Whatever your services or product, it is no longer enough to be a business name in the background with a catalogue of items that you hope will jump off the shelf, or the web page, into the hands of your customers. In our blog, Let’s Get Engaged, we talk about the importance of creating a relationship with your customers and of offering more than just a ‘product’ and, unfortunately, it’s a concept that some businesses are still struggling with.
What differentiates you from your competitors? Great price? Reliable service or product? Customer-focused attitudes? Possibly.
Customers are seeking more. They want a relationship, and they want to feel that you are working hard to earn their respect.
One way to elevate your business and truly engage with customers is to become a ‘thought leader’. Thought leaders are informed and knowledgeable experts in their field; the go-to people who offer reliable and current information, who seem successful and innovative and who are ready to engage customers rather than just sell.
It is possible to work on becoming a thought leader, whatever industry you are in. For example, opticians have an opportunity to become experts or thought leaders on eye health, farm shops could frequently publish about sustainable living and legal firms might become the font of knowledge for wills. The whole idea of setting yourself up as a thought leader is that your name becomes associated with a particular area of expertise. When your customer, or potential customer, needs the services or product you provide, your name is the first name they think of as they already TRUST you.
Sadly, earning the status of a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long term goal that requires constant nurturing. So how do become a thought leader…..?
How Do You Become A Thought Leader?
Generally speaking, thought leadership means having an informed point of view and broad knowledge about your industry and the issues that affect it. Thought leaders rely on content marketing to elevate their status to ‘experts in their field’ and regularly provide content on their speciality topic through digital channels, customer communications and seminars, conventions, exhibitions, etc. Content may include blogs, published articles on LinkedIn, newsletters, workshops or vlogs.
es, increased customer loyalty as well as more initial enquiries which can be converted to sales and greater lifetime value.
Thought leadership helps your content stand out among your competitors and if you’re social media savvy, or employ someone who is, you need to publish or promote your content frequently on a variety of channels.
Becoming a thought leader will not happen overnight. Indeed, it may never happen if you don’t have the confidence or clarity to speak about your passion (your business) in an authoritative way.
How To Use Thought Leadership For Success
Our five tips on how to become, and then promote yourself as, a thought leader:
- Identify a topic that is closely associated with your brand. Actively present yourself as being an expert on that topic (make sure you are, of course!). Publish often, on a variety of platforms and ask for feedback.
- Do some research and take note of any competitors who publish content in your space. Observe their habits and ideas. Follow experts in other countries and expand your reading.
- Identify the questions your customers are asking. Provide answers or solutions to those questions across multiple platforms in a way that adds value to your audience. Ensure your content is relevant to your audience. Go further and identify the questions your customers aren’t asking YET!
- Be innovative and varied in delivering your content; use all available channels of social media and try different methods of spreading your knowledge such as seminars, workshops, downloadable booklets, etc. Use humour and be very ‘relatable’.
- Ask for feedback and encourage conversations or discussions on your content. Be responsive and check in regularly to update or add to any ongoing discussion. Your aim is to educate your customer but remember they won’t always see things from your perspective. Viral comedy videos might be your idea of humour, but they won’t appeal to everyone.
You cannot simply pop up as a thought leader overnight. Building credibility and trust takes time and effort. But don’t underestimate your potential as a thought leader. If you know your skill or product well, consider yourself an expert and want to engage with customers, start promoting yourself. You may reap the rewards in a year or so and find yourself elevated to a far greater soapbox than you had anticipated.