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Thought Leadership Will Grow Your Business. Here’s How to Do It.

Posted by Ryan Hilliardon Mar 15. 2018 12:00:00 am

90% of the people you want to do business with value thought leadership.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this graph compiled by Edelman and LinkedIn:

thought leadership

They found that 9 in 10 decision makers look to thought leadership, and spend at least one hour with it each week.

Still on the fence about it?

Because your competition isn’t.

56% of B2B businesses are actively trying to become thought leaders in their niche.

That means your lack of action is just making it easier for your competitors to beat you.

Let’s not have that.

I want to show you how you can become a powerful thought leader in just four easy steps.

But first, let’s look at what thought leadership looks like.


Thought Leadership

Pamela Keniston from Marx Communications gives a very succinct list of what thought leadership looks like:

  1. It’s in a particular niche.
  2. It’s typically achieved through blogging.
  3. Social Media is a huge part of it.
  4. Sharing industry expertise is essential.
  5. Speaking opportunities are a great forum.
  6. Just being nice gets you far.
  7. Face recognition will come.

You can wrap this discussion up there if you want – and many do.

But how does that help you actually stand out?

Because like I said, your competition is also trying to be a thought leader. They’re taking the same steps you are, and may even be beating you at it.

So to help you dive deeper into what you can do better, I’ve compiled a 4 step plan to set you apart.

Ready to get started? Here’s step one:


Step #1: Format your information better.

Chances are you have the same information as your competitor

The same statistics, metrics, and warnings.

Even the same advice!

But how is that making you stand out? That sounds more like blending in to me.

One of the best ways to fight this is to simply format your information better.

Instead of providing a list, create an eye-pleasing graph.

Or pull out your smartphone and create an engaging Live video that disrupts your content pattern.

Or create an infographic that not only educates but engages. Like this infographic about infographics:

thought leadership inforgraphic

 

Image Source

Simply improving your format can help you stand out. It will take your best ideas and make them even better.


Step #2: Provide more than knowledge

Knowledge is good.

Or as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

But is it everything you need when it comes to thought leadership?

I don’t believe so.

Why? Because so much of the B2B sales experience is centered on the customer relationship.

That means you need to take things a step further. Don’t just share knowledge. Find a way to creatively build trust.

That means doing something entertaining or hosting a free laundry day like the Coin Laundry Association.

It’s outreach and actual leadership that lends itself to future sales.

Cool, right?


Step #3: Develop resources, not just content.

Another area that needs some scrutiny is the type of content you produce as a thought leader.

I’m not talking blogs vs. videos either.

I mean just content vs. resources.

A resource is something you can turn to in a time of need. It’s tangible, delivers value, and goes the extra mile when solving a problem.

Getting out of the content box and focusing on resource development will launch you above the competition.

But, it requires getting dirty.

You have to dig deep and find out what your audience really needs, not just what you want to sell them.

It makes a difference.


Step #4: Stay practical

I want to end this piece with a word of caution:

Please stay practical.

Your customers don’t expect you to just magically become a thought leader overnight. It’s a process.

That doesn’t mean they don’t need what you have to say. You just need to keep your approach as practical and as useful as possible as you build your reputation.

Create simple, short, and to-the-point content. The less you beat around the bush, the shorter your path to thought leadership is.

You and your audience will reach the desired outcome sooner this way.


Create a Juggernaut

Thought leadership requires quite a bit of infrastructure around it to succeed long term.

If you want to get started as a thought leader, I recommend evaluating your overall marketing approach first.

That’s why we’ve created our Ultimate Marketing Checklist, just for you.

Check it out!

Topics: Digital Marketing

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