Reaching people with your marketing message used to be simple. Brands could push information out to their audiences while they watched TV, listened to the radio, and read newspapers or magazines. Today, we consume our information in snippets from dozens of different sources throughout the day. We’re tweeting in between watching videos and sharing life’s moments on Instagram.
Industry experts who share their expertise, whether in person, online, in print or in broadcast, for the purpose of educating others, become thought leaders who add value to an industry as a whole, and in turn, to the organization or brand they are associated with.
How Effective is Thought Leadership?
As customers are more connected, engaged and empowered, they expect insights from and relationships with brands. Thought leadership as a PR strategy can help you gain visibility, differentiate your company from competitors and build trust.
In fact, it’s a strategy with numbers you can’t afford to ignore:
- 88 percent of consumers think thought leadership is important or critical when creating their short lists for purchases.
- Marketers rank thought leadership development and dissemination as the #2 priority behind lead generation.
- More than 90 percent of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with sales professionals who are viewed as thought leaders in the industry.
How Do I Become a Thought Leader?
Thought leadership takes time, years even. It requires niche expertise and knowledge, but more importantly, a unique way of thinking. Simply reiterating the status quo on healthcare legislation will not make you a thought leader. You must be willing to take risks, challenge convention, think out-of-the-box, drive innovation, and expect pushback. According to Denise Brosseau, “thought leadership is not about being known. It is about being known for making a difference.”
Here are a few ways to get started on your path to becoming a thought leader:
- Creating the right content can help you become a trusted industry thought leader and resource for valuable information. If you include compliance in the process, you can make sure you’re on side with the regulations and eliminate the fear factor.
- Develop insights and actionable planning strategies to respond to the industry environment. Think about the channels available to disseminate your content and best reach your audience. Your website, blogs, social media channels and self-published white papers are all ways for you to share your ideas within your industry and beyond. Share, share, share!
- As your brand or reputation starts to gain momentum, start networking and connecting with other thought leaders in your niche. By surrounding yourself with mentors, movers and shakers, not only will you learn from them, but you will gain authority and credibility.
For one of our clients, SPR created a targeted thought leadership campaign to increase awareness of our client’s position as the leader in their space. A series of informational bulletins and white papers that were sent to customers, referral sources and media formed a key part of the campaign. The bulletins consistently showed high readership, pass-along rates and circulation, as well as increased visits to the website, opening doors with senior management of client companies and stimulating demand with employers.
Below are a few thought leadership tips for consideration:
- Focus on LinkedIn when initiating a thought leadership campaign. As LinkedIn is a network for professionals, it’s more likely you’ll get noticed by people in your industry than other social media sites.
- Publish white papers and case studies illustrating and showing your audience that you have the expertise instead of simply telling the outside world your organization or expert is a thought leader. “Show me, don’t tell me,” is the phrase that comes to mind here. SPR has had very successful thought leadership campaigns with clients in the past who, as a result of publishing white papers examining common issues and trends, have received increased media attention and therefore greater exposure and visibility in their industries. Also be sure your thought leader comments in multiple channels such as print, social media, blogs, and video.
- Review your marketing strategy. Make sure your organization is producing content that speaks to your audience’s needs and/or pain points. If your content isn’t relevant to your audience, you’ll lose them.
The excerpt above is from our new e-book which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
If you’re in healthcare, insurance, technology or other professional services industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact Scott Public Relations.
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