Thought Leadership for Professional Services
Thought leadership in marketing is a simple enough concept: it’s the art of establishing your company as the best in the industry through the strategic sharing of expert information. Earning that reputation, though – that takes time and a real dedication to your thought leadership marketing strategy. As Brian Rhoads, the former Head of Content at Intel, likes to say, “You have to win the Internet every day.”
In other words, you have to prove to your audience time and time again that you know your stuff. And for professional services organizations, that can be a pretty laborious process. If you were selling a product, you could give out samples to prove the worth of that product firsthand, and that may be enough to close a sale. But when you’re selling a service, your sales cycle is much longer, and your entry barrier into the market is much higher. Thought leadership content marketing requires you to prove yourself worthy while earning the trust of your core audience, and that means sharing information about your process that gives your potential audience a glimpse into how you’re able to produce results that no one else can.
Many professionals tend to shy away from this approach because they’re worried about giving away too much information. After all, how do you stop the client from taking your ideas and doing it themselves? The answer is twofold:
1. Be strategic in what you give away.
The idea isn’t to give away all of your secrets. Instead, you want to share just enough information that allows you to illustrate that you know what you’re talking about. That feeling of expertise will help to create a relationship of trust. You may also want to point out a problem – maybe even bring to light a problem your audience didn’t even know they had – and show them that you can solve it.
2. Prove that yes, maybe they can execute your idea – but not nearly as well as you can.
In fact, it’s likely that the information you possess is so overwhelming to your potential clients that they would rather pay you to do the job – and do it right the first time – rather than having to worry about trying to figure it out themselves. And even if they do try, let them. The truth is, they won’t be able to implement it the way you can, and they may still come back to you in the end.
At its core, thought leadership in marketing turns an intangible idea into a tangible offering. There’s a seemingly endless list of assets that can be used in the marketing funnel, including white papers, articles, webinars, custom tools, videos, etc. In fact, at Paradigm Marketing & Design, we have clients that use regular webinar series – coupled with social media advertising, email marketing and more – as a tremendously successful inbound lead strategy.
By approaching your audience with an offering – i.e., information (in any form) – as opposed to going straight for the hard “sales ask,” it helps to soften that blow. You’ll find that many companies are much more receptive to a direct sales strategy when the door is opened with a gift, rather than an ask.
For help creating your own thought leadership marketing strategy, contact Paradigm Marketing & Design today to schedule a consultation.