The move to develop brand status from “industry leader” into “thought leader”, presents a daunting challenge for many SMEs.
All too often, highly successful businesses, benefiting from a wealth of expertise, experience and industry knowledge, struggle to convert all of the above into effective marketing content. All SMEs can gain a real advantage from thought leadership content that will help to reveal innovation and drive conversation – significantly differentiating your business and your level of expertise.
Here are some simple, general tips that you can follow to make your content stand out in a crowded online marketplace.
- Focus – It is important to assess what is trying to be achieved through the content. Why is it important that your audience sees this piece of work? For example, one of the key methods for a standard thought leadership article is to identify and illustrate a recent common customer challenge, then detail unique solutions to this issue that relate back to the services that your business provides. By always looking to position your business as the solution provider within your content, you will benefit from showcasing a superior level of expertise. But be warned – there is a fine line between communicating what your business can do, and pushing your products.
- Provoke – While your overall content plan may primarily be designed with the main goal of showcasing your services, thought leadership articles can also be used to provoke thoughts, ideas and discussions amongst readers.There may be a trend or topic of discussion within your specific industry that your business is yet to have a say on, or there may be a wider, top-level matter that no one in your industry has even talked about yet. Exploring ideas, and inviting others to do the same with you, will show your audience that you are an innovative organisation, with one eye on the future.
- Optimise – Once it has gone live, your customers will want to have access to the content in a variety of ways: in print, online, via social media and on their smart devices. It is therefore important that it is quickly adapted for those output channels, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Some general social rules of thumb: only brief summaries and statistics should be shared on Twitter, a conversational tone should be used on Facebook, and LinkedIn – often the preferred channel for thought leadership content – should be a place where you look to invite professional discussion and talk industry trends.
Guaranteeing that your content is optimised for all channels will go a long way in ensuring that the desired impact is achieved across the board.