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Practical Steps to Execute a Thought Leadership Program for Digital Innovation
24 March, 2021
Thought leadership is a powerful and practical tool in the areas of public relations, marketing, and sales. In the technology industry, thought leadership possesses even greater potential. Here are some practical ways to implement and execute a thought leadership program in the digital industry.
Thought leadership is a marketing strategy that focuses less on sales content and centers more on content that establishes you as an expert in your field. As a marketing strategy, it is the art of positioning yourself and your company as a leader in your field (in this case, digital transformation) through best-in-class content.
A thought leader in the digital transformation field develops a reputation for helping others by providing knowledge and insight about improving companies and their workflows through well-designed and implemented digital technologies. Thought leaders are trailblazers, advocates, and, most importantly, trusted sources of information for their audiences.
By releasing articles, videos, research, or any other form of original content on a regular basis, potential clients and those interested in digital transformation will begin associating your company with insight and authority in the field.
This means that when the time comes for them to hire an expert in digital transformation, you will be at the top of the list.
Ultimately, thought leadership is about building a brand with your ideas, and that requires a strategy.
Employ your content across various platforms - publicity, events, social media, and branded publications and/or websites. Develop a substantial supply of thought leadership content that your company can quickly turn to as a resource if any last-minute need for content arises. Your thought leadership content in the area of digital transformation should include everything from evaluations of the latest technologies to case studies of successful implementations.
It is imperative to know your target audience and understand what it is they would like to know about your field of expertise. You don’t just want to be seen as a thought leader by peers within the IT space. Your potential customers need to see you as a leader in the field as well.
The ultimate goal in thought leadership is to answer the questions of your target audience(s). Determine how your company’s perspective on the development, deployment, and management of digital transformation technologies will stand out in comparison to the information and resources that are already available to your audience. Your company’s program needs to have a distinct purpose so that your content will be seen as cutting-edge information in the field - not mere advertising.
What will be the best methods for reaching your prospective customers and/or peers? Can you guarantee you will have their full attention with a lengthy manuscript? Will your company focus its attention on the Twitter and Facebook world and comply with the length restrictions of social media? Will blog posts and articles be appropriate for your current clients, peers, and potential customers? Maybe you will target different audience segments on different platforms? Perhaps your audiences may be more receptive to brief videos or even live feeds? These are questions you will need to ask yourself as you endeavor to communicate with your customers, peers, and potential clients.
A successful thought leadership program cannot be achieved alone. Aligning yourself with other experts provides you with credibility by association. Consider reaching out to and networking/collaborating with other thought leaders involved in writing about digital transformation who already have an established sphere of influence and loyal following. Study their content closely and see what strategies have worked for them -- and perhaps which have not. These are people from whom you can learn, and these are valuable and vital connections for you to make. Building relationships with other thought leaders enhances your reputation by association.
While it can be rather difficult to measure the business impact of thought leadership initiatives, it is vital for you to evaluate your sphere of influence and your impact as a thought leader.
Has your thought leadership strategy helped you to establish a reputation as an authority in your field of expertise?
Has it has helped you to build new relationships?
Has it enabled you to improve the overall revenue contributed to their company?
Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
A positive brand reputation helps improve a customer’s loyalty, builds your clients’ confidence in your brand, and helps further position you as a leading expert in digital transformation. Here are a few ways to measure your reputation as a thought leader:
Effective thought leadership revolves around building trust and building relationships. It is the relationship between you as a thought leader and your audience that contributes value to your customers. Measuring your sphere of influence in the relationships that you have built as a thought leader can be seen in the referrals your company has received. Developing these types of relationships requires that both you and your organization be contextually relevant, receptive, and caring about your audience.
It is important for you to frequently evaluate your RFP (Request for Proposal) invitations generated, business awarded, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities. Nearly 42% of business decision-makers have made mention of thought leadership content having had an influence upon their decision when generating RFP invitations.
Thought leadership requires that you earn both trust and credibility over time. It is not a get-leads-fast marketing strategy. For your thought leadership program to work, you need not only to create excellent content, but you must also get your voice out there and prove that you have ideas and guidance that you can provide within the digital transformation space.
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