In today's hyper-competitive marketplace, companies are aggressively trying to stand out above the noise. Establishing credibility as an industry leader is less about issuing press releases that announce recent hires or certifications and more about offering an authoritative perspective on important topics in your marketplace. The process of building that authority is sometimes called “thought-leadership marketing."
What Is Thought-Leadership Marketing?
When people talk about thought leaders, they're really referring to high-visibility experts—professionals who drive industry conversations. When you're a trusted and respected authority on issues that affect folks in your industry, it can help you build your visibility and acquire new business.
Of course, you can't expect to become an authority overnight. But with dedicated effort, you can utilize a strategy to achieve results. Here are five reasons you might consider focusing your marketing strategy on cultivating the visibility of your experts.
1. Expert content can boost business development.
Experts stand out in the marketplace—and that can mean more business. Research from Hinge, published in 2014, which included 130 industry leaders and over 1,028 buyers of their services, found that 66 percent of firms with in-house industry leaders—the folks we call Visible Experts—see accelerated growth and development.
According to the survey, impacts can range from generalized growth and increased leads to a heightened ability to close deals. To put it simply, high visibility experts have the ability to get a firm “on the map."
2. Thought leadership often adds trust and credibility.
Thought-leadership marketing can make your content highly visible to the public. Regardless of whether your experts are publishing on your blog, in other publications or elsewhere, their association with your firm could make you more visible to decision makers. The depth of content required to build your profile as a high-visibility expert means that potential buyers have the opportunity to learn a lot about your firm before making initial contact.
—Liz Harr, partner, Hinge
This level of visibility and expertise has the potential to increase the trust and credibility of your firm. Think of it this way—there's a reason that popular brands at a grocery store sell better than store brands, despite typically coming with a higher price tag. People trust what they know.
3. Thought leadership can also provide greater access to new opportunities.
As a trusted industry leader, you might find yourself with a steady stream of opportunities to showcase your expertise in the marketplace. Increased visibility creates a positive feedback loop for industry experts. Once you've established yourself as credible, you're more likely to see opportunities for speaking engagements, conference appearances and invitations to networking events. Each new opportunity allows you to advance your reputation in your industry.
4. Content can bring a halo effect.
The “halo effect" can provide big benefits to your firm's brand. As your star rises, you raise more than your own profile; you also can improve the reputations of the organizations with which you're affiliated. Experts tend to lend their glow to their firms as a whole.
In this sense, cultivating high-visibility experts can be a way to impress potential new clients before even mentioning your products or services. Even if all they know about your firm is that an industry leader endorses it, you can already have an advantage in gaining their trust and—eventually—their business.
5. Ultimately, thought leadership can help increase revenue.
Practicing thought-leadership marketing may not just increase the perceived value of your firm's brand and services—it can also increase your revenue. Experts can command higher rates, for speaking, consulting and the like. How much higher?
According to our survey, professional-service buyers are willing to pay more than 13 times more for a leading nationally or globally known Visible Expert than for a regular professional. Even a professional who is a known expert only among clients, staff and colleagues commands more than double the fee of the average professional. Over time, the cumulative benefits of these raised rates can help drive faster growth and help generate significantly more revenue for your firm.
Where Do We Start?
With all the potential benefits thought-leadership marketing could have for your business, you might wonder why each and every firm out there isn't rushing to acquire or develop experts. Unfortunately, these folks don't grow on trees.
The good news is that there are tools and techniques to help raise your profile as an expert. Thought-leadership marketing can make it easier than ever to share your expertise with the world, creating powerful opportunities for rising leaders who are ready to step up to the plate.