Thought leadership – the process of leading a company and an industry using your unique industry and expertise – can be used as a very cost-effective marketing tool. If you’re not using it yet, consider doing so in 2015!
Several years ago, I co-founded an integrated investor/public relations firms (PortfolioPR later known as Target 3 Communications) and leveraged our clients’ expertise to gain attention of investors and customers. (We helped a public company increase double its market cap to over a billion dollars, and helped a division of another company turn its “roll-up” of six companies into the new industry leader.
Recognizing the cost-effectiveness of this content marketing approach by potentially charismatic leaders, we launched Thought Leader Excellence, offering both our services and educational workshops. As our Vistage New York members are learning, it’s a great way to increase visibility among the 18,000 Vistage CEO members who want experts to help them grow their companies.
This weekend, I ran across an article describing key characteristics of great marketing approaches, and thought I’d share a few with you.
- Know Your Target Market. Sharing ideas that will appeal to “everyone”, dilutes the power of the message. Communicate content that’s essential to your target market and do so in a way that will have influence. Give a message that the audience is interested in hearing at that time, and in a form which will resonate with their receptivity. In a sales process, each connection requires a slightly different message, rather than repeat the same material over and over again (and audiences therefore turn off!)
- Tell Customer-Centric Stories. Sales experts advise us to focus on the benefits, not the features. Using that approach and tell the story from a customer’s perspective, not from an objective scientific approach. If your product lasts three times as long but only costs 25% more than a competitors’ product, what does that mean for the customer? Which matters more to your audience – less down time, life-time value, time saved having to repurchase? Vary the way you tell the stories: Case studies (which focus on challenges, traditional solutions, your unique solutions and the impact for the customer), customer success stories, with quotes and satisfaction-pictures, best practice summaries, reviews by other experts, etc.
- Use a Multi-channel Media Campaign. Use all appropriate media to create a multi-channel message reinforcing campaign, leveraging the unique characteristics of the media (e.g., social media, blogs, columns, whitepapers, op-eds, etc.). Since people think in terms of words and pictures, with the latter more efficient, use meaningful graphics – rather than generic stock images– to powerfully connect. This includes customer logos, quotes, charts, photos of happy customers, etc. Remember, from an internet search perspective, using multi-media increases searchability, interest and engagement.
- End with a Call-to-Action. Sales experts report that 50% of all sales people fail to ask for the order at the end of the pitch. With thought leadership, there is no direct pitch, so the call-to-action is more subtle: making sure reference-sites (e.g., websites, whitepapers) are made available and listing your contact information.
How are you using Thought Leadership to promote your personal and/or corporate brand? How well is it working – are you measuring the ROI? Share your experiences with us here. (For more information on how Thought Leadership can help you, contact us at www.thoughtexcellence.com.)