In this day and age of SEO, data-driven results, analytics, trends and digital assets, attaining credibility isn’t as simple as it once was. The playing field has leveled – consumers have unprecedented access to information, allowing them to make more informed decisions than previous generations. If an organization doesn’t effectively position itself as a reputable resource, it will lose business to more savvy companies.
So what can you do to be one of those savvy companies? It comes down to thought leadership. Consumers don’t just want to be sold something. They want to feel as though they control every aspect of their purchase – they want to make an independent, informed decision. So rather than bombarding your customers with sales pitches, give them information and trust they’ll make the right decision by going with your product or service. Read on to discover five ways to drive and promote thought leadership for you and your brand.
1. Think like a resource, not like salesperson
We alluded to this point just above – consumers today bristle at overt sales pitches. They want informational outlets that will help them make informed choices about products and services, according to Business Journals. Thought leaders use their blogs and social media presence to establish themselves as experts, address pain points and answer questions. That doesn’t mean telling consumers to look elsewhere – these companies are careful to allude to their own services as a means of solving a problem. Consider how people use search engines. It’s far more common they’ll search for a solution to a specific problem than try to find a place to buy something. Bring them to your product by becoming a resource to them first and foremost.
2. Get published
Being published in a reputable journal or even quoted in an industry publication can go a long way toward establishing your brand as a legitimate source. Not sure it’s time to reach out to those independent publishers? Entrepreneur recommends seeking guest posts in other blogs, even across industries. Doing so will introduce you to a broader audience and attract new readers to your site. Then, once you’ve gained a sizeable following, when you do get published you’ll know it will have a significant influence.
“Don’t rehash the same content that’s already all over your competitors’ sites.”
3. Be the expert on your industry
Don’t rehash the same content that’s already all over your competitors’ sites – provide something fresh, forward-thinking or even controversial. Careful with this last one – you don’t want to overdo it. But making predictions about the future of the industry based on your observations and corroborated with third-party sources can distinguish your brand from the scores of imitators. More importantly, this speaks to the first point – providing a resource for consumers. By thinking progressively, readers may come to you for the latest take on a piece of industry news or something similar. That’s what thought leadership is all about – being the first organization to establish value and provide actionable information.
4. Be a driver of change
If you can get your consumers to rethink the way they approach your industry, you’ve taken a major step toward being a thought leader. There are two reasons for this: The first is that it will show consumers have trust in your expertise and believe it when you make a prediction about the sector. The second is that you will have indirectly damaged your competitors – if consumers think differently about the industry because of you, that means your competition will now be a step behind. Entrepreneur suggested upping the stakes by making bigger and bolder claims and predictions.
5. Don’t just be a blogger
Actions speak louder than words and you can put your money where your mouth is by acting on the advice you give. Being a thought leader doesn’t move the needle if your own practices don’t reflect your recommendations. Still, there are other ways to promote your brand as a thought leader beyond blogging. Other kinds of networking can be great ways to build your audience and gain trust. Meeting with prospective clients, holding workshops, attending career fairs or industry expositions, and establishing a presence on social media can all elevate your organization. That’s essential, because those are also channels of business. Those efforts won’t only establish you as a thought leader – they can also grow your bottom line.
Thought leadership is a term that gets tossed around in every marketing circle these days, and rightfully so – everyone wants to be the leader. Many brands think the path to the top is just by inundating the Internet with the same material that’s produced en masse everywhere. Transcend those ranks by diversifying and focusing your efforts. Above all, differentiate yourself – take your brand in a new direction and create separation. Become a thought leader through innovation, confidence and boldness.