Thought Leadership Marketing - Foxtail Marketing

How Thought Leadership can Change your Marketing Strategy

Every business on the face of the planet has a marketing strategy. Whether this marketing strategy is actually doing its job is another question, but at least one exists. For those looking for new ways to improve their marketing strategy, one idea to consider is thought leadership marketing.

With thought leadership marketing, data is analyzed and ideas pondered until leaders are able to find ways to maximize their marketing strategies. Instead of simply delving into the world of content marketing, inbound marketing or SEO, for example, these leaders live in this world. Taking some plays from their books will help us all become better thought leaders and ultimately better marketers.

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The Thought Leadership Train is Leaving the Station: How you can get on it Today

There’s an old saying. “Leaders are made…not born!” This concept has definitely sparked some debate in its time, but there is definitely some truth to it. Think back to all the leaders you have come in contact with over your life. Are these people who have simply been thrust into leadership roles, or are they those who strive for excellence?

Chances are, you have come in contact with quite a few of these types of leaders. The people who take on challenges that no one else is willing to tackle. Those who know exactly when to do something and how it will affect the world around them.

From the outside, it may seem as though these people simply have something that you don’t. However, there are some things you can do to put yourself in the same position. This is what becoming a thought leader is all about. Here are some tips to get you started becoming the thought leader you were meant to be today.

Thought leadership

3 Styles of Thought Leadership: Quantity, Originality and Trendsetting

Just as real life leaders have leadership styles, so do thought leaders. According to this article from Entrepreneur, there are four types of leaders in Game of Thrones: the surreptitious, self-serving leader embodied by Cersei Lannister, the naïve leader with all the best intentions, embodied by Daenerys Targaryen, the leader who’s not so great with people, embodied by Stannis Baratheon and the young leader who inspires engagement embodied by Jon Snow.

Since Jon Snow is now dead, killed by his own men at the wall, we may question this writer’s analysis! However, there is something to be said for the idea that each leader has different characteristics. They may all have one thing in common i.e., leading people, however they each do so in different ways. And when it comes to thought leadership as well, you can adopt different styles, depending on what you prefer and what works for you and your audience. Here are a few ideas:

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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.

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