The ability for companies to reach out and speak to their audiences in new ways is as important as ever. Studies show younger generations have become immune to traditional advertising. That’s why the term “thought leadership” has been among the most important marketing concepts in the past few years.
Thought leadership is reaching out to a target audience in a meaningful way. By leveraging expertise and thoughts from inside talent, companies can provide informative content to address questions or problems the audience faces. In short: It’s using industry know-how and original ideas to build respect and trust with consumers.
This can take many forms: blogs, interviews, videos, events, webinars and much more. But it’s essential for your thought leadership content to be thorough, original and compelling.
The impact of thought leadership
Using a thought leadership strategy in your marketing mix will help build your brand reputation. Sharing your thoughts and expertise starts a conversation among potential consumers, allowing them to build trust and recognition with your brand.
A study by Edelman and LinkedIn focused specifically on thought leadership with business-to-business sellers. The study surveyed more than 1,300 business decision-makers and a number of chief executive officers and founders.
What it found was that 88 percent of business decision-makers and 89 percent of C-suite executives said their “respect and admiration” for an organization increased because of thought leadership. The study also found a direct connection to actual sales. Forty-five percent of decision-makers and 48 percent of C-suite executives said thought leadership “directly led” them to give business to a company.
How can you implement it in your marketing mix?
Thought leadership is a subset of content marketing, which has seen an explosion in popularity itself in recent years. If you think of one spectrum of content as advertising — like a political flyer with information about a candidate or opponent, for example — the other end of the spectrum is thought leadership. It’s authentic and relevant, devoid of careful messaging.
So where can you start?
First, identify an issue or problem your target audience is dealing with. This can be something circulating in the news, a problem in the community or a question you’ve received from multiple customers.
The next step is to leverage your business’s expertise, whether that be through yourself or through other employees in the organization. It’s important to execute this properly, though, so find someone who can clearly and enthusiastically communicate their thoughts. You can use social media, your website, video or a whole host of media to distribute thought leadership content.
The aforementioned study also found that poor thought leadership can actually hurt your business. Among survey-takers, 30 percent of business decision-makers and 35 percent of C-suite executives said poor thought leadership “directly led” them to not award business to a company. Take your time and do it with strategic purpose.
So for your next marketing effort, try writing a blog on how your business has retained top talent. Or shoot a video commenting on an issue within your industry. Your potential consumers will take notice. Leveraging your thoughts, visions and expertise will help increase your brand reputation and could lead to more business — directly and indirectly.