Convert Thought Leadership into an Uninterrupted Flow of Leads
“If you build, they will come” – a deadly myth that spelled doom for thousands of businesses relying solely on the tech that never caught the eye of a broader public. To stand a chance in the ever-competitive digital landscape, you must tell them about you or – even better – become a thought leader in your niche.
It’s no secret that almost every business dreams of commanding its niche. And why not? Thought leadership is a bulletproof solution for lead generation – market leaders skim off times more profits than the rest – and a ticket to long-term sustainability.
Naturally, establishing thought leadership is challenging – there can only be so many leaders in a limited market – with the complexity growing proportionally to the size of the niche. For small businesses, dethroning market goliaths is out of the question, but you can become a big fish in a small pond, which is also a worthy goal – and financially justified, no less.
So, how exactly do you establish thought leadership and convert it into paying customers?
Without any further ado, let’s dig into it.
What Is Thought Leadership?
The concept of thought leadership is quite elusive, even though we have plenty of examples everyone would easily agree on. Take, for example, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Elon Musk. They have all revolutionized their industries with brilliant ideas and execution, serving as global thought leaders, even in unrelated niches.
There are more controversial examples of thought leadership. I’m walking on thin ice right now, but I can’t help myself: Greta Thunberg. Youth, aggressive style, and unwavering stance on combating climate change have made her one of the most famous eco-activists ever. With all the controversy surrounding Greta Thunberg, it’s impossible to argue that she’s a thought leader of incredible influence.
Here’s what thought leadership really takes, in a nutshell:
|Unique perspectives on usual things and additional value are important for anyone who wants to exude leadership qualities. As a thought leader, you shape your niche by innovating and setting trends.
|From social media to public speaking, thought leaders leverage all popular platforms while doubling down on those resonating with their target audience. Omnichannel marketing is crucial here.
|Trust and Integrity
|Expertise doesn’t breed trust automatically – thought leaders win it over time with consistency, ethics, and transparency about what they do.
You don’t necessarily have to be famous or have a strong personal brand to become a thought leader. You can choose a smaller market and take it from there.
Thought Leadership Lead Generation: 5 Key Strategies To Harness
1. Create a Superior Value Proposition
Every thought leadership strategy should have a solid basis: a unique value proposition that clearly shows why you are better than anyone in your segment. To flaunt your UVP, you must be confident in your core offering in the first place; otherwise, not only will you struggle to generate leads, but you will also have a hard time motivating your employees.
Creating a striking selling proposition requires three key things:
- Understanding your customers
- Understanding your product
- Willingness to sacrifice a portion of profits
Sacrifice is especially important. Most companies – and this is a truth to realize – don’t create new products but improve existing solutions by combining several features in one product, reducing prices, or adding perks & freebies for new and loyal customers. And it does work, but here’s an important thing to realize: you can’t eat your cake and have it too; either you create a revolutionary product or sacrifice some profits to make your offer attractive.
2. Hit the Right Customers With the Right Message at the Right Time
With a unique selling proposition at the forefront of your campaigns and your target buyer’s persona in mind, you can turn your earned media into a reliable source of leads and even tap into offline marketing to get the best of both worlds.
Here are the five promotional tools to establish strong thought leadership:
- Email marketing
- SEO: Global and local
- Social media
- Partnership & influencer marketing
- Local events
Let’s review each of them in detail.
Email marketing provides countless ways to establish thought leadership. You can include in emails anything you find valuable at this very time for this very recipient – which also means you should segment your email subscribers in the first place.
From research papers to case studies to success stories to interactive content – the sky’s the limit when it comes to email marketing as long as the target audience and timing are right.
And if you want to go the extra mile with email marketing, you can impress your subscribers with AMP emails. The AMP technology allows customers to see real-time data in the email – for example, you can check the available seats on a plane – and make purchases on the spot without going to the company’s website.
Global and Local SEO
The general idea about SEO-optimized thought leadership content is that you should capitalize on high-volume and low-competitive keywords. Tools like Ahrefs and Google Search Console will help you identify these keywords, and then it’s all about your content creation skills.
When creating SEO-optimized content, include your target keywords in the content’s title, description, headers, and the copy itself while sticking to the optimal keyword density (you can discover it empirically by analyzing top articles).
Traditionally, the best social media platforms for thought leaders are:
|B2B thought leadership content for the most professional audience
|Any type of video content for the widest audience
|Content around trending topics, news, events, and updates
To target even more educated and niche leads, you can tap into platforms like Quora, Reddit, and Medium. However, get ready that these three can be unforgiving – superficial content won’t cut it, as users there are extremely meticulous and knowledgeable.
Instagram and TikTok are not considered the best choices for establishing thought leadership because the content there is usually short-lived. On the other hand, there’s always a chance it goes viral, bringing you a jackpot of leads.
Here are a couple of social media content examples around thought leadership from TikTok:
Partnership & Influencer Marketing
To become a thought leader, you must collaborate with thought leaders. As simple as that. And it does snowball – the more you engage with prominent companies, the more trustful you look in the eyes of the general public and other potential partners.
Another avenue to this is influencer marketing. The global influencer market size has grown more than tenfold over the last decade, with millions of brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram alone. Having researched your ideal buyer, you can choose micro or nano-influencers to hit your customers effectively while not overspending.
The pandemic hit offline marketing hard, but it doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in an online basket either. Personal connection – even the highlights of offline events – is extremely potent in establishing thought leadership.
You’re really killing two birds with one stone here. Local workshops, seminars, and master classes are an excellent sales channel per se, but they also connect the online and offline worlds, ensuring customers that you’re not some ephemeral digital entity but a solid business.
3. Take Thought Leadership Lead Generation to the Next Level with Software
“Thought leadership is by nature evolutionary, in that it must always be part of an ever-evolving flow”– Pearl Zhu, a digital leader and the author of “Digital Master” book series.
No one executes marketing strategies manually; those days are far behind, with lead management software having long replaced a major part of the routine.
Here’s what an advanced lead management ecosystem can do for you:
|Auto-tracking your leads from the get-go until conversion means understanding them better and, as a result, improving the customer journey. Demographics, psychographics, and insights alike will help you find an individual approach to every customer group.
|Sending leads to the right sales or customer support operator based on the collected customer data and real-time interactions will boost customer satisfaction rates and maximize agent performance.
|Regardless of whether a particular customer converted or bounced, post-journey analytics will help you identify what could be done better if anything. You will discover complex user interaction patterns you had no idea about.
|Predictive modeling software will allow you to run countless simulations of thought leadership campaigns without investing a dime before you know which ones will likely play out.
For the customer, lead management software is quite easy to manage. Many solutions are autonomous, so you only have to set up the system once with the help of your software provider.
For now, I’ve covered everything I’d like to say about thought leadership.
The farewell would be: think of business as a game of chess. No matter how good you are over the marketing board, the combination of software and human intelligence is always better.
How Do You Use Thought Leadership in Your Marketing?
If you have ideas about thought leadership in marketing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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