotted Cat and the White Cat brings out the point that I am trying to make in this fable. As marketers, we have a choice.
We can be noisy and aggressive – stuffing email inboxes and flooding social media feeds. We can tap the faces of our audience while they’re trying to sleep. We can ignore the difference between positive and negative attention. This Spotted Cat strategy has been around for a while. Yes, we get our message across, but we also create situations where our audience turns away. We might not, however, have the same degree of affection as a cat does. Audiences tune out completely and don’t come back.
On the other hand, we can take a calmer, quieter approach, which draws audiences towards us. Thought leadership is a great example of a White Cat strategy. Patiently, deliberately, we communicate insights and points of view that inspire audiences to come find us. We create enticing newness based on the appeal of our innovative thinking rather than the insistency of our efforts. As a result, audiences are happy when we show up. They are more forthcoming with their attention.
The idea of this fable is simple. It’s a call for taking a patient, deliberate approach to our marketing efforts, recognizing that attention earned may be of better quality than attention demanded. Especially in the worlds of financial innovation and fintech for the B2B market, patience is rewarded by an engaged and eager audience.