The coronavirus pandemic has forced the business to go digital and innovate. Digital transformation was already on its way, but the epidemiological situation accelerated the pace of change. Interactions with customers and employees take place virtually. With just a few exceptions, operating digitally is the only way to stay in business and survive in the post-COVID-19 era. It’s not a good idea to focus on in-person engagement, even if vaccines offer the promise of a new future. It’s imperative to streamline processes and leverage technologies to enhance interaction with customers and deliver an unparalleled experience. 

Given that we live in a virtual-first world, it’s even more challenging to get noticed. While trying to draw attention, many businesses unconsciously want to be like everyone else. They don’t wish to be mocked by their peers or their industry. Perhaps you’ve made the same mistake. It’s not possible to make everyone happy, just to be clear. At some point or another, you’ll offend or upset someone. The question now is: What can you do to make your business stand out from its competitors? For maximum impacts and results, become a thought leader. You’ll almost instantly increase your impact on colleagues, customers, and stakeholders. 

What is a thought leader? And why should you become one? 

A thought leader is basically a person or an organisation that has a high level of knowledge in a certain area, which is valued and even in demand. Contrary to popular opinion, a thought leader isn’t an influencer. The term belongs to the business world and focuses exclusively on experts on serious topics. If you’d like to find out more about thought leadership, there are some good tutorials you can watch. Perception matters in today’s world, so create compelling, insightful content that brings something new to your audience. Answer people’s questions and show that you’re not a faceless company.   

If you have knowledge banks and special skill sets, take advantage of the opportunities presented to you to make others fall in love with your business. Notable companies offer guidance and insights to those around them. Thought leadership matters for B2B and B2C companies alike, but it’s particularly relevant for organisations that create products and services aimed at other businesses. The explanation lies in the fact that the decision-making process is more complex and there are a larger number of people involved. What’s important to keep in mind is that branding in the digital era is all about the questions people are asking. 

How to establish yourself as a thought leader 

The health crisis isn’t comparable to anything that we’ve ever seen. Not only has it engulfed the global economy but also changed entire industries and business models. Entrepreneurs must take advantage of digital channels to reach their existing audience, attract new ones, and move forward. In the upcoming months, many people will be thirsty for knowledge and searching for tips on how to navigate this unusual situation. It’s the perfect opportunity to create strong, long-lasting relationships with customers and prospects. If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader, these suggestions might come in handy.

Transform market research into thought leadership 

Market research is used to get a better understanding of customers, such as what makes them tick and what problems might be bothering them. Not many realize that this act of gathering information about customers’ needs and preferences has a hidden benefit. The information can be used in digital marketing campaigns to create brand awareness and place the company as an industry thought leader. For instance, you can use surveys to create your own news. This way, you can boost your share of voice, not to mention that the datasets can be further used by journalists and marketers. 

To uncover surprising and newsworthy information you can take advantage of the insight gained while conducting market research and competitive analysis. Thanks to market research, you can dig deeper into the subject and find information that might not be visible otherwise. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked by companies when preparing communications strategies. Just so you know, undertaking a proper study doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. If you don’t have the time or resources to commit to the process, hire a specialised agency. Of course, it’s not necessary to use every data point in your research.  

Maintain a level of persistence, dedication, and consistency 

As far as thought leadership is concerned, it’s essential to be persistent, focused, and consistent. Regardless of what online channel you use to promote your business, maintain a consistent style and message. You should convince people that you’re a reliable company to deal with and that every part of the experience is exceptional. People should be able to identify your company on the spot, so deliver content frequently and consistently. Consistency matters because it creates familiarity, which in turn leads to trust and long-term relationships. 

Focus on difference with distinction 

There’s room for more than one brand within an industry. If you manage to differentiate your company from others, you can gain an advantage. If you aspire to be a thought leader, concentrate on increasing clarity and precision in your thinking. Rather than checking boxes and passing on to the next item on the list, it’s better to go deeper into the matter. Refine your thoughts, discover what’s different, and try to communicate that. Be very precise with your communications and avoid exaggerations or understatements.

Clearly describe what benefit you offer, what can you do for your customers, and, most importantly, what distinguishes you from the competition. More exactly, you should place emphasis on your unique value proposition. It’s not about self-promotion but being generous with your perspective and knowledge. The good news is that, to succeed in today’s economy, you don’t have to be a rock star.  Rather than adding to the same debate, make a unique contribution. Share your perspective on things. Become the type of person that everyone pays attention to. If you’re good at one thing, people will naturally assume you’re good at other stuff too.

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