If you come across naysayers who are convinced that thought leadership belongs in the ‘marketing fluff’ basket, I’d agree with them if they think that it is supposed to immediately deliver a hundred new leads and a spike in the bottom line for the business.
Positioning your business as a thought leader is prepping and strengthening your position in the marketplace for the long term.
‘Is it mind control?’ someone asked the question, probably in jest, when I proposed bringing thought leadership into the communications strategy equation for a leading tech exporter. In hindsight it does sound like a legitimate question.
We eventually got the idea across and started working the thought leadership aspect of the strategy, and its execution is starting to bear results now.
But I realised it is worth clarifying the misconceptions around it and also to discuss why it is important. Thought leadership is definitely not mind control. It is also not driven necessarily by a personal agenda. Nor is it another platform to talk about one’s own products and services.
Being a thought leader means that you (or your company) offer the most insightful answers to the biggest issues your customers or your industry faces. And in-depth knowledge is all you need. Well, that and the ability to communicate that knowledge and the willingness to share ideas that will benefit all stakeholders in the industry.
That bit about communicating your ideas is important. It can be in the form of developing relationships with customers, prospects and industry peers in conversations that are non-sales related yet industry relevant. In a B2B context especially, being the source of original research, insights and interpretation of latest market trends plays a huge role in how present and future customers and other stakeholders look up to you. Using the company’s blog (such as this) is the perfect place to share insights in an informal yet meaningful way.
If you’ve made the effort to create and maintain a presence on social channels, be active and answer queries on those channels and foster more conversations.
With sustained conversations and original content published across your blog, social channels, events and personal conversations, you will observe a definite increase in the readers exhibiting a higher interest in what you and your company have to say. And remember, among this audience are also your future customers.
If you’re still in doubt about the efficacy of thought leadership as a genuine tool to present your company’s expertise and industry knowledge drop me a line and I’d love to have a chat about it over a coffee. (Or stout. Love Stout.)