When you think of SEO and Google, Matt Cutts probably comes to mind. And when researching the future of Internet marketing, you’d likely read a post on Jeff Bullas’ blog.
Despite the overwhelming success and instant recognition of many prominent thought leaders, misconceptions about this buzzworthy term still hold many back from realizing its potential.
I regularly hear people say that they don’t have the ego for thought leadership or that they feel it creates an illusion of credibility — and they’re not completely misguided.
Racking up 20,000 Twitter followers doesn’t automatically declare you a thought leader, though many self-proclaimed “thought leaders” would beg to differ, and these are the examples overshadowing its potential.
Thought leadership isn’t about putting your personal needs first — the purpose is to educate your audience, question the status quo, and become a trusted source for information. And this valuable marketing ammo will fortify your business goals.
When you develop a specific strategy and implement it effectively, thought leadership can impact these six areas of your company:
- Sales: Consumers don’t want to be sold; they want to research products and services to make informed purchase decisions. If salespeople provide educational content to prospects that guides them through their questions and concerns, leads will filter in, and conversion rates will soar.
- Public relations: Brand awareness and positioning are paramount to a company’s success, but these can be difficult to manage through PR. By writing your own content, you control the conversation about you and your company and establish credibility through your published byline.
- Social presence: Sharing valuable information on social media is a great way to engage with your audience and maintain relationships. And using social mediums to promote your in-house content will educate your audience on your value proposition and facilitate trust.
- Recruitment: Publishing consistent content will quickly garner the attention of top talent in the industry. Not only will this expand your audience and reach, but showcasing your company’s credibility and forward-thinking mentality will also position your company as a desirable employer. It’s really that simple. Plus, you can use educational evergreen content to train new hires.
- SEO: Google rewards companies that produce consistent, valuable content with higher search rankings. And nearly every update — including Panda, Penguin, and more — has worked toward distinguishing high-value content.
- Branding: Thought leadership can shape and strengthen your personal brand and humanize your company in the eyes of your audience. Consumers want to do business with people, not companies, and personalizing your brand through thought leadership can help you accomplish that.
Thought leadership has a clear purpose for nearly every aspect of your company, which isn’t the case for most marketing strategies. Plus, it’s a differentiating factor that will work to your advantage long after most marketing fads fade.
To capitalize on these long-term benefits, follow these four simple steps:
- Define your business goals. If you don’t outline clear objectives — beyond appearing in marquee publications — you can’t measure your results. Before launching a thought leadership campaign, identify your purpose for each article as well as the overall strategy.
- Keep it authentic. Although hiring ghostwriters can save time, they don’t always have the unique industry experience and technical knowledge to captivate an audience. Your content should capture your voice and provide personal insights or experiences that make your brand more relatable.
- Establish a process for consistency. Producing an article or two won’t instantly land you speaking engagements, raise your search rank, or increase sales. Consistency in content is essential for staying top of mind with your audience and building a trusting, more meaningful relationship.
- Leverage content across departments. Make sure leaders from each department fully understand how to incorporate thought leadership content into their departments. You’ll likely see resistance if employees can’t identify a clear benefit behind these efforts.
Through repurposing thought leadership content to serve every department, I’ve experienced firsthand the power it has to push your company forward. New employees come well equipped with the industry knowledge and extra training they need to excel in their positions, which saves valuable time and resources. Employees across the board are more informed of industry news and engaged in the company’s success. And that alone validates its ROI.
To learn more about the advantages thought leadership can offer your company, RSVP for the SUMtech webinar, “How Thought Leadership and Content Influence Growth.”
This article was originally published on Forbes.