Putting a Face to Your Organization: How Thought Leadership Forges Personal Connections with Your Audiences
Although we live in a digital world, people still crave personal connections. After all, we are emotional beings and while we spend more time than ever on digital devices, we still have an innate need for authentic relationships.
This need goes beyond family and friends – it extends to the brands we buy, and the companies we work with. This is especially true for the Millennial generation. As this demographic comes of age and represents more and more of the country’s buying power, they are putting increasing pressure on companies of all sizes to think beyond their products and forge meaningful connections with consumers.
Research shows that Millennials, as well as other generations, are becoming more skeptical of traditional advertising. Why? Because it’s clear they are being sold to. We are bombarded 24/7 with advertising messages on everything from electronic devices to environmental signage. It’s no wonder that a slick TV spot or billboard isn’t enough to build brand loyalty or change consumer behavior any longer.
So how can brands and organizations make personal connections with consumers in an increasingly impersonal world? One way is to showcase the people, leaders, mission and values behind a brand through thought leadership.
What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership is a marketing strategy that goes beyond an organization’s products and services and instead focuses on its people and expertise. A well-planned and executed thought leadership program can provide numerous benefits that complement a company’s overall marketing and public relations efforts. These benefits include:
- Making personal connections with audiences.
Thought leadership is all about the people behind an organization, their expertise and values. Think about your company leaders, executives and even niche subject matter experts. Do they have a unique story or background? Do they have experience or skills that people would clamor to hear about? Personal passions for community involvement or philanthropic causes? Using a thought leadership campaign to tell these stories showcases the faces behind your organization and, in turn, can help audiences feel a more personal and emotional connection with your company.
- Sharing expertise and actionable insights.
In thought leadership programs, it’s more common to give something away than to make sales. And that’s OK. When developing your thought leadership program, think about what kind of information you can share with audiences that will provide value. Do you have insights about the latest industry trends? Tips for how your customers can get the most out of your products? Ideas for audiences that relate to specific seasons or holidays? Freely sharing these ideas gives your company the opportunity to engage with audiences beyond just selling products. In the moment and well afterwards, your brand and thought leaders will be remembered as a trusted source when your audience is ready to make a decision. Invest in this reputation-building effort.
- Building credibility.
Successful thought leadership programs include tactical elements like speaking engagements, award opportunities, submitted columns to blogs and media outlets and podcast interviews. All of these things play an important role in building the reputation and third-party credibility for your company’s executives, as well as the organization overall. Think about the places where your audiences are turning for advice and focus on sharing your thought leadership there.
- Differentiating from the competition.
A thought leadership program is a great way to show how you stand apart from the competition because it gets to the heart of what your organization is about. Through thought leadership, your executives can speak first-hand about the people and values that make your company unique, and how you live out those values while serving customers every day.
Thought leadership can and should play a key role in a company’s overall marketing and public relations plan. And like all marketing and public relations plans, a thought leadership program should have clear and measurable goals. However, it is important to keep in mind that the goals of thought leadership should go beyond just sales and the bottom line.
Sometimes, the benefits reaped are increased brand awareness, stronger connections with audiences, greater brand loyalty and trust. Beyond that, in today’s crowded marketing landscape, thought leadership can play a vital role in establishing your organization as the go-to expert in your industry, opening doors to earned media opportunities, strategic partnerships and talent recruitment.
Approach Marketing is proud to work with clients across the board to develop the right kind of thought leadership program for their organizations and executives. To learn more, approach us at firstname.lastname@example.org