Thought leadership is what separates us from the pack. It’s what allows us to position ourselves, our companies, and our teams as the be-all-end-all experts on anything and everything specific to our industry.
Regardless of whether or not you call it thought leadership if you’re the subject matter expert and you’re providing education within your industry -- being the best that you can be in your space -- you’re a thought leader. Is your website the Wikipedia for your industry? It could be.
Remember, it’s all about them. All too often, companies get this wrong. The content on your website and on your social media should not look like it was created by some delusional egomaniac hanging out in the late 1990s. What we mean here is a website that talks only about your company and how wonderful you are, how wonderful your employees are, all of the awards you’ve won, the size of your building, and all of your industry certifications.
At the end of the day, your clients don’t care about any of that. How do we know that? We ask them.
The Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey today is very different than it was as recently as five or ten years ago. The introduction of the original iPhone back in 2007 was a complete game changer. We are now totally and completely addicted to our mobile devices.
Our smartphones are the first thing we look at in the morning when we get up and the last thing we look at before we go to sleep. Do you want to see whether or not you’d have withdrawal? What would happen if your phone was lost, stolen, or broken, and you had to be without it for a few days?
And this is why the buyer’s journey has completely changed. People are asking questions like crazy about things that are driving them nuts. They’re asking questions on their phones about their goals, plans, challenges, and problems they’re trying to solve.
Answering Early-Stage Questions
It’s absolutely critical for your company to be found when they’re searching for those answers -- and be perceived as a thought leader. When your primary and secondary buyer personas (the two most important economic buyers for your company) go to search engines and social media and ask early-stage questions about the kinds of problems your company solves, it’s absolutely critical that they find your advice, resources, educational content, and thought leadership.
But just finding it is not enough. You need to get them on your website where they say, “Wow, this is really good. I’ve been looking for something like this for hours, days, and weeks. I can’t believe I finally found this stuff. It’s awesome. What else do they have to say?” You’re looking for that deep visceral reaction when they see your thought leadership. Then they start to become receptive to seeing if you have a book that goes into more detail, if there’s an upcoming breakfast seminar or lunch-and-learn, or if there’s a downloadable guide. They’re so impressed they say, “Yeah, I'll give them my business card for that information”.
Thought leadership is not about what you think makes you wonderful, it's all about them. It's all about answering their questions, advising them on their problems, and impressing the heck out of them that when they land on your digital presence, they have found Nirvana.
If you mess this up, they land on your website and hit the back button a couple of seconds later. That sends a bad message to Google that your content is not very good or relevant and you're not worthy of getting those precious organic clicks on your website.
The Bottom Line
Thought leaders spend a lot of time obsessing about their buyer personas, what motivates them, what drives them, and what kind of behavior they exhibit. Thought leaders want to know how they can be more relevant to their buyer persona’s questions and problems, helping them with their goals as early as possible in the buyer's journey.
If you want to be a true thought leader, spend much time learning more about your buyer personas.
How do you define thought leadership for your business? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
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