Traditionally we position our organisation to attract clients. And then do some stuff around the edges to attract good people. Nike does this really well. We associate the organisation and the brand with all the people who we know wear Nike – Michael Jordon, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods … all the way back to Bo Jackson.
However in the 21st century if you’re in a knowledge business, this way of thinking is out-of-date. In a knowledge business I reckon you want to position your organisation to attract great people, and position your people to attract clients. With Nike it’s positioning is all aimed at the consumer. Lots of kids want to wear Nikes, but it’s not necessarily where the best and brightest want to work (which is fine for Nike, they are selling sneakers, not ideas).
If you are in the business of selling ideas, nothing is more important than attracting the best people, and you should position your organisation to attract them. Google does this very well - they position themselves as a cutting-edge, innovative company … not to get people using their search engine, but to attract the best people. (Although, of course positioning your company as cutting-edge will attract clients too - it’s just that this isn’t the focus.)
Then position your best people to attract clients. Have them speaking at conferences, writing books, publishing white papers and educating your market.
I think it’s a pretty big idea - love to hear your thoughts? You can leave your comments below.