Clients and prospective clients often ask us about thought leadership. Most of the time it’s because they know they should be implementing it, but are overwhelmed by the idea and unsure about how or where to start. Fortunately, an impactful thought leadership program doesn’t have to be overwhelming – and, when done well, can be an essential component of your marketing plan.
If you have at least one sharp company leader with a firm pulse on your company and industry, you’re in a strong position for influencing through thought leadership. We can help guide you toward that outcome with answers to the three most common thought leadership questions we get:
1. How much time does thought leadership take? This is undoubtedly the most common question we get. And rightfully so! When people hear the phrase “thought leadership,” it often evokes scenes of spending countless hours writing, speaking and becoming almost fanatical about a particular topic you are passionate about. While some people may choose this route to build their influence, it doesn’t have to be that way. An impactful thought leadership program can be implemented in a variety of ways to make it easy on your subject matter expert (SME) and claim a minimal amount of time in their busy schedule. Often, this starts with taking a close look at existing content from the SME, or from the organization they represent, and identifying ways to amplify its message and reach by repurposing it across multiple platforms – earned, owned, social and paid. It is a tremendous way to be efficient while aligning with an overarching strategy. It’s a great way to jumpstart a thought leadership program without spending enormous amounts of time reinventing the wheel.
The key, of course, to any thought leadership program is to be consistent and to keep nurturing platforms with new content, perspectives and ideas – which means there will come a time when new content is needed. This, too, can be done easily and efficiently. One common approach is to work side-by-side with an agency like Bellmont Partners that can help plan and craft that content for you. Our team can interview SMEs and draft content on their behalf; reducing the amount of time your organization and SMEs need to spend on it. This process works for generating bylined articles and blog posts or speeches and presentation scripts. We often talk to SMEs when they’re driving from one meeting to the other – or even on their way to yoga or their kid’s soccer game!
2. How do we know if we’re reaching our audiences? Depending on what type of thought leadership content you’re generating, there are some clear ways you can measure its reach and impact. Audience circulation numbers for a bylined article, amount of engagement or comments on a LinkedIn post, or monitoring Google Analytics for traffic to your website are just a few. But these are not the only metrics you should take into consideration when it comes to evaluating the success of a thought leadership program.
Thought leadership campaigns also often lead to qualitative results. From a LinkedIn contact reaching out to reconnect over coffee to a client or partner mentioning that they read your latest byliner during a call, thought leadership campaigns not only help bring in new business but also solidify and help grow existing relationships – and recruit talent in a competitive marketplace. If you’re curious about ROI specifically for LinkedIn, take a look at this recent Bellmont Partners blog post.
3. How will this help me reach my goals? Like with any marketing strategy, it’s important to think about why thought leadership is beneficial and understand how it fits into the greater ecosystem of existing marketing efforts and goals. Creating one really strong blog or LinkedIn post likely won’t instantly drive sales or recruit new partners; rather, it’s one tactic to educate the market and build recognition in a fairly non-promotional way.
Thought leadership shouldn’t just be considered an “ad” for your company – it should be an authentic, recurring reflection of your values, differentiators and benefits. A thought leadership program should showcase the expertise of the people behind your brand, provide educated commentary about your company or industry, and share your insights about industry challenges beyond your own company. This means thinking about what a reader or listener could learn from you that they can apply to their own business. Often, clients get stuck wanting to promote what their company does, which is good in moderation, but sharing fresh perspectives about industry trends and challenges ensures your content is relevant to a wider external audience – and it keeps them coming back.
All those questions are specific ways to ask “Is thought leadership worth it?” We absolutely think it is. Your company thrives because of the smart, talented people steering it, so it only makes sense to capture their perspectives and channel it into content that generates trust, loyalty and credibility to help your business flourish.