Thought leadership is an understated element in any sales or marketing process. Customers tend to buy from businesses whose sales executives demonstrate authority in the industry they operate in. Expertise in your industry establishes customer trust which is an important precursor to a successful conversion.
Unfortunately, a lot of conventional strategies to demonstrate authority are no longer effective. A 2016 study found that nearly a quarter of all online ads are blocked by consumers. Also, present day FTC guidelines strictly regulate advertorials and paid testimonials – strategies that have helped a lot of businesses establish industry authority in the past.
One of the most effective strategies today is content. Studies show that content marketing is nearly three times as effective as outbound marketing while costing 62% less. But this is only one of the many ways to use content as a business. In this article, we will look into the use of content as a means to build a team of thought leaders.
Why thought leadership helps
A thought leader is someone who leads the charge when it comes to ideating about the future of an industry. In other words, these are the go-to experts that others in an industry look up to for advice. Thought leaders have an established personal brand and having one on your payroll is immensely helpful in establishing your company’s authority in the space as well.
Hiring a thought leader in your industry can however be expensive. In fact, a lot of established thought leaders may run their own businesses you compete with. You may be better off training your existing employees to be thought leaders in your industry.
Content in thought leadership
One of the most recognizable traits of a thought leader is their absolute understanding of the industry they operate in, along with a knowledge of all the latest developments in the space. A thorough understanding of the industry helps thought leaders form independent opinions which provides them with all the ammunition required to tackle customer queries and concerns in a sales meeting.
An organization’s role in this case is to provide their employees with all the necessary resources for them to build domain expertise and form independent opinions. This can be made possible through a collaborative content dissemination strategy.
Tools like Smarp can help businesses organize content dissemination. Using this, employees can share relevant industry and business related content to all their coworkers. This helps employees, especially those in sales and marketing, to stay abreast of the latest industry developments. In addition to this, workers may also share their views on these developments on social networks to establish thought leadership.
Building thought leaders is a long process. Authority-targeted content marketing strategies as this can help your workers build a following among prospective clients which helps in building a sales pipeline.
For successful conversion, thought leadership needs to be integrated with employee advocacy. Employees who have built a personal brand for themselves through thought leadership have a greater chance of converting customers than marketers without a personal brand. It is vital to train your salesmen and marketers to routinely promote your business to their followers. Prospective customers trust thought leaders and advocacy through these employees could help your organization build trust and credibility.
This advocacy may be done with the help of content marketing. Websites like LinkedIn provide your employees with the platform required to share thoughts and industry related ideas to followers. Tools like Smarp that we noted earlier can help businesses coordinate employee advocacy campaigns and help prospective customers learn about your business through thought leaders and influencers.
Does your organization have a thought leadership program in place for your employees? Share your experiences in the comments below.