Thought Leadership and Marketing are two very important aspects to business that are often overlooked, unaccounted for, and completely ignored. No wonder 70% of all new businesses fail in the first year http://smallbiztrends.com/2008/04/startup-failure-rates.html.
Marketing is the activity of getting your business name out there. “Out there” has different definitions depending on who you ask. To your public, those persons or businesses that need your goods and services. How will these future buyers know about your business if there is no marketing plan in place?
Businesses need to have staff or an outsourced marketing person to help carry out the marketing plan. One of our clients is an extremely successful training company that cannot seem to designate a marketing person within their company. In fact, the CEO will not spend the annual investment for an on staff or outsources marketing person. As a result, a lot of face to face contact is necessary to close deals and a lot of opportunities are missed.
The day to day activities of marketing personnel includecreating Internet content, managing social media activity and developing strategies for inbound and outbound campaigns.
This content creation is where my perspective on Thought Leadership begins. Creating content is the capital ‘T’ most important activity for any business that has a marketing plan in place. If that content includes great website content, blog postings and audio and video podcasts, you have a much better chance of impressing your audience “out there” so they do business with your company.
Thought leadership is the strategies necessary to position your company as a leader in your industry. Do you know the answers to these questions?
- What does your business know that your competitors don’t know?
- How much more experience and customer reviews do you have than your competitors?
- What differentiates you for your competition?
- How long have you been in business?
- How do you communicate this information across all marketing platforms? Do you use media relations to leverage your expertise?
- Are you happy with your website?
Your company website is the first place to begin building your thought leadership. You are a thought leader when people look to you for answers they cannot find anywhere else.
Your company website is also your virtual storefront. I believe a website is never done. Rather, it is a work in process since nearly every industry has been through reinvention (including the Funeral Industry). Having the ability to easily change and modify your website today is more crucial to the survival of your marketing strategy and ultimately your business than anything else (except maybe for customer service and quality product).
So how do you position your thought leadership in your marketing efforts? Start with these three tips:
1. Make sure your website is 100% perfect to attract customers. Continuously post new content in the form of blog posts and audio and video podcasts. This 1) gives your visitors a reason to want to come to your website, 2 )gives your visitors a reason to do business with your company, and 3) gives Internet spiders a reason to crawl your website. Inbound marketing numbers exceed outbound marketing numbers in order of importance. Inbound marketing is the activity of people finding you rather than you finding them. I hate to oversimplify but the effort and money you put into outbound marketing like email marketing, ad words, advertising and direct mail will yield you much LESS business than a well organized and strategized “thought leadership” based outbound marketing campaign.
2. Work on Link building: get as many organic links to your website as possible. .ORG, .GOV and .EDU are the best link builders. .COM is valuable too. We are asked regularly for permission from organizations to link to our content and/or republish. In my humble opinion, nobody needs permission to link to articles and blog posts. Outside links are a good thing.
3. Drive traffic in social media communities and Internet marketing campaigns to purchasable content across all communication channels. When you give away advice, business will come back to you. I have been working with people coaching and consulting since the day we met. They call when they need help. These excellent clients know that we will deliver for them. Many were referred by other clients; others found us on the Internet. At least 20% of our business each year comes unsolicited from the Internet. That number may jump to 40% this year since we are experiencing rapid growth.
Marketing is how you can get your message out there and content creation is an important component of marketing. When creating content, focus on thought leadership to help you position your company as a leader in your industry. Making sure your website is perfect, working on link building, and driving traffic from various Internet channels to purchasable content are three ways to help you establish thought leadership. Our line is open for your feedback and questions.