Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Thought Leadership

What is thought leadership?

-        Thought leadership means generating original ideas or opinions on a topic that is of real interest to your target market and relates to what you supply

-        Like most marketing, success requires sustained activity and real insight into your target customers and their needs

-        Unlike most marketing, thought-leadership requires frequent intellectual and analytical effort

-        Thought leadership must appear to be objective; the topic area and your ideas must position you as an expert with the solution to your target’s need but without being pushy about your own services or products

Why is it important?

-        Most businesses are increasingly reliant upon online marketing

o      The online marketplace is flooded with competing messages and your targets are overloaded with information, most of which is ignored

o      People look for efficient filters.  One way to do this is to use the recommendations of others.  Your content must therefore be unique and interesting, both to receive attention in the first place and to make it worthy of repetition

o      Search engines, when they assign search weightings, recognise and value content that is referred to by others

-        Most businesses find it difficult to differentiate themselves.  Producing original and relevant content helps to build a reputation for expertise which will lead to sales opportunities

How do you do it?

-        Start with the customer viewpoint.  What problems does your product solve?  What are the triggers or root causes of the need?  What stories do you have about solving these problems?  What did you learn and can you generalise from this?  What tips or techniques can you share?  How are these problems affected by current events or trends?  What new developments are there in the marketplace?

-        If practical, do some original research in the area.  If this isn’t possible, run a survey on a relevant topic

-        Develop reusable content.  Start with a whitepaper, then blog about it, post it on article sites.  Use it in your email newsletter and on social media.  Put whitepapers on your website, making sure that you capture contact details for people who download them.  Run a seminar or webinar on the topic.  If possible get some PR from it

-        If you are not sure how to produce a whitepaper then look at some examples and adapt the layout and tone to your market – or pay a copywriter to write one from your content

-        Incorporate your thought leadership activities into your marketing planner and follow it – don’t leave it until “things are quiet”

-        It’s marketing – plan it, be consistent and persistent, stick to the plan and measure the results

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