As more and more businesses start marketing on the internet, it becomes harder to stand out. How do you get readers to click on your page or read your blog? How do you make sure that your voice is heard in the crowd of others vying for attention?
The answer: Thought Leadership.
75% of business decision-makers will follow a writer if they display thought leadership. If you can establish yourself as an expert in your field, people will come to you first. Customers will want to hear your opinion on emerging trends, products, and services. By clearly showing your expertise and offering studied, well-thought-out explanations, you will be sought out by customers.
According to Digital Authority Partners, thought leadership in IT marketing can feel like an intimidating goal. Many IT companies don’t consider content creation a priority. Blogs are not given the proper amount of attention to really serve the company.
This is further fueled by a misconception about what it takes to be a thought leader. You do not have to write out long, overworked articles about every single new trend on the market. It does not have to be a massive, time-consuming project. There is a number of forms that your content can take and there are no rules regarding the amount of information.
Your content can be a video, a blog post, an audio recording–it doesn’t matter. What truly matters is the quality of the content. Instead of trying to wring out a 3000-word article about a new trend, find out what your audience wants to know and highlight those important factors. What are the confused about? What are the excited about? What are they concerned about?
By focusing on those key points, you save yourself time in creating content and you save your readers time in finding the answers that they want. No one wants to skim through ten pages of information to find the answer to a single question.
Blog posts and articles are the most common form of content that we see today used by 79% of marketing teams. A good way to use a blog to display thought leadership is to problem-solve for your readers. Anticipate the problems that buyers in your market may be facing and try to provide them with information and solutions.
If you are running a business that sells a product or service to solve this problem, highlight that product or service. Try not to sound to sales-y though. The main focus of these posts should be to provide information that your audience is looking for. Include your product or service, but don’t let it take center stage.
By focusing on the information instead of a sales pitch, you will draw in a wider range of readers. It will build your credibility with your audience because they know that they can trust your opinion. In fact, 87% of business decision-makers say that thought leadership increases their trust with a company.
If your readers can clearly see that you are trying to sell them a product, they will feel that you are biased and cannot provide them with reliable information. If your post is 80% information and 20% referencing your product, they can still find 80% of the post useful without ever purchasing your product.
“But wait, I want people to purchase my product!”
They will. But first, you need to establish that you are a trustworthy source. By displaying that you understand the problems that your customer is facing, they will be more likely to believe that your product will solve these problems.
They will also be likely to revisit your page because they know that you provide good information. They will share your page with friends or colleagues who may also need the information that you provided. They may then go on to make a purchase. Traffic will increase and you will have more opportunities to sell future products and services.
Have an Opinion
In order to truly become a thought leader, you are going to have to have strong opinions that are written in a confident way. You may turn away some traffic because of this, but you will most likely gain a lot more from people who share your opinion.
Purely informational and fact-based blog posts and articles can be useful. However, if that is all you publish, you will not stand out from the hundreds, if not thousands, of other blogs posting the exact same facts and information. 55% of It decision makers say that they look for thought leadership to help them choose between the companies that they decide to partner with.
The thing that makes you stand out is your perspective. Create original content that you believe in. Don’t be afraid to upset a few people. Ultimately, you want people to visit your site because they want to hear your take on new trends and technology. Once readers start to trust your opinion on things outside of the scope of your business, they will start to trust your judgment on your products and services as well.
In a list of search results that go on for pages and pages, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from your competition. If you do what everyone else is doing, you will get the results that everyone else is getting.
Lift yourself up above your competition. Go the extra mile to prove to customers that you are the voice to listen to in your industry. Or choose to work with a consulting agency who can help out with your goals (check this list as a starting point).
Customers are searching online because they are looking for answers. So give them answers! In doing so, you become a thought leader and build a loyal audience that trusts you, trusts your brand, and trusts your product.