You’ve been focused on the strength and stability of your organization’s brand since Day One. As the CEO, it’s safe to say you’re more than invested in the organization—you’re committed for the long haul, and you’ll do what it takes to provide value for your customers. However, while you know your company has a lot to contribute to the surrounding community, something important has been missing from your marketing.
While most executives believe the marketing department should tackle all the particulars of their marketing efforts, a different theory is emerging. It says the entire team—especially those who lead the company or manage its reputation—should jump on board and lead by example.
Thought leadership marketing is a method of marketing that positions the leader of an organizations as the subject matter expert for your products or services within your industry. Gone are the days of throwing together an ad or campaign and hoping it gets your message out to the masses. When it comes to most products and services, customers remain loyal to companies they trust. Instead of putting together sales-heavy content designed to drive a purchase, you want your brand to be seen as having mastered a certain product or service and is positioned to bring your expertise to new and current audiences.
“There are some industries in the marketplace that allow business owners to rely solely on the laurels of their products in order to generate sales and referrals,” explains Clint Butler, a marketing consultant for Digitaleer.
If your consumers consider your company a thought leader, they’re more likely to be interested in what you sell.
But, old-fashioned thinking like this is now the exception, not the rule. Butler says companies need to secure a remarkable level of trust from their customers to secure a loyal following, and thought leadership marketing is a conduit for building that confidence in the brand.
If you’re the CEO or reputation manager of your company, there’s no doubt about it: Your voice speaks the loudest when it comes to communicating the message of your brand. Not only that, but you’re likely the most knowledgeable about the product or service being sold. If you genuinely believe in your organization and its mission, turn that thought process into true strategy and champion thought leadership marketing as your primary marketing game plan.
Your first step in being seen as a thought leader in your industry is to digitize your intellectual know-how and disseminate it to the masses.
Whether you use blog posts, podcasts, social media posts, or videos, the goal is to demonstrate to the world that you’re an expert in your field. Those who learn about your prowess in the industry can then trust your knowledge so deeply they’ll automatically know they are making the right choice in purchasing your products or services.
“A reputation of expertise in a field or area of interest is a powerful way to generate engagement with specific target audiences,” according to Eric Elkins, CEO and chief strategist for WideFoc.us Corp. Organizing and presenting helpful, relevant content will help build community and increase goodwill among customers. If your content is powerful enough, it will pique the interest of other influencers and keep your articles and advertisements circling.
But, knowing exactly what type of content to produce to engage your audience and demonstrate your industry expertise can be difficult—start by creating assets that can be repurposed and shared over multiple platforms. For example, videos can be shared across multiple social media platforms as well as embedded into a blog post or article.
As the primary protector of your organization’s reputation, it’s not enough to take a back seat and leave content creation up to your team. By partnering with your marketing or advertising department, getting involved, and providing some guiding expertise, you’ll be able to produce powerful content designed to differentiate your company from your competitors.
The key to a great product is creating something that fulfills your consumer’s wants and needs or provides a solution to their problem. Find out why your customers need the products and services you offer, and then take it one step further—figure out what questions they’re asking about the goods you’re selling, and then create content that answers them.
“In an age of information and product overload, it is increasingly important to spend the time within your consumers’ communities, so that you are actively listening and then joining in the conversations to find out what they are looking to know, what they need, and what they are not currently finding in products,” says Lucy Rendler-Kaplan, founder of Arkay Marketing & PR.
As the leader of your company, if you’re not championing the departments under you to actively seek and answer the questions your customers are asking, your clients are going find someone who does. Never before have consumers had such access to online forums to ask questions, review products, and analyze goods and services. Encourage your entire team to honestly assess their marketing efforts and, if necessary, shift their efforts to provide solutions to customer problems rather than options for them to purchase.
Consumers today are suspicious of online advertising. Email inboxes are full of spam, and the average person gets so many daily promotions from companies that the most popular email platforms out there have created folders with built-in filters to simply manage the madness.
Instead of pushing empty content that merely tells your customers to go spend money on your product, focus on becoming an authentic resource for them. “When communicating with today’s savvy consumers, it’s about educating them along each phase of their buyer’s journey—not simply bombarding them with features and benefits,” says Kornel Kurtz, CEO and president of WebTek. He makes it clear people don’t want to be sold to day in and day out. They want solutions for their problems and answers to their questions.
Instead of kicking back in your big CEO chair while your marketing team pushes promotions, get down on their level and launch the idea of creating engaging and interesting content that is actually an asset to the customer. Allow yourself to be recorded, or post a “Message from the CEO” to your social media that addresses concerns or gives advice. If your consumers consider your company a thought leader, they are more likely to be interested in what you’re selling.
As CEO, you’re already an expert on your products and services, so it’s time to get the word out there and start using thought leadership marketing as a primary means of promotion. Set up a series of meetings with your marketing department to explain this new ideology, and start brainstorming ways you and your organization can become a thought leader in your field. Find your niche, expand on it, and make sure you start publishing smart, pertinent content in places where your potential customers will see it. Make bold claims, drive new ideas, and start networking to make your company’s voice heard.
Our list of strategies was created to help CEOs like you see the value of thought leadership marketing. This list aims to inspire the way you move forward with your organization, champion the thought leaders who are already present in your company, and continue developing more leaders as the word spreads. Once you get the ball rolling, it’ll be tough to make it stop!
It might take a bit of strategic planning to get started with your team, but the payoff is huge. Now that you have these strategies for making thought leadership your primary marketing game plan, learn more about how to differentiate between your branding and marketing and how to use both to bolster your bottom line.
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