Companies and leaders who wish to be recognized in their industry and set themselves apart from the rest of the pack can use thought leadership.
Edelman and LinkedIn found that 88% of executives believe that thought leadership can improve a company’s reputation. 48% also believe that thought leadership can positively impact purchase decisions for thought leaders brands.
Decision makers are overwhelmed with content. How can your brand stand out from the crowd?
This article will discuss how to develop a strategy for thought-leadership, how it fulfills the promise (awareness and reputation, business outcomes such as sale growth), and how it aligns with your leadership strategy and innovation programs.
- Thought leadership doesn’t mean sharing your unique thoughts. It requires a commitment to help people through education and consistent storytelling.
- Thought leaders are committed to sharing regularly and communicating with their audience in an open, two-way dialogue.
- Thought leadership is a position for your brand or company to lead the trends and deliver on the most important innovations in your industry, without having to talk about products
What is thought leadership?
When brands go beyond talking about their products and solve industry and customer problems, they become trusted advisors to a wider audience. This is called thought leadership. People listen to thought leaders and trust them. They also turn to them for their advice. This shift will transform your company from being a commodity into a consulting relationship. The price becomes less important.
My definition of thought leadership isn’t about where you went school or what your company looks like. It’s about answering the most fundamental questions that your audience has. It’s about tapping into the community, your employees, and your industry. It can also mean being a better curator than your peers.
Through a steady stream of information, thought leadership begins with understanding the major trends and busting myths. It involves consolidating information, identifying patterns, and helping people navigate their own path better.
Marketers need to be able to distinguish between sharing unique insights at a particular time — sorta like thought leadership’s “one-hit wonder”, and understanding what it takes for original ideas to last. It is not worth wasting time caring for a large tree that has fallen into the woods.
How to Create a Thoughtful Leadership Strategy
Thought leadership is not a tactic to generate content or send out campaigns. It must be in line with your business’s strategic elements and goals.
Thought Leadership Goals
Your company’s mission, business goal, and measurable KPIs must all be part of a sustainable thought leadership strategy. You must understand the benefits of thought leadership and how it can be used to improve your company’s business.
One of the most important marketing functions is still defining and articulating a strong business case. Your thought leadership mission and crafting measurable goals are also critical.
Does the strategy support a wider digital marketing transformation that essentially shifts marketing away from a product-focused function to a buyer journey focused set of programs that align with the buyer’s buying habits.
No matter how brilliant your idea, innovation can’t succeed without an audience that is open to it. It is also necessary to be able influence behavior.
Professor Everett Rogers published Diffusion of Innovation in 1962. It explained how and why new ideas spread across cultures. Rogers stated that people can be broken down into five groups when it comes to adopting and accepting innovation in any industry or society.
- Innovators – 2.5%
- Early Adopters – 13.5%
- Early Majority – 34%
- Late Majority – 34%
- Laggards – 16%
You must understand how to engage and influence the Innovators and Early Adopters who are the leaders in your field and inspire the Early Majority.
The Innovators are the ones who invent new ideas and move society (and industries) towards their vision. They are willing to take risks and try new ideas even if they fail. They are the pioneers of the bleeding edge.
The Early Adopters are hot on their heels. This group is the most opinion-leading of all the groups. They are similar to the Innovators but they make more careful choices as they know that making smart decisions will ensure their leadership position. They are driven by a vision, and will rely on their gut feelings even if the proof isn’t available.
Innovation moves beyond the Early Majority, and the impact of this shifts. It is because other people are trying to imitate and replicate popular ideas rather than expressing original, insightful opinions. This creates noise and clutters the conversation. It frustrates customers and causes confusion. This is the innovation paradox.
It’s not enough just to plan topics and distribute them when you are creating your thought leadership strategy. Understanding how ideas change to meet the demands of a demanding customer base is crucial. Look at the innovations made by Innovators and Early Adopters with mobile technology. You’ll see that innovation does not always refer to product. It can also refer to business and delivery models.
Do you not know where to begin? Ask your customer: “If I were in their shoes, what advice would they be seeking?” This will help you see the larger questions they have about their industry and how it is moving forward. You can now work forwards or backwards depending on where you are at the moment and what your customers need.
This is what you do for them. You create a vision of a new future and then you are a trusted advisor that helps them achieve it. That should ultimately be the driving force behind every thought leadership strategy.
Best practices for Thought Leadership include brainstorming and publishing. Some ideas don’t always resonate. One time, I said HR was the new Marketing to a room of CMOs. They looked at me crazy. The message was refined. I tried out new ideas. Then, I wrote a book!
Thought Leadership Tactics
Okay, now let’s talk about how to define the ideas and tactics that we need in order to deliver the promise of thought leadership. What tools and technologies are needed to support this thought leadership strategy?
My favorite way to brainstorm ideas for clients is to Google a trend or a topic that is new in the industry, and then search for the most recent news about that topic. I used this approach to help a technology client centralize their product strategy. It was a brilliant idea. But I was only following the path it took me.
Thought leadership must first answer a customer’s question or solve a customer problem. It must provide an actionable and useful answer. It must be published and created with sufficient frequency to be easily found.
According to research by Edelman and LinkedIn,
- 66% of decision makers see an increase in thought leadership being published.
- 40% of respondents say it is more than what they can read.
- 71% think that less than half the thought leadership they are seeing is valuable. HOWEVER,
- 48% of the business was awarded to the company because of their thought leadership
- 53% more business with thought leaders organizations
- 71% of decision-makers use thought leadership to keep up to date with the latest trends.
This is the paradox I previously mentioned. If you don’t provide enough thought leadership, your brilliant ideas won’t reach the masses. If you create too many, your audience may become overwhelmed. Poor thought leadership can lead to people losing interest. How can we solve this problem with thought leadership?
How to create thought leadership that drives innovation
These best practices will help you earn trust in the age of fake news and thought leadership content. You need to make it authentic, humane, and thoughtful. It should also be based on the intention to help your industry or audience. Our bullshit meters go up. We won’t accept self-promotion.
We looked for innovative examples of thought leadership that worked and found these core best practices.
- Focus on growing. According to McKinsey. A focus on your audience’s growth and reaching their goals is a great way to ensure you are in alignment with them.
- Recognize and celebrate your innovators. It is easier to foster a culture of innovation and a positive cycle.
- Get your employees to become thought leaders. They are more likely to develop authentic and consistent thought leadership programs than if they just create a few pieces of content.
- Make it easy for people to learn and test new ideas. Only 8% of leaders in companies want to share their ideas. Multiple venues allow them to contribute, which increases their chances of being heard.
- Insights are key to driving strategy. We use keywords, search queries, and lots of brainstorming to develop content plans each year for our clients.
- Measure thought leadership success. Metrics such as website visits, search rankings, and other metrics can be a great tool. At the individual level, is your leader asked to speak at events? This is a great indicator of individual success. To help leaders improve, we use the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (image). One program saw a 60% increase in score when participants shared and shared their ideas, learnings, and experiences.
You want to drive innovation and growth with your own thought leadership?
Leadership that leads to innovation and growth is not an easy task. But we can help.
Our weekly content marketing service will help you achieve measurable growth and become an authority in your field by publishing quality content consistently.
Get in touch with me to set up a consultation and receive a PDF copy of my books for free. Get started today and you’ll be able to generate more leads and traffic for your business.
Marketing Insider Group’s article How to Create a Thought Leadership Strategy that Drives Innovation appeared first.
By: Guest Author
Title: How To Create A Thought Leadership Strategy That Drives Innovation
Sourced From: marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/thought-leadership-strategy-innovation/
Published Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2022 16:00:00 +0000