In financial services, where there are many similar products available on the market, thought leadership has long been used as a tool to differentiate companies from their competition.
From banks trying to fight off new entrants, to robo-advisers targeting younger investors, businesses across the industry are striving to capture the hearts and minds of clients and prospects.
High quality thought leadership can cement an organisation’s reputation as a trusted partner, industry leader and employer of choice. Yet in a cluttered digital world, there is still plenty of navel-gazing content being produced that fails to cut through.
So how can you be a thought leader instead of a follower?
1. Identify your thought leaders
The CEO or founder of your company should certainly be considered one of your thought leaders, as most media want to speak directly to them about the company’s broad vision.
However, it is important to establish a bench of influencers from different areas of the business who can bring their own unique perspective, while still supporting the brand’s positioning.
Encouraging a culture of idea-sharing and innovation is often the starting point to finding these internal influencers. They can come from any area of the business – sales, product, research, or even finance – as long as they have a passion for what your company does and some unique insights to share.
2. Build a content strategy
Once you have established a bank of talent, determine the business goals you will focus on for the year. These can be anything from new product launches to a potential business growth area. Research has found that business themes give thought leadership programs a deeper level of connection to clients’ needs and goals.
When planning your content strategy and calendar, think about creating content that will capture the attention of your audience. Your information needs to be both relevant and engaging, so get creative. Tell a story, offer a solution to a problem or make bold predictions.
The most effective thought leaders also use sound research to back up their ideas.
Consulting firms such as Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and McKinsey have become global front runners in thought leadership for good reason. Their fact-based reports give their content credibility and help to cut through the raft of uniformed opinion in today’s market.
3. Know your audience
While commissioning your most experienced analyst to write a 200-page white paper on the energy sector might seem like a great idea, stop and think about how many people are going to read this.
If your audience is institutional investors, a white paper could well prove to be a hit. In fact, recent research found when presented with 11 formats for business insights, senior executives chose longer form content such as feature-length articles and reports (22%) and business books (21%) as their preferred format.
Yet if your goal is to reach a larger audience of retail investors, keep it snappy. A well written blog or focused short video is much more likely to generate hits and be shared than an article that takes a lot of time and technical know-how to digest.
Too often we see thought leadership content that tries to incorporate too many new ideas or is filled with jargon. The pieces that leave a lasting impression are the ones that communicate new information in a simple, engaging way.
Honner helps clients find their voice and share insights in an engaging way. If you’d like help developing your thought leadership strategy, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org