Thought Leadership 101: Establishing Credibility
When the average person is exposed to an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 messages each day, how can you differentiate your company or brand? How can you turn your content into recognition from awards programs or qualified leads that become sales and conversions? In the vast marketplace of ideas, thought leadership is the key to standing out in the crowd, producing these measurable results, and more.
Whether produced by your organization or a third party, thought leadership can be any piece of content that positions your company or brand as an expert in a given field. Topics can vary from broad overviews to hyper-specific topics within a specific field of expertise. Over time, a solid portfolio of thought leadership content can help you achieve a position of authority in your industry. Establishing expertise is the ultimate goal, but if you ultimately want your efforts to have a positive impact on your bottom line, you should consider a structured approach to transition thought leadership into real credibility with clients.
Content vs. Thought Leadership
While internal content like blog posts, white papers, video spots, or pages on your website may be useful, customers may process this information with a grain of salt. Your brand’s credibility is enhanced when thought leadership content originates from or is endorsed by an unbiased third party. This applies to “best in show” categories as well as smaller sub-sets of your industry knowledge.
Establish Credibilty to Become a Thought Leader
Third-party endorsements are one of the best ways to build brand credibility and ultimately be seen as a thought leader in your field. But how do you reach out to those ideal third parties to establish relationships and begin building credibility?
1. Identify your targets
In most industries, the number of publications and award programs can be vast. Deciding who to reach out to and which awards you’d like to apply for can be overwhelming. A good rule of thumb is to discover where your target audience is consuming content. If you’re a clothing retailer, identify a few style publications and awards. If you’re a sporting goods brand, identify coaching and equipment publications your customers are reading.
2. Identify your internal experts
With thought leadership, one voice speaking loudly is more effective than several speaking softly. With this in mind, identify a few (no more than three) people in your company who can offer experience and expertise for both internal content and external publications. Doing this prep work simplifies both your internal process for content creation and the process of reaching out to industry media and writers.
Bonus Tip: If you can, build a stockpile of quotes, photos and blurbs about evergreen topics in your industry. This can aid internal content creation, but also serves a purpose for thought leadership. If journalists or industry publications reach out asking for information or quotes on a topic, having material ready to go means you can respond to these requests quickly. This increases your chances of being published and builds your reputation for being helpful.
3. Reach out!
Outreach is the most vital step to having your expert’s quotes and articles circulated in your target publications. This means building relationships with people who write for these publications, sending them your thoughts on trending topics and following up. This is inarguably the most time-consuming part of the thought leadership process. However, it is also the key to transitioning from content creation to a thought leadership program that establishes credibility with your customers.
Be patient as you begin this process. Remember, there is no obligation for journalists to publish quotes or think pieces by your experts. Once you develop rapport and relationships with writers in your industry, the outreach process will become easier, smoother and more efficient.
Building a thorough thought leadership program can have striking results on your company or brand’s reputation and bottom line. If this seems like a daunting process, reach out to the Brandware team for a free consultation and to learn more about our thought leadership and earned media capabilities.