Building marketing success with what you’ve learned
You spend years in an industry learning things that few people may know. You’ve seen success and of course also failure and you see firsthand the changes that are occurring within the industry you chose as your career. In many cases you’ve had to adapt to those changes to remain successful. Today this knowledge and experience is called “Thought Leadership” and it’s not simply empty marketing “jargon”, it has become a powerful marketing strategy when fully understood and strategically applied.
It’s really a hybrid of public relations and content marketing that enables organizations to leverage their expertise to address target audience’s issues and concerns on specific market subject areas. In fact you’re reading an example of that right now!
The goal of PR is to build mutually beneficial relationships between companies and their public (in this case by sharing information), while content marketing is a strategy focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and informative content to not only attract, but also to retain a clearly defined target audience to help drive action by your customers that leads to profitable, new/continued business encounters.
You want to offer content that is in some way unique, either in its perspective, its depth of research, or its authority and relevance to a specific market need/issue. It is not simply providing information for the sake of providing information. No. You have to realize the benefits that come from thought leadership, which means these benefits, must align with your strategic brand’s priorities and key marketing objectives.
Business Benefits for Strategic Thought Leadership
Successful thought leadership offers many benefits, the most important of which is of course eventual sales. But it’s more than just that; it’s really you understanding where your brand’s expertise lies. Where is your niche and most importantly why is it important to your target audience. But there are basics you need to understand to implement a successful thought leadership marketing strategy:
- Differentiate your company by being a trusted source of answers to your audience’s most burning questions – but not necessarily by focusing on only one point of view. Differentiating perspectives should be offered even if your company is partial to one solution. There are always different ways to look at providing the needed information, and you want your audience to understand your knowledge and credibility, not just what you happen to be selling.
- Establish authority by focusing on first-hand knowledge and the expertise of your brand. That expertise makes your content authentic, so it’s wise to focus on research and first-hand knowledge, then develop your thought leadership position. The best part is this can be unique to your brand and help you stand out with authority against your competition.
- Find out what users need to know. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But this might take some work. Intelligence you get from your field sales people will help, however you may have to do some digging. Do some keyword research. Check out social media (LinkedIn preferably), forums, association message boards, and find out what kind of questions are being asked. Then use what you’ve learned as the foundation to develop your own thought leadership position for your brand. It’s all out there; you just need to find it.
Thought leadership has some built-in advantages because it showcases your company’s expertise, knowledge and authority within an industry. It builds trust between your brand and your audience. Your customers will recognize your brand’s expertise in their industry as a signal that your brand is indeed among the best at what they do.
Finally, when thought leadership is executed effectively and consistently you become the source of answers to user questions, and provide the solutions to their problems. And this aids the process of moving your prospects down through that long sales funnel. Doubts that a customer might have as to whether your brand is the one they want to align with will be eliminated and will position your brand in their minds as the one key source they can rely on.