The term “thought leadership” can induce cringing for many — it’s overused, misused, and misunderstood. Still, it’s coveted as a tool for branding. Businesses from big to small seek footholds as thought leaders in their respective industries because thought leadership establishes an individual or brand as the paragon of expertise.
While thought leadership does wonders for branding, can it correlate to lead generation?
The reason thought leadership helps you bring in leads is because buyers in this digital age increasingly look to social media and businesses’ online presences to determine if products and services are for them. They want to know you’re the expert before they make a decision. You have to demonstrate you are the expert with content.
With that in mind:
1. Spam is the antithesis of thought leadership.
You might think that you’re doing your blog right by rehashing other publications’ content five times a day, or writing about your own products. Wrong.
Just because you have tons of content on your site — or you’ve repurposed it somehow — doesn’t mean that it’s driving any value to your target audience. Readers are savvy to reworded emptiness these days, largely because there’s so much of it on the internet. True thought leadership stands out for its originality, consistency, quality, and authenticity.
These qualities in your content will tell your audience that you are not only the expert in your field, but that you are invested in delivering relevant, helpful content to your user base. Which brings us to why establishing yourself as a thought leader is one of the trickiest things to do.
2. Thought leadership takes time.
No one becomes a thought leader overnight. Creating content strategies to consistently populate your blog or other channels with read-worthy content is difficult and can be time-consuming! But, in the end, you will have a life-long trove of expert goodness to point to, followers to cite, and industry prowess to share.
This archive of content will demonstrate your devotion to staying up on trends, educating yourself, and addressing customer needs — eventually bringing folks down the sales funnel.
3. Try to leave your ego out of it.
Another tricky task. It’s hard not to feel special and a teensy bit inflated when you’ve got a few thousand clicks on a blog, or have been asked for your expert input on someone else’s. But, the more you check the puffed feathers at the door, the more your readership will benefit and will consequently be more convinced to sign on with what you’re selling. This means going as far as looking at what your competitors are doing — and embracing it.
To a reader, reposting one of your competitor’s articles is a point of interest, leads them to ask questions about your brand, and encourages them to look into what you have to offer to answer those questions.
Effective thought leadership doesn’t just mean posting your own articles and sharing everything that you know. It means humbling yourself and your brand to admit — and share — when a competing brand has an equally valuable or more impressive piece of content.
4. Thought leadership has replaced ads.
80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get information from articles rather than advertising, and 40% of millennials don’t trust ads. The digital age has spawned a generation of buyers who know they can get the real truth about your business from the internet. Use this to your advantage.
Advertisements will always be useful, but content can introduce new, educational ideas to readers while exposing them to your brand. Remember #1! You’re not here to sell, you’re here to offer valuable information. True thought leadership educates your customers down the sales funnel.
5. Stay engaged.
- React to comments on articles you write — especially the ones that disagree with you. Don’t pick a fight, engage in intelligent debate.
- Introduce a splash of personality in your content to connect with your audience’s vulnerabilities. (Think back to #3.)
- Acknowledge when you’re wrong. (Thank those who take time to correct you.)
- Promote when you’re right. (There’s nothing wrong with self-promoting praise you receive from your industry peers.)
Thought leadership helps you look like an unbiased party if you do it correctly. (Think back to #1.)
Thought leadership can come in many forms, whether that be speaking at multiple conferences, getting published in publications outside your own blog, or hosting webinars. Talk to Mojo to find out more about how you can use this method of content marketing to elevate your business and drive leads.