We all want to believe that our company is a leader in the industry we serve. Whether you are a CEO or an administrative assistant, we take pride in knowing that our firm is a dominant player in our particular space. We’re Americans after all.
For this reason, among others, every company wants to put its best foot forward when it comes to positioning their brand and value proposition to the public. Industry leading. Go-to resource. Nationally recognized. Cutting edge. These and a host of other buzz words can be found on the homepage and about pages of numerous company websites, marketing materials and advertisements.
But do these words really mean anything? How do you really know if your firm is leading the pack? Here are five simple ways to tell if your company is a true leader in your industry.
Your Company Needs No Introduction
Google. Amazon. Apple. Ford. Coca-Cola. These are all obvious names of course, but they’re obvious for a reason. These companies are all leaders in their spaces and, for most of them, it isn’t even close. Not only have these brands done an outstanding job of grabbing ahold of the biggest shovel in their respective sandbox, they have woven their way into the daily lives of millions and millions of consumers.
While your firm may not be a household name like these companies, it should be recognized within your industry if you want to be considered a leading player, that is. If you have to explain who your firm is to your peers, chances are you’ve still got a ways to go, no matter how much you’ve accomplished.
Your Firm is Growing
This one may seem pretty straightforward, but it’s critically important. It’s highly unlikely that your firm is a leading player in your industry if you are closing doors and laying off segments of your workforce. Industry leaders typically have a broad growth strategy, expand into new markets and regularly bring on new talent. Revenue will continue to increase year-over-year, as will your overall brand awareness. Think of the leaders in your industry… chances are these all apply.
Your Company is Regularly Featured in the Press… for the Right Reasons
There is an old adage that says “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” While there are plenty of people who believe this is true, you cannot argue with the power of positive publicity. Ever watch Shark Tank? Companies featured in the tank regularly see massive spikes in sales immediately after the show airs – whether they go home with a deal or not. That’s the power of publicity.
Industry leaders regularly receive media coverage for the positive things they are doing, whether it’s the launch of a new product or service, a new corporate initiative, expanding into a new market or giving back to the community. Here’s an example… Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, was recently in the news because he hinted that the social media giant is considering lifting the 140-character limit. While this may not be considered an earth-shattering development to everyone, Twitter is a clear leader in its space, so this was big news in the world of social.
This is not to say that industry leaders don’t get their fair share of negative press coverage as well – just ask Chipotle these days – but the big players usually make many more positive headlines than negative.
Your Firm’s Executives are Considered Thought Leaders
According to Denise Brosseau, CEO of Thought Leadership Lab and the author of Ready to Be a Thought Leader, thought leaders are defined as “the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality and know and show how to replicate their success.”
Well said Denise. There are many ways to become a thought leader in your field – media appearances, books, speaking appearances, bylined articles, radio appearances, etc. – but it’s very difficult to get there without finding success first. When members of the media, industry peers, and even competitors are reaching out to you and your team for your opinions on key topics in your field, you’ve become a thought leader and a leader in your industry.
Your Competitors Follow Your Lead
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? There’s a reason for imitation in business. When a competitor rips off one of your ideas, it’s because it was successful and they want to achieve a similar level of success.
Industry leaders establish trends that the rest of the marketplace then follows. Let’s look at mobile phones… With more than 43% of the market share of U.S. smartphone subscribers using their products, Apple is clearly the leader in this area. Competitors like Samsung (a close second), LG, Motorola and HTC are left to do what they can to keep up. Apple and Samsung are locked in a heated product battle that includes phones, tablets and even watches, with no apparent end in sight. This doesn’t happen if they weren’t the two undisputed leaders in the space.
While we all want to be the industry leader in our particular field, the reality is just not possible. You can’t have leaders without followers and there are no Goliaths without the corresponding Davids. The good news is every industry titan got its start somewhere. With the right vision, team and growth strategy in place, your firm can become a leader and keep the competition guessing about your next move!
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