Thought leadership is essential to making a professional service or technology business successful. In fact, 75% of professional services and technology firms see thought leadership as their greatest source of differentiation.
That’s because, in professional service firms and technology companies, the knowledge you possess and the guidance you can share are your products. We are operating in a hyper-competitive environment where you need to stand out in a sea of competitors. Establishing credibility and subject matter expertise is the best marketing strategy you can implement. Potential clients are looking for an expert to guide them through their business challenges – your goal is to show them that you’re that resource. According to a Hinge Marketing report, experts within high-growth firms are viewed as being highly skilled at speaking, writing, and networking. Potential clients want to work with subject matter experts, and by reading content that your experts contribute to, your firm is viewed as offering more expertise.
Perhaps you haven’t focused on this area in the past. That doesn’t change the fact that you need to appear as a thought leader and trusted advisor in your space. How can you do so if this was not your focus in the past, or if you want to improve your position in the marketplace?
Through our research and work with clients over the past two decades, we’ve found 5 key tactics that help companies position themselves as an expert.
1. Perform better than your peers.
Outperforming your peers is an incontestable way to prove you’re the expert to be heard. Remember that it’s not just outperforming them once, but over and over again. Clients want to become educated by the best there is and if you can prove you exceed your competition, you’ll be seen as a thought leader. This will help you earn repeat business, as well as referrals.
2. Produce successful results.
If you consistently strive to do point number one, this tactic will come naturally. For each engagement you have with a customer, document clear goals and then the various ways you met those goals. Build upon this step to move onto the next tactic, where you’ll define measurable results that you’re proud to show off. Measurable means quantifiable – use real numbers wherever possible.
3. Define and showcase measurable results.
One way that you can “prove” your success is by writing case studies. Ask key clients for testimonials , and be sure to include quantifiable results whenever possible. Your goal is to share authentic, measurable, and legitimate client results. Institutionalize the process of creating a case study as soon as you complete your work for your clients..
Consider where potential clients will look for information on your company, and highlight results there. Mostly, that will be in digital sources like online, but also keep in mind word-of-mouth, events, or professional directories. It’s worth noting that your results needn’t be perfect for you to showcase them. In fact, if you have a 10 out of 10 client satisfaction score, that can come across as inauthentic.
4. Create unique, relevant content.
Generate eBooks, white papers, marketing strategy checklists, POVs, and any other professional content that is fundamental to educating your target audience. To develop a trusting relationship between you and your customers, start with topics your clients believe you are already an expert on to reinforce your role as a trusted advisor. Create a professional persona online while remembering what’s important to the business and what your ‘why’ is. Keep to marketing strategy by continually reminding yourself and those you employ of the ‘why’. In a recent article on Forbes.com, Bruce Rogers, Chief Insight Officer, shared that companies who consistently create thought leadership content “become the go-to providers for their expertise. They make it dramatically easier for clients and centers of influence to refer new qualified prospects to them.”
5. Make it personal.
When you create content about yourself, include a biography, write in the third person, emphasize your experience history and do so for the rest of your team. Blog content should consistently highlight the credibility of the authors, while also positioning them as relatable people. Help prospective clients to see the real individuals behind the face of your company – the actual team who will roll up their sleeves and solve their biggest business hurdles.
You built a business. That means you have the talent and mastery to position your firm for success. It can be hard to promote that expertise to clients without a laundry list of past success stories – but these 5 top tactics are a great start.
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