Thought leadership is the industrial equivalent to the influencer superstars of the consumer marketing arena. These leaders are executives or businesses that take it upon themselves to educate the industry and represent advancements and best practices in their respective markets. The idea is that you not only know the most current and relevant concepts in the market, but also that you are an expert, trail blazing forward for your industry. Becoming a thought leader is not something that will happen overnight. It has to be cultivated and once it happens, you will be in the position to steer the industry.
What are some of the strategies that you can use to develop thought leadership?
One thing is for certain, while positioning, it is imperative that you are active. Actively deliver high value content, consistently provide insights, and stay engaged by providing answers when people are asking questions. There is more than one strategy your company can employ while generating content to instill trust and educating your base. Once you make the commitment that your company wishes to start developing thought leadership, you need to decide how to deliver your information. This will vary, depending on your specific industry.
One of the most direct routes to accomplish this is through speaking or presenting. The most common and certainly, most targeted approach, is seminars that take place at every trade show. Trade shows traditionally reach out to their previous exhibitors, asking them to provide an abstract for presentation. This is a great opportunity to dive into detailed insights that you've devolved about your industry or alternatively, could be an overview of the current state of the industry, projections, and/or predictions. Wide or narrow, make sure that you are providing accurate information in an organized fashion. We recommend you start wide and as time passes, you begin to drill into a specialty. This will make it easier to ensure that you have enough material to arrive in your desired goal of thought leadership.
One of the reasons that public speaking is so powerful, is that many companies are resistant to presenting. This leaves a vacuum filled with a few gutsy companies, ultimately winning trust, because they are brave enough to become leaders. There are many reasons why some companies may be resistant to presenting. Maybe they believe that they don't know enough or that they haven't employed any strong public speakers within their organization. Use this to leverage yourself into a speaking roll--just start. Potential clients are looking for you to be brave, not necessarily eloquent.
Another great option, is getting published in trade publications. Many companies believe that all articles come exclusively from the editors and journalists at trade magazines. This is simply, not true. They are vetted by these people, but many stories are submitted by companies in the industry. The key with this strategy, is to cast the topic beyond your company. Attempt to discuss something that a majority of the industry is facing together. Provide insight into possible (or tested) solutions to the problem.
Social media is another popular and very active, but slightly longer-term solution to becoming a thought leader. This audience demands more content, but may introduce you to a larger base in the long-run. Here, you will have many delivery options. You may choose to use video, blogs, open forum, or podcasts--or a combination of all of them. In any event, consistently publishing content is the key on social media. A great tieback strategy, is to host all of this content on your website, and link everything up to social media. This will ensure that there is no doubt who the information is coming from, especially if your competitors try to share it, all while providing excellent SEO reinforcement.
Hosting Industry Events
One of the last strategies that we will discuss here, is hosting industry events, discussions, and presentations. This can come in many forms, round table discussions, demonstrations at your or a customer's facility, training seminars, or open houses. Whichever route you decide to take, you will be showing the initiative by coordinating, financing, and building value for the industry.
A Cautionary Note
Any article about thought leadership would be remiss if we didn't mention that you should not be shamelessly promoting your product with these strategies. Shameless promotion will have the exact opposite effect of thought leadership. However, it is acceptable to briefly mention that your company has the solutions to these problems, but generally, the content that you are presenting should be able to stand alone without your product. This is what will build trust with your base. Keep your eye firmly on the horizon, because once you develop the trust of your base, you will always be their first call or email to get an answer to a problem.
Thought leadership is a powerful goal and has a profound impact on a companies' ability to attract clients, talent, and a build strong brand reputation. A great strategy is to engage in as many of these strategies, with strong frequency, as you can manage. If you are able maintain consistency in delivery and message, you will be providing massive value to your industry. Customers will be coming to you to solve their complex problems, and you will be ready to address their problems, with your solutions and products.
Contact Nesbit Marketing to develop a thought leadership solution.