Thought leadership is key in separating your brand from competitors within the industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic may forever change the world as we know it, but it remains to be seen just how and to what extent. While the unknown can be daunting, it also creates opportunities for industry leaders to step up and begin shaping that conversation like clay on a pottery wheel.  

Leveraging your professional expertise to create and share informed opinions across your industry is the very basis of thought leadership. As we look to the horizon and consider what the post-COVID-19 world may look like, industries are eager for thought leaders to emerge, shed light on our future, and guide the way.

When done well, thought leadership generates the right kind of brand awareness and drives new business opportunities. So, how do you create an effective marketing communications strategy that positions your brand for success through compelling thought leadership? If you’re looking for answers, you’ve come to the right place.

 

Step 1: Identify Your Audience

Who exactly are you trying to get in front of? Spoiler alert: “Everyone” is not an acceptable answer. 

Understanding your distinct target audiences will help you identify the messages you want to share. Those messages will differ from audience to audience, and the vehicles you can use to best reach those audiences will differ quite a bit, as well.

In many cases, you will have multiple audiences, ranging from internal personnel to key decision makers within specific industries. Trying to reach all of them through a single message, platform, or approach won’t be very effective. 

Identifying each of those target audience “personas” is a great way to better understand who you’re talking to, what to say, and how to say it. It will also help define the vehicles and platforms you will use -- ones that will likely resonate with them based on their preferences, levels of experience, and awareness of your products or services.

Ideal Buyer Worksheet

 

Step 2: Find the Right Communications Channels

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is the vast number of channels people use to share and consume information – which can be overwhelming.

The good news? You don’t have to be on every channel. Find the right ones that will best position you in front of your target audiences, and begin pursuing opportunities there. Being quoted in the Wall Street Journal may be thrilling, but a few well-placed bylines in prominent industry trade publications may do more to enhance your thought leadership profile with industry decision-makers.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Podcasts, LinkedIn articles, e-books, newsletter content, Twitter – these are all vehicles you can leverage to position yourself as a thought leader. Again, choosing the right vehicle(s) just depends on who you’re trying to reach and where they consume information.

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Step 3: Create Efficiencies with a Content Ecosystem

Repurposing and sharing published thought leadership on your own communications channels is equally important. That article you published in a prominent trade publication would be great to share on your LinkedIn or Twitter channel, and it’s also great content to highlight in your next company newsletter. You may even send a link or PDF of the byline to client contacts if it provides relevant insights or considerations.

The point is: One great piece of content can be leveraged in a variety of ways to further elevate your credibility without having to reinvent the wheel each time. By mapping out a content ecosystem, you can better understand where to share content and information in a way that makes sense based on the topic, your audience personas, how they consume information, and the type of information relevant to them.

While these tips can help you get started, establishing yourself as a thought leader takes time and dedication. One article won’t do it – just like one hit song doesn’t make a band Hall of Fame-worthy. It takes a steady stream of content creation, delivery, and consumption across several communications channels to establish yourself as a go-to industry expert.  

That can be a lot of work!

 

Next Steps:

If you need help, it’s best to partner with experienced communications professionals that know how to establish brand executives as thought leaders. Airfoil’s team of experts understands how to identify your audiences and your ideal communications channels, as well as the content strategies that will elevate your status as a thought leader. If you’re ready to begin your journey, reach out to Airfoil today.

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