When it comes to content, many marketing and business executives are looking for a quick win, often to quickly generate more visitors to the website or additional leads for the sales team. The end goal is more about the speed of delivery and less about the message or actual value they are delivering in the market. As a result, marketing executives may get a nibble here or there, but they never really engage the audience in a meaningful and lasting way throughout the customer experience. To be effective over the long term, content must connect to a thought leadership strategy that serves a higher purpose.
When intentionally designed and delivered, thought leadership can positively impact business performance. But, it has to have a purpose beyond engagement and conversion. According to Thought Leaders International, “Thought Leadership is establishing a relationship with and delivering something of value to your stakeholders and customers that aligns with your brand / company value. In the process you go well beyond merely selling a product or service and establish your brand / company as the expert in that field and differentiate yourself from your competitors.”
To be a thought leader, you can’t be weak and you can’t waffle. You have to know precisely what you want to be known for. You have to commit to the thought leadership positions you want to own in the minds of your customers. Then you need to earn those positions consistently throughout the customer experience.
Thought leadership requires a long-term strategy, anchored by a commitment from the entire executive team to put themselves and other subject matter experts out there. Where is out there? It’s a place most companies won’t go, because it takes guts and an unwavering commitment to get there. It requires you to draw a line in the sand and take a position on topics and issues that your target audience cares about and then have the fearlessness to put these thoughts and opinions into the marketplace for the world to judge. Maybe that’s why respected authors Craig Badings and Liz Alexander once said, “Thought leaders are brave; explore areas others don’t, raise questions others won’t, and provide insights others can’t.”
True thought leadership is about change. Changing how your target audience thinks about or views their world. And, changing how they approach problems and challenges differently because of the insights you deliver. Do you have what it takes to be a thought leader? There is one metric that will help you answer that question, and that is the degree to which your executive team is committed to locking down specific thought leadership positions that your company wants to own in the minds of your customers. It all starts here.