Thought Leadership Webinars

Developing Inner and Outer Qualities for Thought Leadership

People have often wondered what it takes to be a leader. On the outside, leaders present themselves in such a way that everyone wants to be them. We all want to be successful. We all want people to look up to us. On the other hand, when we realize what it takes to actually be a leader, we might be a bit hesitant to take up the task.

Thought leadership is no different from leadership in other fields of life. It requires dedication and hard work. If you go by what Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers, it takes about 10,000 hours of hard work to be successful in any field. So if you want to be a thought leader, you might need to put 10,000 hours of work into it.

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Make Your Thought Leadership Count By Integrating Internal Experts

Educating yourself about thought leadership is a curious experience. While you can easily find countless posts emphasizing the importance of establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry to aid your marketing efforts, few tutorials actually outline specific ways in which you can accomplish that goal.

Too often, articles stop at the why, without delving into the how – a crucial oversight for marketers who are trying to be thought leaders in their own right. So we’re here to change that! To make sure your thought leadership efforts are not a waste of money and actually benefit your business, consider one of your most favorable resources: your own employees and co-workers.

Employees as Experts

If you have built your business the right way, your employees are already experts in what they do. More than any marketer who seeks way to promote a business, they know the ins and outs of their job, and likely of their industry as well.

Why should a higher education marketer seek to promote herself as a thought leader if the faculty members, thanks to years of study and research, know so much more about relevant topics? Should a fashion marketer really try to write about the newest fashion trends, when front line employees and inventory purchase agents know so much more about what sells well, and what’s up and coming?

More likely than not, your employees do what they do because of some interest in the field. And over years of working in their position, they have developed an understanding of your industry that is more customer-oriented and goes into more depth than any marketer ever could. So it’s time to start putting this invaluable resource to good use in your thought leadership efforts.

Establishing Thought Leadership Committees

The most straightforward way to turn thought leadership marketing into a collaborative effort is to establish thought leadership teams and committees. These committees can help you brainstorm topics that potential customers might be interested in, as well as outline the specific strategy of publishing your content and reaching your customers.

Ideally, your committee should include everyone involved in the marketing process, as well as the employees that know most about the topic in which you want to establish your brand as a thought leader.

Going Beyond Committees

Committees are a great start in authenticating your thought leadership efforts. But for true success, consider involving your internal experts directly in your content strategy. You can do that in a variety of ways:

  • Co-host a webinar. In most cases, your experts will not be experienced marketers, and may not be comfortable public speakers. Co-hosting a webinar about your employee’s topic of expertise allows you to steer the ship while showcasing your employee’s expertise.
  • Guest Blogging. Who usually publishes on your business blog? More likely than not, the publishers will consist of two to three authors at most. Broadening the scope not only allows you to avoid your blog becoming stale and predictable, it also builds credibility by letting you branch out into specific topics of expertise, covered by an authentic expert in that field. You can still act as an editor to ensure the content does not contradict your brand voice, but be sure that the expert’s unique voice shines through for added credibility.
  • Video Q&A. As video continues to flex its muscles in the digital marketing space, why not branch out from the typical, promotional 30 second clips you see anywhere? A Q&A means giving your experts valuable face time, establishing in the minds of your audience that thought leadership in your business comes directly from your employees. You can even include shots of the employee at work, further increasing his or her credibility.

 

Consider this example: you’re small ad tech company looking to sell your new Facebook analytics solution to small business marketers. Establishing thought leadership in this scenario means having to convince marketers that you know as much (if not more) about the digital advertising environment than they do – a difficult proposition.

But you know who just might know most about the way Facebook rates ads and bids? Your developers – the people who established your software to be optimized for that environment. So why not get them involved in a webinar, writing a guest blog, or in front of the camera to share their thoughts on the backend of Facebook? In doing so, you will establish your company as one that knows the backend of Facebook inside out, making you the perfect vendor for your analytics solution.

The Value of Showcasing Employees

As you probably know, you can use a variety of tactics to establish credibility in the eyes of your audience. While most content marketers generally choose leadership credibility as their preferred method, it’s far from the only possibility.

In fact, depending on your industry, your audience may actually prefer peer credibility, learning about your company and its thought leadership from someone they perceive to be on a similar level as themselves. Couple that with the fact that your employees are possibly your most valuable resource for industry expertise, and including your internal experts in your thought leadership marketing efforts makes inherent sense.

 

Are you looking for guidance in establishing yourself and your brand as a thought leader? The possibilities can come from unexpected sources. You may not think about your salespeople or shipping processors as a resource to establish thought leadership but in reality, their knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge could be just what you need to get your content marketing efforts off the ground.

Native Publishing: The New Thought Leadership Frontier

“You need to build thought leadership” is easy advice to give a marketer looking to build their online presence. Grow your perceived expertise in your field, and you will gain credibility in the eyes of your audience, who will begin to lean your way when the buying decision inevitably arises.

But just how do you go about building thought leadership? Content marketing is a major force, as methods like blogging and webinars (even webinar series) give businesses large and small an outlet to establish their expertise. Traditionally, most content marketing occurs on your own website. But increasingly, social networks are beginning to enter the conversation, establishing the new frontier in thought leadership: native publishing.

What is Native Publishing?

First things first: don’t go looking for definitions of native publishing, because they simply don’t yet exist. Instead, think of it along the lines of native advertising: hampered by years of audiences focusing their attention away from sidebar and banner ads, advertisers have embraced the option to focus on promotional messages that appear within the general content area. We’re talking about newsfeed ads in Facebook, search ads atop the organic results, etc.

Native publishing is not all that different from native ads in that the content appears within the medium a user spends their time in to begin with. ‘Traditional’ content advertising requires promotion of the content (which is hosted on your website) via a link, requiring users to exit Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else they may spend their time. Native publishing, on the other hand, allows users to read the entirety of the content without ever leaving their social network of choice.

The Options in Native Publishing

The advantages of native publishing from a social network’s perspective are obvious: just like you, they don’t want their users to leave their site and read content elsewhere. Put simply, the longer an individual session, the more advertising dollars the network can earn. Users who click a link often don’t return to their social network of choice, incentivizing these networks to offer native options instead.

LinkedIn was the first to do so, when it broadened its Pulse publishing platform to the entirety of its user base last year. Now, the network offers daily featured articles customized to each user’s individual interests and preferences that appear right in its newsfeed.

Facebook has long offered a native publishing option with its Notes feature, but saw its use diminish to almost nothing over the past few years. So the network reacted this September, when it updated the feature to offer more incentivesto publish long-form posts right on the network. Some (including us) have speculated that Twitter’s rumored removal of character limits will not apply to all Tweets, but signify a new, long-form publishing option on the network. In short, native publishing options are growing rapidly.

Native Publishing Advantages

Of course, the mere presence of a new marketing option doesn’t automatically guarantee success of justify spending valuable time and resources. Social networks know that as well as we do, which is why they’re sure to advertise the plethora of advantages that can come out of publishing thought leadership content natively rather than on a blog. And as it turns out, the advantages are undeniable.

Think about the process probably use currently to publish and promote your content. You write a blog post, which will live on your website and hopefully gather page views from your subscribers and its search engine optimization. But in addition, you likely want to promote it on social media, ensuring that it reaches a wide audience of people who may not yet know about your brand. As a result, you need a two-step process: publish your content, then promote it separately on social media.

Native publishing ostensibly removes one of these steps by taking care of the promotion for you. LinkedIn’s Pulse offers publishers the opportunity to ‘tag’ their posts, which in turn boosts viewership to users who may have never heard about your brand before but are simply interested in the subject. Gather enough views, and your post will become ‘featured,’ which means it’s sent out in a daily digest to users around the world. In short, LinkedIn takes care of the post promotion for you.

Integrating Native Publishing Into Your Content Marketing

If you’re ready to abandon your current content marketing strategy and jump fully into the native publishing realm at this point, we don’t blame you. But don’t be hasty: instead of merely switching all of your efforts to this new frontier, it pays to carefully integrate native publishing into your strategy as a new, additional tool instead of the new normal.

For starters, a major advantage of content marketing is that it increases your site visitors, via SEO and other inbound-focused methods. Building thought leadership can only be successful if you offer users a natural ‘next step’ to take, and that’s done far more easily if the content lives right on your website. In other words, website-based content continues to be a valuable marketing tool.

Native publishing on the other hand, is particularly helpful if you’re looking to build awareness and thought leadership among new audiences. Someone who has never heard of your brand before will be much more likely to read your content if it requires minimum effort, such as not having to leave their current medium. At the same time, content that’s curated on a platform like LinkedIn’s pulse will allow you to reach users who may not (yet) be actively searching out your services.

Here is our recommendation for integrating native publishing into your content marketing and thought leadership efforts: use it for top-of-the-funnel messages that are industry focused and not promotional, simply offering a way for audiences that haven’t yet heard about you to learn more about their industry. Meanwhile, you can continue to use more involved methods like webinars and ebooks on your website to draw users in who already know about you as a valuable resource in their industry, ultimately enabling them to take the next step toward becoming customers.

Building thought leadership and establishing credibility is crucial in today’s digital age. And while there are a multitude of methods available to do just that once users already trust you enough to hand over their information, marketers have lacked options to convince audience who have never heard of them about their expertise. Enter native publishing, the next frontier in thought leadership building and one that, done correctly, could transform your content marketing efforts.

Thought Leadership Webinars

How Webinar Series Can Build Your Thought Leadership

If you’re an experienced marketer, particularly if you operate in the B2B sector, you likely know about the value of webinars to your lead generation content marketing efforts. Webinars continue to rank among the top inbound marketing lead generation tactics, even improving in effectiveness between 2013 and 2014.

You might also know that webinars play an important role in establishing your brand as a credible source of leadership within your industry. But did you know that you can take your quest for thought leadership even further with one simple strategic adjustment? Enter webinar series.

The Prevalence of One-Off Webinars

Considering their effectiveness, webinars of any type continue to be underused. But even among marketers who do take advantage of this type of content marketing, the vast majority choose the simple variety: single webinars, based on individual topics, that are relatively easy to plan and prepare.

Chances are you’ve seen these types of isolated events. But if you have not, here is a perfect example: The American Marketing Association offers some of the most sought-after webinars in its field, continuing to establish its position as a voice of authority within the marketing community.

Yet, a single look at its schedule of upcoming webcasts reveals a simple truth: each of them is focused on its own topic, isolated from the other events. Depending on their specific industry, marketers can sign up for one of the webinars, but due to the non-existent connection between the individual webcasts will have little incentive to sign up for a series of them.

Increasing Effectiveness with Webinar Series

Enter webinar series. As you might imagine, webinar series are a number of interconnected webinars that build on each other under one common, overarching topic.

Depending on your industry, you may want to create a series on the intricacies of the supply chain, dedicating each of its stages to one (or more) webinars. Or you could create a series on the importance of safety during home construction, aimed toward contractors. Compared to the prevalent one-off webinars, these types of series offer a number of distinct advantages:

  • Establishing a Relationship. The above AMA example illustrates perfectly the pitfalls of one-off webinars. While they work well for lead generation, they offer little opportunity to ‘hook’ your leads with recurring content. As any inbound marketer knows, lead generation is only part of the equation. Nurturing those leads by slowly guiding them through the sales funnel on their way to becoming customers is just as essential. And whereas one-off webinars can help provide one piece of the puzzle to success, webinar series can make up a large part of the puzzle by themselves. In today’s increasingly democratized digital advertising environment, building a relationship with your customers is important, not only to nurture your leads, but also to increase repeat purchases – which, as you probably know, is a major revenue driver. And webinar series do just that, tying your leads and customers to a topically-themed range of events that will keep you in their minds once they nudge closer to a sales decision.
  • Multi-Use Possibilities. Another significant benefit of webinar series is their use in more than just one area. Experienced webinar hosts know that while the live event is an important part the webinar experience, recorded webinar are just as (if not more) important. In fact, a 2013 study showed that only 16 percent of B2B customers preferred to watch a webinar live, while the vast majority either preferred the recorded alternative or did not have an opinion either way. Webinar series can live on your website as lead-generation machines long after the initial event. Of course, that’s not all that different from their one-off alternative. But here is something that is: turning your webinar series into a podcast. Podcasting is steadily growing to become a force in digital marketing, and spreading your brand identity to this medium allows you to tap your audience in new ways. And while one-off webinars are difficult to turn into effective podcasts, webinar series lend themselves perfectly to the changeover in medium. Potential listeners can subscribe to the podcast knowing exactly what to expect, as the entire series is focused on a distinct topic.
  • And then, of course, there is the most distinct advantage of webinar series:

 

How Webinar Series Enhance Your Thought Leadership Efforts

We’ve come full-circle. By building a relationship with your webinar attendees and utilizing the series in a variety of ways, you ultimately pursue and achieve one goal: building thought leadership. In addition to establishing the necessity of relationship building, the increasingly democratized digital environment we mentioned above also comes with another side-effect: your audience will only trust you if you have established an aura of expertise and credibility within your field. And while you can establish thought leadership using a variety of methods, webinar series can go a long way toward doing just that.

For starters, you can use your series to invite established experts in your industry to speak on certain topics. Thanks to your webinar’s Q&A session at the end, your event will serve as an outlet for industry clients to get an in-depth look into each of the topics you cover. For real-life evidence, check out the case studies in this whitepaper by the Content Marketing Institute on webinar series

How To Become A Thought Leader

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a thought leader as “one whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential.”  So, for example, Sigmund Freud can be considered a thought leader in the field of Psychology.  Or Malcolm Gladwell can be considered a thought leader in the field of contemporary critical theory.

Thought leadership can be seen in every field.  These are people that everyone has heard of at some point or the other.  Even if you don’t watch movies too often, you might have heard of Martin Scorsese.  Even if you don’t believe in mind-body healing, chances are you’ve heard of Deepak Chopra.  And even if you aren’t in a relationship, you’ve probably heard of the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray.

Whether you’re a company or an individual, you can also become a thought leader in the field of your choice.  Here are a few tips to help you do so:

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