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An Answer for Growth Starved Companies: Thought Leadership

July 7th, 2017 by Dale Jones

Growth starved companies are commonly practicing Random Acts of Content; releasing periodic white papers, articles, videos, and blog posts with little focus or depth. However, when you are dealing with high level clients facing serious business challenges, this scattershot approach provides little value.

Thought LeaderThe answer is Thought Leadership:

An invitation for discussion…which ultimately provides an opportunity to get to know your client – and connect better – through meaningful communication.

A Strategic Thought Leadership Program helps position you as The Trusted Advisor in your industry.

Gartner, Inc. the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company defines Thought Leadership Marketing as “the giving – for free or at a nominal charge – information or advice that a client will value so as to create awareness of the outcome that a company’s product or service can deliver, in order to position and differentiate
the offering and stimulate demand for it.”

A thought leadership program provides the organization, the executives and the salespeople with a sustained stream of education and advisory content to help open doors, make more effective sales calls, differentiate their organization and deliver trusted advice, services and product. 

As you build a thought leadership position over time, your company will be increasingly seen as an industry authority, resource and trusted advisor, enhancing your brand’s visibility and reputation, helping you generate revenue and inspiring client loyalty.

In order to reach those objectives, a strategy is required which focuses on the creation of content relevant and compelling to your target audience, engaging those audiences where they congregate.

Thought leadership programs enable companies to leverage business development, marketing, sales, and strategic branding.

There are practical steps your company can take to design and execute a thought leadership program to help your sales force generate measurable sales growth in the next sales quarter.

  1. Build the foundation. Like building a house, a thought
    leadership program must be built on a sound foundation. If a thought
    leadership program is going to create business value, it needs to directly
    support your sales process and drive your communications, branding and
    product sales goals.
  2. Create building block assets. A profitable thought leadership
    program is built upon a common set of sales assets – such as original
    research reports, client videos, client ideas, practical “how
    to” articles, client education web sites, and advisory tools – all
    integrated with your sales process.
  3. Deliver multi channel programs. Deliver these
    thought leadership assets to your clients using disciplined sales programs
    such as education events, monthly “micro sales campaigns”, sales
    calls, e-mails and phone calls.
  4. Take a Stand: Make bold statements that might
    seem counterintuitive to what common sense says. You have to think about
    your messages as something someone is going to want to read.
  5. Be Vertically Famous: What you want to do is figure out
    to which audience you wish to be famous. You want to be known by all in
    that very particular industry.
  6. What Does Your Competition Miss? It’s a good
    idea to see what is not being done well, or perhaps not at all, by your
    competitors.
  7. Develop Your “Voice”: Whatever your
    style is, make a conscious decision to use and develop it. This is
    integral to your new branding effort.
  8. Get Published: There is a distinct halo effect
    when you can add the word “author” to your attributions.
  9. Start a Newsletter and a Blog: If your
    product or service has a long lead time, it makes good sense to start a
    periodic publication online. An e-newsletter is the most obvious way to
    go, but you should probably augment and amortize the content by employing
    other channels, such as publishing your own blog. When done right, there’s
    no better way to spend your marketing money.
  10. Talk Less, Listen More: Ask questions of everyone around
    you.
  11. Press the Flesh: In this age of increased computer
    marketing, there’s a lot to be said for a physical presence.

Leverage your content. A thought leadership program is about pervasive presence and ongoing conversation, not just traditional publishing and speaking. Clients want to think about and debate your ideas.
To encourage and facilitate this discussion, you need to leverage your thought leadership content by publishing compelling bits and bytes in appropriate formats across the networks and channels frequented by your clients.

If you’re working on a white paper, for example, you want to think: Is there a short video we can produce?

Where can we blog about this?

What articles can we publish?

Where are the opportunities to brief our clients on our new thinking?