Once you achieve thought leader status in your field, your personal brand immediately gains a credibility boost. Any company or project you are associated with then experiences a halo effect and you have the opportunity to build trust in your commercial brand or business. We have seen the incredible impact that thought leadership can have on the growth of personal and commercial brands. So, we thought we’d share some of our top tips on how to become a thought leader in your industry and leverage that status to grow.
Find your niche
We’ve seen the best results when our clients focus on a very specific topic or area within their field. For example, if you try to establish yourself as a marketing guru you are competing with an enormous group of people who may have all sorts of different marketing talents. Whereas, if you know you are especially skilled when it comes to B2B Marketing you can concentrate on sharing content which addresses this facet of marketing and straight away you will dramatically reduce the number of thought leadership competitors you’re dealing with.
Understand your audience
When establishing our clients as thought leaders in their industries, the first stage involves obtaining a deep understanding of the target audience. We build buyer profiles and personas which allow us to understand who we are targeting, what’s important to them and the stage they are at in the buying cycle. It’s also vital that you understand where they are consuming information about the topic you have chosen, in blogs, via social media, or at industry events? That way, you can identify the best platforms through which to share your insights, opinions, and ideas to ensure this information reaches the right audience.
Focus on your audience’s pain points
Once you have profiled your audience you should have a good hold on the pain points and challenges facing them. It is essential that you aren’t just telling people what you want them to hear but rather what they want to hear – the answers to their burning questions. If you do have expertise in the niche you’ve chosen you are likely to find you already have all the answers your audience is searching for.
Find that content sweet-spot
We work closely with businesses to understand what what your positioning is in the market and what differentiates you from your competitors. We can then find the overlap between what you know and what your prospects want to know. That sweet spot is the foundation for the content we then help you to create in the form of posts and long form articles.
Develop a content marketing plan
Before beginning to share content willy nilly online it’s important to have a clear plan in place. At Balmer Agency, we identify the types of content and channels that will work best as part of a killer content strategy to establish you as a thought leader in your space. Maintaining an active business blog (in most cases on your website) is almost always one of the key channels we recommend for B2B audiences. But another long form publishing tool which is proving to be vital to building thought leadership in many B2B verticals is LinkedIn’s own Pulse.
The most popular Pulse articles include information that showcases your expertise and perspectives on topics at the forefront of the industry while helping your audience to solve a key challenge they face or stay abreast of industry news. Our content marketing strategies are incorporated into wider marketing plans designed to establish your thought leadership status which can include other types of content channels such as podcasts and online publications, as well as offline activities such as industry events and print publications.
Engage with your audience on social media
Industry thought leaders are most often very active members of their professional community. While you make think of this in terms of attending trade shows and conferences, the same goes for the online world. Look for key groups and platforms on social media to join where you can have the opportunity to answer your audience’s questions. You will also find as your thought leadership status evolves that people will start to reach out to you or comment on your content. Make sure you respond to their comments on your articles, posts and updates and freely share tips and advice where possible.
Using your thought leader status to grow
Now that you know how to become a thought leader, what will you do with this competitive advantage? Those who truly benefit from becoming thought leaders are the ones who know what to do with that new-found trust and credibility once that relationship has been built. At Balmer Agency, we use a 2-pronged approach which involves first establishing thought leadership and then drawing on that status to help you acquire new business.
LinkedIn can be utilised as a highly effective B2B lead generation tool for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that when you reach out to cold leads on LinkedIn they are more open to listening to what you have to say then they would be if you contacted them via phone or email. Most decision makers get hundreds of emails for every InMail message they receive on LinkedIn.
But another thing that makes LinkedIn such a powerful lead generation tool is the ability it gives you to target the exact audience you wish to reach so that you aren’t talking to people that aren’t a close match to your ideal buyer. You can post targeted updates on your company page and make use of the incredible targeting available for LinkedIn Ads.
We believe in a data-driven approach to lead generation for B2B audiences. Firstly, we review your existing databases and lead lists in order to develop strategies to attract new leads that are similar to current or previous leads your business has already engaged with (as long as they reflect the profile of the prospects you wish to target).
Our team then develops a LinkedIn Marketing strategy for reaching your desired audience via the platform and leveraging your thought leadership status. This can involve targeting prospects using organic strategies such as participating in LinkedIn groups and paid LinkedIn Advertising such as Sponsored Inmail campaigns and sponsored content. Putting money behind your most valuable content (in terms of how much value it adds to your target audience) can ensure that your content assets reach a much wider audience than just your connections, or rather the right audience (your connections are most likely not the people you want to target).
Sponsored content is even more effective when used alongside LinkedIn’s Lead Gen Forms – forms that are attached to content so that audiences do not have to leave the platform in order to make an enquiry.
We’ve recently used this strategy for one of our clients in the property development sector, Far East Consortium (FEC), and achieved fantastic results. By pairing sponsored content with the use of Lead Gen Forms, we helped have achieved some incredible results for FEC:
- their social audience has grown by 74%
- website traffic increased by 183.15%
- we achieved an average of 92 enquiries per month within the first 2 months of the campaign
Find out more about this campaign in our FEC Case Study.
It’s not a set and forget
It is essential that you evaluate all your thought leadership and lead generation efforts regularly. Given the dynamic nature of the digital landscape, what worked today might not work tomorrow. We are always considering what worked and what didn’t work at regular intervals and keep optimising every aspect of our campaigns. This approach ensures that we are continuously learning and improving. We believe in investing not only in your own status as a thought leader, but also in those of your team. By building up the personal brands of the leadership team and communicating crucial brand messages through their online presence, you can increase the value of your business’ brand overall.
Are you striving to become an industry thought leader or need help with LinkedIn Marketing? Get in touch with our friendly team today to find out how we can help you attain thought leader status.