Everyone’s talking about thought leadership. But why is it important? The reality is we’re living in a world where it’s essential for business leaders to develop and articulate their strategic thought leadership platforms. By initiating a genuine dialogue with your target market – whether that’s through mediums like surveys, owned social media, or even visuals – you can help establish yourself as an authority and build your customer base.
As a tech company, naturally you want to position yourself as an innovator and leader in the industry. But how do you sift through all the noise to get to the important nuggets? Here are some points to consider:
Don’t Just Focus on Your Company and Products
In fact, if you mention your company name in an opinion piece it’s likely to be denied completely. For example, here’s the policy of a popular, marketing-focused trade blog: “Marketing Daily accepts commentaries that are opinions only and not those that are more like content marketing, esp. as they might reflect on the business model of the author’s company. If s/he has opinions on current events or trends, please share.” As such, your primary goal should be to engage your audience with passionate, relevant industry or global business topics – that they also happen to align with your company mission is an added bonus. Find out what your customers are interested in and speak to that in a meaningful way.
Content Marketing Does Not Equal Thought Leadership
Not all content marketing is thought leadership, but thought leadership pieces can be highly effective for content marketing. There’s a trend today to closely connect the two as if they were essentially the same thing. Sure, content marketing is a great way to drive leads – and you may receive the added bonus of PR-able content or images – but it’s often more concerned with quantity and volume rather than forward-thinking, pioneering and problem-solving quality. Thought leadership should bring content with intent, meaning a clearly articulated, unique point of view with outside validation to lend credibility. This brings me to our next point.
Your Unique Point of View Needs Proof Points
What establishes your credibility and makes the ideas stick is the proof, the data and the support that substantiates your unique point of view. Third-party research and proprietary data that your company has collected can be published in the form of surveys and research studies, which may be useful for your customers, business partners and the media.
For example, PRIVATE WiFi, a company dedicated to educating consumers effectively and inexpensively about protecting themselves and their sensitive information on the Internet, conducted a study to demonstrate an important point. The findings showed that although people are concerned about Internet privacy and the security of sensitive information, they still persist in risky behavior. A number of prominent media outlets, such as The Washington Post and Fast Company, covered the valuable, useable data that the survey supplied. PRIVATE WIFI also received many inbound media inquiries requesting the company’s perspective on timely privacy concerns, which helped them become an important resource to key reporters relevant to their business.
Getting the Word Out
You want to get the message out there and you want it to be consistent in the media you use. Here are formats to consider:
- Press interviews
- Articles written for outlets that accept contributed pieces – think business outlets such as Forbes.com, as well as trade publications like Mobile Marketer or Gamasutra
- Speaking engagements, including panels, keynotes, fireside chats
- Owned social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn
- Research and survey reports
- Visuals: Photos, images, graphs, charts, infographics
Powerful ideas that strategically contribute to the conversation will easily rise above the chatter. If you’d like to connect with us about thought-leadership platform development and strategy, please contact us.