The choices available to your prospects are overwhelming, and your competition is smart. So how do you stand out? How do you make your prospects turn to you? Positioning your firm as a thought leader in your market is a great way to rise above your competition. It helps you:
- Earn trust and build credibility
- Expand your market
- Increase your qualified leads
- Engage with market influencers
- Shorten the buying cycle
What does it mean to position your firm as a thought leader? It means that you actively create an image of your firm in the minds of your audience as an authority, a resource, and a trusted advisor on issues they really care about. You accomplish this through thought leadership marketing, using a variety of media, including books, white papers, blogs, articles, social networking, speaking, etc., to brand your firm as a thought leader.
Thought leadership marketing helps you to earn trust and build credibility and recognition, differentiating you as one who clearly understands the business needs of your audience. And most importantly, it mobilizes your audience to think and act — engaging with you over the long term. It’s a means of building awareness of your firm, generating and nurturing leads, and fostering customer loyalty. Your prospects talk about you, recommend you, choose you. And research shows clearly that word-of-mouth recommendations are the number one influence on a prospect’s decision to buy.
There’s one key consideration you must keep in mind when engaging in thought leadership marketing: your audience determines whether you are considered a thought leader, not you. Don’t be presumptuous and make pronouncements about your own thought leadership. If you really are a thought leader, your audience will let others know.
Thought Leadership: What Counts
Here are some actions you can take to position your firm as a thought leader:
- Conduct original research that highlights industry challenges and best practices to meet those challenges.
- Demonstrate proven expertise in solving problems that are currently challenging your audience and clearly show how you solved those problems for others and delivered significant business results.
- Develop a well-researched idea that addresses something your audience never really thought about and point out to them how it’s relevant to their issues.
- Create a clear and practical way to address an industry problem that’s different from existing and competitive approaches.
- Establish a strong point of view on an issue that sets you apart and makes your audience think about the issue and engage with you.
- Offer deep, research-based insight into market trends.
- Target your market influencers with any of the above thought leadership marketing initiatives.
- Actively engage in thought leadership marketing so you’re seen as the thought leader, not your competition.