Why do you think many CEOs are now considering leadership marketing strategies?
It’s because they find that advertising just does not get their message or their company’s message across to end-customers. That’s why they investigate thought leadership marketing as an alternative.
That’s when many CEOs consider working with a public relations/communications firm. A PR firm typically starts by publishing educational articles in trade publications that describe the features and benefits of a product or service to readers. Appearing in major trade publications, these articles can prove highly effective, especially if they are “blasted,” using various social media strategies.
As with advertising, PR certainly can be effective. And while it is less costly than advertising, an issue with PR is that it can be a slow process. I always compare it to a steam train pulling out of the barn. It starts slowly but, with time, gathers momentum. Finally, it’s moving after several months, and sales are coming in.
So, it’s no wonder CEOs are looking for another option. One that’s proving to be practical and cost-effective and moves a bit faster than traditional PR is to become an industry Thought Leader.
The Power of Thought Leadership Marketing
“If you want to stand out, you must find ways to share your expertise, promote your brand, and spotlight your thoughts,” says Evan Nierman, founder, and CEO of an international crisis communications firm and author of Crisis Averted. By doing so, Nierman says CEOs can “elevate their authority and influence” and, at the same time, “elevate their company’s stance,” which typically translates into increased sales.
As to why being a thought leader is essential, he says that “consumers today want more than just a good deal on a product or service. They want to share values with a provider that supports those same issues. Communicating with members of your target audience lends credibility and authenticity. The combination results in the kind of trust money just can’t buy.”
Becoming a Thought Leader for both the CEO and their company also forces them to stay closely attuned to what their customers say and need. This is crucial because those needs change over time. It’s always best if a Thought Leader not only remains current but, more than this, is one step ahead of industry directions.
The Relatability Factor of Thought Leadership
Based on Nierman’s discussion and my own experience working with CEOs who have become successful Thought Leaders, we need to add one more component to thought leadership: relatability.
Interestingly, how that word is used today is not the same as it was used years ago. Back in the 1940s, to be relatable was to be comprehensible. Something relatable meant that people could understand, relate, and even empathize with something or someone.
Relatability and Likeability of Thought Leaders
Today, relatable means something or someone is likable. As it applies to Thought Leaders, relatable means that even if some customers don’t always share your views, they still can relate to you and like you as an individual.
Further, they are willing to listen to what you say on topics not pertaining to your industry. In other words, customers will keep the door open to your expertise, which is of paramount importance to becoming an effective Thought Leader.
One of the ways CEOs become relatable is by listening and respecting what others have to say. They must also value what others say and think. Remember: these are your customers.
This means “effective leaders must be connected with their audiences and customers,” says Nierman. “Going a step further, [they must] exhibit genuine concern.”
People see, feel, and relate to this, which is key to becoming an effective Thought Leader. Showing genuine concern leads to credibility and authority in an industry.
For more than twenty years, Robert Kravitz and his firm, AlturaSolutions Communications, has been collaborating with people and organizations, helping them become and then excel as Thought Leaders in their respective industries. He can be reached at LinkedIn at alturasolutions.com.