Are you a thought leader in your industry?
Your current marketing strategy probably aims to make others aware of your company and its offerings. This could include a look at the latest products, courses, sales, or a behind-the-scenes peek at everyday life in the office. But have you thought about how you’re positioning your company within the industry? The concept of “showrooming,” otherwise known as researching a product before making a purchase, has plagued retailers for years, especially with the rise of e-commerce and online shopping. How you position your products and industry knowledge is no different – you want to stand out, and can do so by producing thought leadership.
What exactly is thought leadership? Thought leadership should ultimately position your business as credible, knowledgeable of your offerings, and ahead of the curve. It can consist of any content that shows that you have a strong grasp of your business and the industry at hand, whether it be trend reports, SWOT analyses, or other important information. It can include whitepapers, research articles, state of the industry reports, how-to guides, or the analysis of any company data. It can also include interviews with employees or management.
Earlier this summer, Mantis Research and BuzzSumo released the State of Original Research for Marketing 2019, a survey surrounding the use of original research in marketing. As CustomerThink reported on the study, they noted that “a substantial number of companies have made original research an integral part of their marketing efforts.” Buyers value thought leadership efforts, as it often weighs into their decision to proceed with doing business with a company (or not). Fifty-five percent have said it is an important way to vet potential suppliers.
Where to begin? It can be overwhelming to suddenly decide that it’s time to produce thought leadership, so consider the following:
A how-to guide for becoming a thought leader in your industry:
Produce new information – don’t repurpose what’s already out there, or rehash what everyone already knows. Pick a new topic or choose to provide an update on a past topic. Research this topic, and find something to say about it. With 2020 looming, you may want to take an educated look at how the new decade will impact X, Y, or Z in your business or industry.
Be authoritative – whatever you’re saying, back it up with facts, figures, interviews. This isn’t an academic research paper, but the structure of one should provide some guidance. Otherwise, you’ll risk rambling on for pages and pages, without entirely fleshing out your topic… or your conclusion.
Conduct your own research – again, don’t rehash what’s already out there. What has your team of data analysts or scientists discovered recently? Are you making product claims such as “38% more effective?” If so, tell your readers how this occurred! If you’re able to prove your claims are indeed factual, you’re one step closer to becoming a thought leader.
Consider the past, the present and the future – giving an inside look at your company and what’s to come can provide a glimpse for current and potential clients of a future working relationship with your company. You may also take a look back at what has propelled your business towards success in recent years. Again, 2020 presents a built-in marker for any research or updates you may wish to produce.
Consider the benefits of being a knowledgeable leader within your industry: On social media, having a personality will help you stand out. However, posting funny videos won’t always help you get ahead. Following the above tips will position your company as credible, progressive, and knowledgeable of industry topics at large.
Like any other marketing effort, one piece of thought leadership won’t be enough to sustain your business or make it appear attractive to others. Consider producing this content on a regular basis; monthly or quarterly are optimal. Share your findings on LinkedIn, your website, and at any expos or in-person appearances. Over time, a steady stream of reports, insights, and analyses will propel you towards the “thought leader” title for which you’re aiming.