At a Washington Network Group entrepreneurs roundtable event last Wednesday night, speaker Angelique Rewers, also known as The Corporate AgentTM used two terms during her talk that caused some audience members to look at her like she’d sprouted eight arms: Content marketing and thought leader.
She explained that content marketing involves creating and distributing relevant and valuable information to attract, acquire, and engage your target audience and lead them to a desired action. “You want to be a thought leader,” she said.
“But the challenge is how do you provide good content without giving away all your strategy, right?” asked an audience member.
You may remember that I wrote a blog post a while back that reassured you that you can afford to give away some of your ideas without fearing that a potential client will run with them and never give you or your business a second thought.
The keys to content marketing and framing yourself and others in your company as thought leaders are to: 1. Give your audience simple information that they can either act on right now or that answers pressing questions and 2. Plant a seed in the audience’s mind that you and your company are the leading authorities on this subject.
Face it. If your audience doesn’t get this information from you, then they’ll perform a Google search and find someone else who’ll give them the answer.
Business owners think that being a thought leader means that you have spout Confucius-like, life-changing tidbits that no one else is close to even thinking about. If you can do this, then congratulations. But there’s not much new under the sun. It just has to be new to your audience.
So here are six steps toward establishing yourself and your team members as thought leaders online.
- Think about the pillars on which you operate your business.
What are your company’s top business offerings? Why do you offer these services? Why should your audience come to you for these services?
- Define who you’re serving with those pillars.
This is an important one. Who is your audience? Who usually buys the services you offer? Be very specific with this description. What do these people do for a living? What do they look like? What do they read? Even better, identify actual points of contact at your client organizations and use them to create a detailed profile of your target audience for each of your services.
- Determine what questions your audience asks.
When potential clients approach you, or your ears perk up after meeting a potential client, what is it that they’re seeking? What problems do they tend to come to your company to solve before they become a client? What are their pain-points?
- Consider how you can help your audience answer these questions quickly and the best ways to present the information.
Now that you’re familiar with your audience’s common questions and pain-points, how can you address these in succinct and interesting ways? Should your company start a blog? Which team members should contribute? Perhaps you should begin shooting short videos? Is there information that could be presented in infographics? Do you have PowerPoint presentations that you can upload to Slideshare?
- Create an editorial calendar.
This step is tricky, but helpful. Determine all the channels through which you’d like to share content (blogging, video, e-books, etc.). Then create a calendar that details when these items will go live and be available to share. For example, you may decide that your company will publish four blog posts and create four short videos per month, release one e-book per quarter, and curate content via social media on a daily basis. Your editorial calendar should provide a brief description of subject matter for each piece of content, estimate when each will be completed/posted, and how all content will be shared.
- Be consistent.
I realize that we live in an instant-results kind of society, but this process takes time. Be consistent with your content creation. Monitor what kinds of content resonate best with your audience and keep giving them what they want.
Share with us: How do you define thought leadership? How are you using content to raise your/your company’s professional profile in your field?
Read 6 Myths Blocking Your Social Media Engagement, our special report that addresses misconceptions that are keeping your company from investing time into tools that will can help increase two-way communication with your customers—current and potential. Print this report. Read it on the train ride home. Highlight key points. Share it with your colleagues. And please, jump in the social media marketing game and get started.