In a recent post by HubSpot about “What the Future Holds for Business Blogging”, Pamela Vaughan threw out some pretty heavy stats from the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing report.
Aside from noting that 18% of marketers are making quality content their top priority this year, she also highlights that 62% of marketers will blog in 2013. 62%!
What every business should know – but that many either haven’t accepted yet or don’t want to accept – is that providing quality content involves, on some level, thought leadership.
What is “Thought Leadership”?
Thought leadership is a powerful thing that can be easily integrated into your blogging strategy, and if it isn’t already on your content marketing agenda this year, then you should add it.
Well, lots of people might think it’s kind of “business-y” of me to use that sort of language, but having just jumped ship and joined the entrepreneurial force, I’ll stick with it only for the purpose of now being able to suggest ways we can define it in less “corporate terms”.
Here is what I think thought leadership should accomplish for your audience, and what you should get in return for providing it:
Thought leadership should provide your audience with valuable insights on – and answers to – questions on hot topics that they are just dying to know more about.
Thought leadership should not be a one-way transfer of information, but rather a path that leads to increased curiosity and, ultimately, knowledge on a topic.
When done well, thought leadership should be helping you build a trusting audience, as well as gain authority in your industry or niche.
It’s NOT about promoting yourself
Oh yeah – one more thing: thought leadership is in no way, shape or form supposed to be a conversation or outlet for you or your business to promote yourself.
Short-lived are the self-serving pieces of the past that only talk about you (how great you are, all the awesome things you do, etc.)
Don’t trust someone who only talks about their own business, because chances are, they don’t really know about anything else – oftentimes “anything else” being everything their audience actually cares about.
Good place to insert this note: just because I mentioned content marketing and thought leadership earlier (and blogs) doesn’t mean you’re off the hook if you run a brick and mortar business. This isn’t just a tip for online businesses who run blogs and podcasts – this is a tip for all businesses.
3 Reasons why you should care about Thought Leadership
1. It’s how you’re actually going to get noticed and build an audience (or grow your already-existing one)
If you don’t have anything of value to offer people, then why should they come and visit your site or get to know more about your business?
Your job is to figure out what the burning questions are that your audience wants to know more about, and then go out and create a video, a blog post, an eBook, or a Webinar series that will help answer those questions.
Whatever you create should provide insights as to why the topic you’re writing about is important, or what you – as an industry leader – think about it. This is why people will come to you for help instead of one of your competitors. If you don’t create it, then someone else will.
2. It’s a way to gain credibility and authority in your niche
When you can talk about the things that matter to your audience and provide insights and advice that is easy for them to consume and do something with (i.e. take action), then they’re going to start to trust you. This means they’ll be coming back to you again and again.
Building trust is key, especially when you’re just starting off. When people trust you, they’re more likely to turn to you first, and more likely to refer you to their friends.
3. It’s a way for you to connect with your most valuable customers
Instead of having a business name spitting out heavy claims with little to back it up other than, well, their business name, you are now the one providing your audience with valuable content. And chances are, if they’re tuning in to listen to you, then they’re interested in what you’re serving up.
This makes them valuable because they are the ones who will be more interested in actually purchasing your products and services.
Give your audience someone to connect with
Being a thought leader for your business – an actual face and a name – gives your audience a chance to connect with you on a personal level.
Now, instead of interacting with a page or a business, they’re interacting with a person. People are humans, and humans like feeling a connection.
Build a family, and then welcome your customers to it – they’ll love you for it!
So, now you know what thought leadership is, and three really important reasons why you should get into it. It’s time to take action!