One of the ways in which brands can win their customers’ trust is by positioning themselves as experts in their field of activity. This is called thought leadership, defined as an expert’s willingness to share their knowledge and educate others. In this article, we will show you how to create effective thought leadership strategies for your business.
What Exactly Do You Have to Do to Build Thought Leadership?
This is a long-term plan, which you should approach with dedication. It takes time and effort to build your reputation as a leader in your fields. But thought leadership strategies make the difference between top brands and everyone else in their market.
Consider this Dove campaign launched in 2005. It shares the company’s insider information on how ads targeting women are edited to create unrealistic ideas of beauty and, ultimately, sell products. Of course, Dove also sells beauty products. But through thought leadership strategies like this one, it tells women that they can actually expect to see the results advertised in Dove commercials.
So, what Dove really did in this campaign was to expose some of the secrets of the beauty industry. Another thought leader relevant for our field of work, Neil Patel, helps marketers and businesses understand how Google works and what they have to do in order to rank higher in search results.
Thus, ultimately, in order to build thought leadership strategies, you have to start by asking yourself: what am I really good at? And how can I help people by sharing my knowledge?
Thought Leadership Strategies Start with Authenticity
We keep speaking of authenticity in our articles. And you may wonder why. The problem is that internet allows anyone to pretend being anything they want. A no-name company promises a miracle diet and people fall for it. A so-called guru says that they have the secret to generating passive incomes with zero efforts, and people buy their e-book.
Ultimately, people realise that they were tricked. This is what happened over several years, as online companies flourished. But now the consumers are savvy and wary. They will not spend one single dollar before they can be sure that:
- You are a genuine business enterprise
- Your products are genuine
- Your products actually do what you promised in ads.
This is why establishing your authenticity is the first step – not just in thought leadership strategies, but also in business.
The Benefits of Thought Leadership Strategies for Your Business
Now, you may wonder if the extra effort required for building thought leadership is really worth it. Even if you are a small or medium sized business, you should strive for excellence in your field.
Thought leadership means:
- Building trust and credibility in your brand in the most effective way
- Helping you identify and promote your unique selling point
- Creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement in your company
- Supporting your content marketing strategy.
Key Thought Leadership Strategies for Your Small Business
Here are some simple and effective ways in which you can build thought leadership. We considered all the aspects in making these recommendations, including the fact that you are running a small or medium sized business and cannot invest in expensive and complex strategies.
1. Know Your Area of Expertise
We start with the first question: what am I good at? Each business has an area of expertise. A bio cosmetics company is expert in recommending chemical-free beauty products to customers. You know all about the negative effects of chemicals and the positive effects of their natural counterparts.
This is your area of expertise. When someone asks on Facebook or posts a comment on your blog along the lines of “why should I pay more for your products?” you can give them solid arguments.
2. Know Your Potential Clients
Who would pay more for bio, handmade cosmetics? Who is your target audience? You can easily create the buyer persona: someone who cares about the environment, wants to have a healthy lifestyle in every possible way and prefers to shop from local entrepreneurs, instead of big international brands.
Once you know your public, you know what they want to know from you. They are interested in knowing how you make your products, how they can be sure that they are made with 100% natural ingredients and what motivates you to run this kind of business.
3. Consider Your Competitors
You are not the only bio cosmetics producer in your service area. There are others, who are also working towards establishing their position as leader in this niche. A big part of thought leadership strategies is knowing what your competitors do, finding an area, a gap, that they do not cover, and inserting your business there.
For example, many companies offer bio face cream, bio soap and bio makeup. If you are selling bio perfumes as well as other products, this is your specific area of expertise. This is how you can stand out from among your competitors.
4. Be Careful about Outsourcing Content Marketing
Thought leadership strategies involve a lot of content (more of this later in this article). Now, many small and medium sized companies outsource content writing to freelancers. This is a smart way of saving money and having the work done while you focus on core business aspects.
However, you need to make sure that the freelancers or agency you hire can produce high quality content in your brand voice. You cannot risk losing all the goodwill you’ve won after months of hard work with a series of articles or blog posts with spelling and grammar error, devoid of substance or not written in your tone of voice.
Thus, you need to test freelancers before you actually entrust them with the content for your thought leadership strategies. And before you can fully trust them, make sure that you review every single piece of content they submit to you, down to the last comma or full stop.
5. Produce Original Research
The word research sound big and threatening to you, right? You needn’t worry, we do not mean doing research the way scientists do. Instead, what you can do is:
- Creating infographics that let readers understand complex statistical data
- Conduct a survey among your customers and draw conclusions
- Create a case study, asking for customers’ permission to share their success story.
These types of content will establish your position as an expert in your field. Moreover, you will be able to create a solid link building strategy, because high quality and original research is in high demand as reliable source of information.
6. Accept Presentation and Speech Engagements
Sometimes event organisers will reach out to you and ask you to give a talk about your success in business or any other relevant topic. Even if it is not a paid engagement, accept it. You have the opportunity to establish a thought leadership position in front of your actual customers – because if it is an industry related event, you can be sure that potential clients will be there.
Plus, the media exposure is also valuable for your thought leadership strategies. You will get mentions of your brand names in local papers, in the social media and elsewhere online. This is free advertising for your business.
7. Keep Learning
Finally, never assume that you have learned everything about your industry. You are a thought leader as long as you are always up to date with what is happening in your niche. Stay informed, continue to learn and improve your skills, and show it in your content pieces and in the way you run your business and treat your clients.