When developing a coherent brand positioning strategy, thought leadership should be an integral component. By spotlighting company leaders and positioning executives to share interesting, thoughtful commentary, companies can build credibility and trust in their related fields of expertise. However, creating innovative or pioneering thinking i.e. becoming a thought leader does not happen overnight.
Below, we have developed a quick reference guide to use in the planning stage of your thought leadership strategy.
Step 1: Know Your Brand
- What is the key, unique brand identity you want everyone who is exposed to your company to walk away with?
- When people talk about your company, what are some of the most important things you want them to say?
- Who are your most valuable, most engaged target customers?
- What outlets do your target customers look to for trusted advice and insights into your field of expertise?
Step 2: Listen Before Speaking
- Figure out where your customers are talking and join the conversation. Whether they are fervent followers of Squawk Box or really engaged on Facebook groups dedicated to cryptocurrency, the first step is to find out where your audience is talking and tap into those networks.
- Keep up with current topics and trends in your industry and make sure your speaking the same language as your audience
- Go back through your customer records and identify key concerns, problems challenges your own customers faced that your company was able to help overcome.
Step 3: Obey the 4 B’s of Credible Content
- Be Different
- Read what other thought leaders are saying, then DON’T repeat their talking points. Find ways to develop your own unique voice and make sure your messaging stands out from the crowd.
- Be Vulnerable
- Nothing builds credibility faster than being willing to showcase your flaws and mistakes in ways that show your experience and willingness to grow and learn
- Acknowledging your shortcomings, whether through responding to online reviews or highlighting past challenges you have faced helps you appear more human, relatable and easier to trust.
- Be Consistent
- Different messages for different stakeholders worked in the world before the internet. Today make sure all your marketing mediums –interviews, blog posts, radio etc. have a unified core message.
- Develop an integrated marketing communication plan and decide what content you want to release in advance. At KCD PR that means strategy sessions to come up with blogs for our clients and ourselves often months in advance on the topics our audience most wants to hear about.
- Be Accountable
- If your brand has a core set of values and a strong mission statement, don’t waver in the face of criticism. Be true to the principles you establish in the marketplace and make sure your brand messaging and thought leadership commentary is always consistent with those values.
- If it isn’t true, DON’T SAY IT. The days of being able to brush inconvenient corporate problems under the rug or misrepresent company problems are over. Just ask Delta Airlines. News agencies know that disaster sells better then positive stories and trying to cover up corporate mischief is like waving a red flag in front a bull for many of today’s modern reporters.
- Instead, confront your problems head on. Come up with a detailed strategy for fixing mistakes or problems, create a clear, strong message that lets the public know your addressing it and get in front of it BEFORE the media does.
For more tips on positioning yourself as a thought leader, or to start a conversation about brand positioning strategy, find us on social media or send us a message.