Let’s face it; buyers are unlikely to take you seriously unless you’re a big-name brand or they have heard about you from an independent source. Unless you are Google, Apple or you happen to know the buyer’s cousin, you might as well not exist, right? Wrong. You can establish thought leadership and build awareness through a smart content marketing campaign.
You have likely read blog posts explaining how to establish thought leadership in 10 Easy Steps or other such nonsense. But establishing real thought leadership, the kind that can position you as a trusted source (and one worth buying from), is npt some kind of cheap parlor trick. Content marketing takes work. With so many brands out there clamoring for the sacred status of “thought leader,” you need to go the extra mile with your content marketing if you want to position yourself as a truly trustworthy and authoritative brand.
Authenticity Is Key
“Thought leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.”
– Michael Brenner, former VP of Marketing and Content Strategy at SAP
Rather than push out half-baked content that’s merely trying to give the impression that you’re an authority in your field, you need to actually acquire the necessary knowledge and provide buyers with purposeful, practical advice. In doing so, you’ll build trust and develop a relationship that could eventually lead to a sale. This is what real thought leadership is about — knowing your topic extremely well and pushing out informed, creative content.
Do your homework
Do you know what pains your buyers? You better if you hope to make any sales. Buyers will be more likely to engage with you if they feel comfortable with you and see that you have spent the time to get to know the kind of problems they deal with on a daily basis, not that you are simply pushing them to buy your product.
Thought leaders are perceived as being entrenched in the pains that exist in the market, and that’s not something you can fake. You’ve got to spend an ample amount of time getting to know your buyer’s pain points, by speaking with end users, reading relevant content, and attending industry events.
Spend the time getting to know your buyers’ pain points and the content you produce will be more informed and more likely to make a positive impression on your buyers.
Think outside the box
Once you have familiarized yourself with your buyers’ pain points, it’s time to hit them with content that demonstrates your knowledge of said points. As mentioned above, it’s not as easy as spending millions of dollars (as if that were easy to begin with.) It comes down to creativity.
Your competitors are likely pumping out blog posts and e-books to establish thought leadership. The Internet is practically clogged with this kind of content. If you want to stand out in the sea of would-be thought leaders, you will have to go a step further with your content. What this looks like (or sounds like) depends on your brand and unique place in the market, but you can do it if you put in the time and effort.
What can you say that others have not said already? How can you solve a problem no one else has been able to solve? Again, you will be better prepared to create more original content if you are knowledgeable about the buyers’ pain points.
Be a presence
You know the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”? That certainly applies to brands trying to establish thought leadership on the web.
Once you have amassed a content arsenal, it’s time to get it out there. By strategically placing your content throughout the web — on popular content marketing blogs, YouTube, podcasts, social media, online magazines, etc. — you will start gaining more recognition.
The more buyers see your name, the more they will think “Hey, I see this brand’s name out there all the time. They seem to understand me.” Just make sure that your content is honest, smart and helpful. Visibility is important, so long as what iss being seen is top-notch stuff. Remember, quality over quantity.
Don’t Take Shortcuts with Your Content Marketing
Content marketing is not something you can “hack” or do in “just fifteen minutes a day!” It takes a concerted effort on your part and a willingness to really learn the pain points of your buyers. By becoming an actual thought leader, as opposed to one solely doing it just for the sale, you will create more meaningful content and, in turn, will be more likely to have a more comfortable, open conversation with your buyer.
This article was inspired by my Moneyball for Marketing podcast featuring Torsten George, VP of Worldwide Marketing and Products at Agiliance.
Originally published on Social Media B2B.
Image: Courtesy of Science of Us/NY Magazine
Glenn Gow is an expert in marketing performance, Coach, Board Advisor, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host and Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+. To get a free copy of Crimson’s One-Page Marketing Metrics Funnel, visit here.