Why Now Is The Time To Invest In Thought Leadership?
COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of businesses and continues to do so as the world battles this global pandemic. With only a fraction of regular business travel, networking, meetings, tradeshows and conferences taking place in a live environment, we are spending more time than ever in front of screens and need to be able to confidently connect, lead and do business online. This, combined with the disintermediation trend in traditional media, means that business owners and leaders need to take more ownership when it comes to owning and telling their story online, making sure their voices and businesses are heard by the people that matter most. This is exactly why now is the time to invest in thought leadership.
To remain visible, relevant and competitive in this new business environment and knowledge economy requires new strategies. This includes the use of digital channels and the adoption of new technologies. Businesses are increasingly interacting with employees, customers and other stakeholders online and marketing and PR needs to move beyond the traditional strategies as well.
Become a leader, not a follower
With the ever-changing media landscape and sharp rise in the use of digital and social platforms, you and your organization need to cut through the clutter and position yourself as a thought leader in your field, not a follower.
You can do this by commenting on topical issues on your website, in a blog or on social media post; by giving your professional opinion on an industry trend or event in a short video; by writing articles for media titles about topics you’re an expert on; or by giving a presentation at a (virtual) conference or by speaking in a panel alongside other subject-matter experts. Thought leadership comes in many forms, and your strategy needs to be aligned with your expertise, experience and business objectives.
Thought leadership content is different from marketing content in that it’s designed to provide insights, solutions, advice, education and support to your audience as opposed to selling or marketing your company’s products and services. In doing so, you build rapport and trust and exude confidence, authority and credibility with those that you’re looking to reach. To gain traction and truly engage with your audience, you need to give your audience something to talk about. If done well, thought leadership helps build, manage and protect the reputation of your business.
Build your business, own your story
As with everything in life, to get results you need a plan. Before you embark on developing thought leadership content, develop a strategy first and incorporate your thought leadership approach in your content marketing strategy to align your efforts. Here are five key questions to ask yourself when you’re developing your thought leadership strategy:
1. What am I looking to achieve? What are your business goals and objectives? Do you want to develop more brand awareness? Are you looking for investment? Are you launching a new product or service or are you entering a new market or sector? Define your goals to align your thought leadership with your business strategy
2. What’s my story? What’s the story you want to tell? What are the key messages you need to convey? What topics can and do you want to discuss, and how do these align with your products and services and your business objectives?
3. Who do I need to reach? Who do you want to talk to? What does your target audience look like and who will you be writing for? What do they search for, what keywords do they use?
4. Where is my audience? What channels, media and platforms does your audience use? Don’t choose the channels you prefer or are most comfortable with, but be where your audience is
5. How will I promote it? Once your thought leadership content is live, how will you market it to get more eyeballs, reach and engagement? How, when and where can you promote your content? What channels can you use to share it?
Writing a blog for your website or making a post on LinkedIn may seem easy but establishing strong and lasting thought leadership in your industry is a strategic process that takes careful consideration, thorough planning, a consistent presence and lots of thought.
By Anne Bleeker, In2’s Co-Founder and Managing Director