Creating industry thought leadership – How to cut through the noise?
What do we mean by the term thought leadership? Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and trusted sources who share opinion and ideas. In the context of corporate communications, thought leadership typically derives from individuals or organisations that have acquired expertise in key business or industry challenges and are willing to share their insights.
Recent studies have found that up to 70% of decision-makers decide if an organisation can deliver based on their thought leadership, and 75% said it leads directly to signing on the dotted line.
So where do you start? Define your audience. Have a clear idea of who are you looking to address. Then look at the challenges that this audience is facing and where you can offer insight. Data and analytics can help you to better understand who your target audience is, their characteristics, what’s on their mind and the topics that will best resonate with them.
For example, customers in the B2B space may typically be driven by broader macro issues around digital transformation, fuelling sustainable growth, making better work decisions through data insights or the personalisation of products/services to meet customer needs – and the list goes on. Your opinions will likely be formed from a combination of personal and audience based experiences, as well as by what’s happening in the outside world.
Maximising the tools at your disposable
There are several ways an individual or company can strategically boost their thought leadership presence. This may include a combination of written bylines in targeted media outlets, blogs/vlogs, podcasts, media commentary or keynotes/expert panel opportunities at conferences. Whatever route you decide, creating content that speaks in your voice is key.
In addition, social media is an essential and effective way to bring thought-leadership to life, while also enabling you to reach and engage your target audience. When disseminating thought leadership content through social media, it is critical to be audience-centric in your approach, considering what value it will bring to the audience and how you’d like them to engage with it – this will enable you to effectively position it and develop a targeted plan.
Networking in your industry will also broaden your reach. So, think about interest groups you can join on LinkedIn and associations outside your own company.
And finally, it is important to carefully consider what value you can bring to the audience one is trying to influence and the action you would like them to take. This will enable you to effectively tailor, personalise and craft an engaging story around your content. Also, think about the industry events and social media channels your target audience is present and actively engaging on, and how you can meet them in their own environment.
Cut through the noise
There’s a lot of noise on the internet so it is critical to think about how your content will cut through. Explore creative tactics and assets that complement your story, for example videos, animations or infographics, coupled with smart and engaging copy, are effective ways to hook the audience’s attention. You will also need to strike a balance between targeting a topical area and making sure you have an interesting and differentiated view.
Thought leadership content is a powerful educational tool too. The world of business and technology is moving forward so fast that it can be difficult to keep up with the latest thinking.
Conversations in the right forums will spark a conversation. Engage your target audiences and in the best case scenarios, to help forge connections. Accurate information executed in smart and tactical ways and on a consistent basis also earns you – or your business credibility. So put your pen to paper or the keyboard and give it a whirl.
|The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.
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