When you think of SEO and Google, Matt Cutts probably comes to mind. And when you’re researching the future of internet marketing, you’ll probably read an article on Jeff Bullas’ blog.
Despite the resounding success and instant recognition from many prominent thought leaders, misconceptions about this buzzword still prevent many from realizing its potential.
I regularly hear people say that they don’t have the ego for thought leadership or that they feel it creates an illusion of credibility – and they are not completely wrong.
Amassing 20,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t automatically declare you a thought leader, though many self-proclaimed “thought leaders” disagree, and those are the examples that eclipse its potential.
Thought leadership isn’t about prioritizing your personal needs – the goal is to educate your audience, challenge the status quo, and become a trusted source of information. And that valuable marketing ammunition will bolster your business goals.
When you develop a specific strategy and execute it effectively, thought leadership can impact these six areas of your business:
- Sales: Consumers don’t want to be sold; they want to research products and services to make informed purchasing decisions. If salespeople provide educational content to prospects that walks them through their questions and concerns, prospects will filter out and conversion rates will skyrocket.
- Public relations: Brand awareness and positioning are paramount to business success, but they can be difficult to manage through public relations. By writing your own content, you control the conversation about you and your business and establish credibility through your published byline.
- Social presence: Sharing valuable information on social media is a great way to engage with your audience and maintain relationships. And using social media to promote your internal content will educate your audience on your value proposition and facilitate trust.
- Recruitment: Publishing consistent content will quickly attract the attention of top talent in the industry. Not only will this expand your audience and reach, but by showcasing your company’s credibility and forward-thinking mindset, you’ll also position your company as an attractive employer. It really is that simple. Additionally, you can use evergreen educational content to train new hires.
- SEO : Google rewards businesses that produce consistent and valuable content with higher search rankings. And almost all updates – including Panda, Penguin, etc. – distinguished high-value content.
- Branding: Thought leadership can shape and strengthen your personal brand and humanize your business in the eyes of your audience. Consumers want to do business with people, not companies, and personalizing your brand through thought leadership can help you achieve that.
Thought leadership has had a clear purpose for nearly all aspects of your business, which is not the case with most marketing strategies. Plus, it’s a differentiator that will work to your advantage long after most marketing fads are gone.
To capitalize on these long-term benefits, follow these four simple steps:
- Define your business goals. If you don’t set clear goals — beyond appearing in high-profile publications — you can’t measure your results. Before launching a thought leadership campaign, identify your goal for each article, as well as the overall strategy.
- Establish a consistency process. Producing an article or two won’t instantly land you speaking engagements, boost your search rank, or boost your sales. Consistency of content is key to staying on top with your audience and building a more meaningful and trusting relationship.
- Leverage content across all departments. Make sure the leaders of each department fully understand how to integrate thought leadership content into their departments. You’ll likely see resistance if employees can’t identify a clear benefit behind these efforts.
By repurposing thought leadership content to serve every department, I have seen firsthand the power it has to drive your business forward. New employees arrive well equipped with the industry knowledge and additional training they need to excel in their role, saving valuable time and resources. All employees are better informed of industry news and committed to the success of the company. And that alone validates its ROI.