Every marketer wants to move their brand up the ladder of consumer trust and loyalty. Although, they may not even be aware of what is happening behind the scenes. A secret weapon in setting a brand apart from your competition isn’t just about being put on a pedestal. Having an amazing product or customer service is important but there’s another way that can help your brand rise above the rest and it isn’t something new. Thought leadership is exactly what it sounds like; providing your customers with information that will make them think higher of your company just by learning new things about you.
By thought leadership, we mean earning the respect of your prospects and peers that you are a trusted resource on a topic. The reality is that most thought leaders don’t have a wide readership because most of the people in highly competitive areas don’t offer much value. It does not follow that they don’t have the knowledge to share, it simply means that they lack credibility and relevance with their target audience.
Ever heard of Jessica Nabongo? If you have, the first Black woman to travel to all of the countries in the world probably comes to mind. She has become a well-known (or ‘thought’) leader in the travel industry and teaches the wealth of travel. Nabongo is not alone in this though. Many brands are able to leverage thought leadership effectively by being experts in their industry and speaking up about subjects of interest. While this type of strategy isn’t going to result in leads from day one, it will establish trust with your audience and help you generate organic leads over time. Not certain? Here are three ways that you can use thought leadership to boost consumer trust.
1. Solve a big problem.
Consumers are tired of being marketed to. They have a problem, they go online to look and seek for a solution. The speed of this process is increasing. Consumers need solutions now, not in the future. No matter what industry you are in, if you are making money from selling products or services, the way to build brand popularity and achieve customer retention is to solve a big problem. Solve a problem that has been staring at everyone in the face for ages yet nobody’s fixing it until you step in. An effective way of doing this is to publish content that helps others. This is the most effective method for boosting your trustworthiness as an industry expert.
For example, a deli owner might not write a thought leadership piece about how people should be balancing their diet with healthy eating (again, way too salesy). The deli owner could create a recipe round-up post featuring some of the most popular and healthy recipes on their site. This provides readers with easy meal solutions for when they need to prepare something fast and healthy. If people begin to see you as a subject matter expert, they will be more likely to engage with your business. This also increases brand loyalty which is important if you want to find success online.
2. Educate instead of sell.
Ever wonder how thought leaders get their followers to trust them? You would be surprised to find out that they do not do it by selling to them. That’s right, a large part of gaining followers is by giving them quality content that informs and educates them. People want ideas. They want their beliefs expanded upon and their knowledge base broadened. And if they are sold in the process, that's fine too, but you have got to woo them first. You have got to earn their attention for your brand or company in order to sell them on your products or services. You do this by sharing expertise and valuable information that stimulates the mind and inspires action.
It’s critical not to mix sales and marketing with thought leadership. After all, it defeats the purpose of establishing yourself as a top thought leader in your niche. That’s why you must always remember to put out educational content first, and only promote or sell once people are already familiar with you as an expert. You can’t just sell to anyone who approaches you, after all, that defeats the whole purpose of being a thought leader. The last thing you want to do is promote or sell to someone that doesn't know anything about you or your brand/business.
3. Engage with your audience consistently.
When you are a thought leader, everyone is interested in the things you have to say. When you are an expert in your industry, you get to set the agenda for the topics that are important to people, rather than following anyone else’s agenda. But there is something else that is even more important when it comes to being a thought leader. Being a thought leader can help boost your business, but how can you be a true thought leader if people don’t listen to what you have to say? It all comes down to one thing: engagement. That’s why engagement is such a crucial piece of thought leadership.
For example, being active on social media is not about just tweeting a lot or posting on all the social networks. Social media is only as good as the relationships you build, and time is your most valuable resource. It takes time to find people who share your interests, learn what they like, and then reach out to them and share your knowledge. If you are not careful and don’t put in the effort, all of your social interactions will just be one way, with you putting out content and hoping for engagement. Instead, ask questions in your posts and share your thoughts with those who reply to you.
It’s important to raise your profile as an industry thought leader. There is a lot of data out there that points to the benefits of being a thought leader, but the most effective way to do this is by developing an expert persona and then establishing yourself as a trusted source in your field of expertise. With our tips above in mind, you can kick start and maintain thought leadership content for your brand—and boost consumer trust!