To win their audience over, a business owner has to prove that they know what they are talking about or, even better, have the vision and forethought to provide something new on a particular topic. The audience that gets access to that new information may feel like they have something no competitor has ever offered them, which can make that business owner more valuable in their eyes and worthy of their business. That's what thought leadership can do as a brand-building strategy for everyone from freelancers and founders to established small-business owners. The inherent value of the insights a business owner shares can translate into brand equity, where an audience applies that value to the product or service that business owner represents.
Blogging can be an excellent way to demonstrate thought leadership on a particular topic or industry that, in return, helps shape and instill your brand's audience. But it's just one brick in the wall related to establishing your thought leadership. Here are five other ways you could consider building your platform in conjunction with blogging.
1. White Papers and E-Books
Previously used strictly for software companies and more technical industries, the white paper is becoming an integral way to illustrate thought leadership in a particular area or business segment.
Using a combination of content, research and statistics, you can demonstrate to your audience that you have done your homework. You can also create surveys and use data to generate new insights into issues that are impacting them in some way.
With my business, it could be findings related to cash flow, late payments, payment security, compliance issues, etc. My recommendation is to study what issues concern your target audience and then generate research and findings that show how you understand their problems. You are showcasing that you and your brand have the knowledge and leadership needed to provide potential solutions for them without even having to sell to them through these documents.
2. Syndicated Article Distribution
By publishing articles on multiple platforms, you can leverage these syndicated article sites to spread your thought leadership across a much larger audience than the reach of your current blog.
Consider taking the time to develop valuable content that is likely to resonate with your audience and follow the guidelines of each site. There are sites where you may have to pay to publish, but it’s a great idea to start out with the freebies and see how far you get. I’ve been able to get thousands of views and shares using this tactic, helping to build my thought leadership.
3. Video Marketing
A new area I’m currently exploring is leveraging video apps and platforms that are growing in popularity, including Periscope and Facebook Live. These help me share more of my personality than what I can get across in a written blog post.
Seeing and interacting with customers can help you get closer to your audience and bolster that trust factor. By using video marketing, I've been able to get a better understanding of my audience and address their questions and comments in real time.
4. Panel Participation
In 2016, I participated in more panels at conferences than I ever have before, which quickly ramped up more global interest in my thought leadership, company and personal brands.
Try to illustrate the value you can add to a panel to help get more of your speaker proposals accepted. For me, these panels align my brand with that of other recognizable brand leaders, enhancing my credibility. I can share my insights in a real-time way as well as gain numerous benefits through participating, including networking and generating new leads.
5. Case Studies
In this age of storytelling as a key marketing tactic, case studies have become an excellent thought-leadership tool. For my business, these case studies are focused on specific customers who are willing to share stories about the problems they had and how my company helped them solve them. Having customer testimonials gives your audience other voices that can testify to your brand’s ability to lead them past certain business challenges. A potential customer may read the case study and relate to the scenario outlined, which can help further the engagement process.
Case studies can either be content or video-based. Either way, they can be created fairly easily and affordably, and then shared across multiple channels, including social media, your website, blog, newsletters and more.
While each tactic can be beneficial for building thought leadership, I recommend starting with one and adding others as you gain traction. It’s too much to take on all of these at once, and it may be good to have access to resources and talent who can help you develop the necessary content for all these thought leadership tactics.
John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Due, a free payments company specializing in helping businesses bill their clients easily online. He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).
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