Running a business is not for the faint hearted. It’s intense, stressful, and requires an exceptional amount of time, money, effort, and expertise. It can often feel like the universe has played one giant cosmic joke on you, trapping you in the mother of all hamster wheels, perpetually running after goals that are tantalisingly close, but constantly out of reach.
It’s also incredibly rewarding, both in terms of personal growth and accomplishment, and the financial rewards of being independently in control of your own future.
But building a successful company with an irresistible brand and loyal customer base is far from easy. From the daily minutiae and admin required to keep everything running, to growing and manage an effective team, not to mention the perpetual cycles of marketing, lead generation, client retention, and balancing the books, it really is endless.
One of the most effective ways of ensuring success is positioning yourself (and your business) as an influential brand within your niche. Pioneering the future of your industry all but guarantees success, and there are few CEOs or management teams that wouldn’t instantly jump at the chance to establish themselves as trailblazers.
With digital marketing and mobile technology has come the opportunity for anyone and everyone to start their own business. Competition has never been higher, and creativity, originality, and innovation have never been more valuable.
So why is it that so many businesses are languishing in the slush pile of mediocrity that has been created by the rise of the digital age?
As with most things with the potential to create huge success, becoming a truly influential force in any niche is easier said than done. Yet if you’re serious about your business development, it’s something you desperately need to do.
You already know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this post.
From brand recognition, to customer loyalty, the ability to reach a wider audience, and the capacity to command higher prices, achieving the coveted status of thought leader is the holy grail of marketing. To help you out in your quest, here’s how to easily position yourself (and your company) as the go-to influencer in your industry…
Nurture A Strong Company Culture…
Positioning your company as an influential force in your industry and a thought-leader in your niche really hinges on two things: your brand, and your content. We’ll get into those in a minute, but underpinning the pair of them is your company culture, something that’s vital if you want them both to have a strong foundation.
Thought leading brands are forward-thinking, innovative, creative, and unafraid to experiment in order to find a better way of doing things.
It’s very difficult to give the impression of being a company driven by innovation, improvement, growth, and out-of-the-box thinking when it isn’t actually true.
Running a business is a busy affair. With so much to do all the time we can be forgiven for finding a way of making something work, and simply carrying on using that solution, never considering it again. It’s particularly easy to do when things are going well. Rethinking how you do things is a no brainer if you need to improve your results, but it’s surprising how quickly success can lead to us getting stuck in a rut.
Before you start trying to position your business as a trailblazer, start blazing some trails. Try new methods, learn new skills, expand your products and services, and continually push to make each and every process in your business as efficient and effective as possible.
Influencer Hack: Develop Your Team As Individuals First…
Beyond your systems and processes, company culture is about people, and the ethos that drives your business. Having a clear understanding of the ‘why’ behind what you do, and weaving that why into the way you do things, is the best way to build a strong culture. We’re not talking about the obvious ‘why’ of making money, but the deeper meaning behind your products and services.
Focusing on how your company improves the world for your clients, how the culture at your organisation can improve life for your employees, and how you can continually enrich both is the best way to build a culture strong enough to position you as a thought leader.
The other key to a great company culture is developing your team as individuals, as well as forging them into a coherent unit. Giving them room and opportunity to grow and constantly develop will infuse your business with a constant stream of fresh ideas and energy.
Hone Your Brand Story…
A couple of weeks ago I was talking about the power of your brand story in creating success in your business. The stronger your brand’s narrative and the more effectively you align that tale with the way you want your industry to see you, the easier it will be to position yourself as an influencer.
Work your brand values and dedication to developing your culture and employees into your story. Try to think of your story as the film version of your company biography. All your prospects are going to be watching this flick, so what impression do you want to leave them with? How do you want them to feel about your brand?
Influencer Hack: Find Your Brand Archetype…
The story you tell about your brand is incredibly influential. If you want to be known as a thought leader, that story needs to position you as the hero of your industry, with a character and plot worthy of that title.
One very effective way of doing this is to figure out your brand archetype, and use that to help you create the perfect character, plot, and voice for your brand. Archetypes connect with all humans on a subconscious level, because they’re patterns we are very familiar with, having seen them (and their stories) play out in countless books, plays, films, and songs since humans first stared telling stories.
And humans have been telling stories since before they were able to write.
Rock Your Content…
While the culture you create for your business and the story you tell about your brand will forge a strong foundation for a rep as an influential thought leader, the heavy lifting is going to be done by your content. Although it’s important for every business to have a solid content marketing plan in place that’s designed to maximise your ROI, as well as keep up with all the latest trends, content is utterly essential for thought leadership.
Original ideas are the only way to truly establish yourself as a thought leader.
That means looking at all the areas in your industry, and finding newer, better ways of doing them. It means taking an analytical approach to the business landscape a whole, and a holistic approach to business development that incorporates elements from other industries, in intriguing and powerful new ways.
Creating genuinely original content distinguishes you from all the competition.
All the companies in your industry are churning out content on the same topics. They’re using it to build their audience, rank well on search engines, and populate their email marketing and social media campaigns.
There is a certain level of banality to all this content creation. You’re all doing the same thing, selling the same (or very similar stuff), competing for the same spots on the SEPRs, and trying to attract the same clients.
This leads to very ‘samey’ content.
The trick is to talk about the things your audience is most interested in (which, generally speaking, is what everyone else in your industry in talking about), but in fresh, new, interesting ways. Not only does this give you a competitive edge that makes people stop and pay attention to you ahead of everyone else, that uniqueness is something everyone else will instantly seek to emulate.
They will follow where you lead.
Original content will influence your competition, inspire them to follow you, and in doing so position you as the head of the pack.
Influencer Hack: Invest In High-Level Content Marketing…
If you’re serious about making your brand the alpha of your sector, there are certain types of high-level content you should be investing in:
- Long form content is essential if you’re going to develop your ideas and vision effectively. 500 word blog posts just aren’t going to cut it.
- Articles and white papers that outline specific theories, methods, ideas, research, and innovations.
- Video formats for all your high-level content, making it more shareable, more easily absorbed, and in itself a demonstration that you’re at the cutting edge of your own marketing (video being the future of content).
- Running webinars on the subjects of your original content.
- Creating paid eCourses or free mini courses around those subjects to teach your methods and ideas to as many people as possible.
- Creating a ‘signature’ service or method that either puts a new twist on something that’s otherwise generic in your industry, or outlines an entirely new ‘thing’ that nobody else is doing at all.
Constantly Ask: What’s Next?
Thought leaders don’t settle, don’t slow down, don’t ever reach a point in their business development where they’re satisfied and think: it doesn’t get any better than this.
There’s always more, there’s always better, there’s always something to improve, and something new to try.
That doesn’t mean perpetually reinventing the wheel and stopping doing the things that are working. Rather, it’s looking at what’s working and asking, ‘what’s next?’.
Influencer Hack: Look Beyond Your Industry…
Perhaps the easiest way of doing this is drawing inspiration from outside your industry, in order to find newer, better ways of doing things inside your industry. Really go outside the box on this one. Some of the best ideas I’ve had where marketing strategy is concerned have come from extremely disparate areas that you wouldn’t think could possibly apply. The most obvious influences come from my understanding of literature and mythology, both of which inform my approach to content creation and make it very different to what’s on offer at other marketing agencies.
So don’t just consider related industries and areas that have an obvious connection to what you do. The best way to do this is to read very widely, or follow one or two really amazing social channels across every sector you can think of. YouTube is particularly useful when you’re stupidly busy – you can watch while you’re on the train or bus, or listen while you’re doing the dishes. It’s a very fast, easy, and effective way of pushing your personal development and the development of your business, by adopting one habit you can incorporate into your day using ten minutes when you’re bored, or doing something mindless.
Invest In Innovation…
One of the best ways of demonstrating you’re a forward-thinking business is to get ahead of the curve. Thought leaders are innovators. Finding ways to work innovation into your business will do wonders for your profile. This might mean investing in better systems to improve your processes, or revamping your website so it’s as effective and inline with current marketing trends and customer needs as possible. Or it might mean working innovation into the content you create.
We’ve talked about the importance of originality, and some of the most powerful and original content revolves around unique research. When you’re working on a piece around an important topic in your industry, invest in original market research that allows you to present new perspectives, statistics, and insights that aren’t current your known in your industry.
Now only does this give you some great ‘meat’ to flesh out all the thought-leading content you’re creating, it’s a brilliant way to build your website’s SEO by creating quality backlinks, when everyone else in your industry is forced to link to your original research in order to get in on the action and use the insights and developments you’re presenting.
Influencer Hack: Develop A Business App…
Where digital marketing and content are concerned, the most powerful way to stand out is through the development of an app. There are a lot of great business benefits to creating an app, from expanding your audience to building better customer relationships, improving your engagement, and more. But a cleverly designed app is the perfect way to distinguish yourself from the competition.
It’s also the perfect way to introduce a newer, wiser way of doing things into your industry. Consider developing an app that puts a fresh spin on your client journey, that makes their experience of your products or services more effective, more efficient, more convenient, or simply more fun than your competitors.
Write A Book Worthy Of A Thought Leader…
When it comes to high-level content marketing strategies nothing beats a book. If this is a daunting prospect, start small with a short eBook you can offer up as a free lead magnet. But if you really want to take everything to the next level and show you’re serious about your originality, releasing a book is an exceptionally effective way to do it.
For one thing, a book gives you the scope and length to fully develop all of your ideas into something truly unique, that brings real, tangible value to your sector and ideal clients.
For another, there is a certain amount of gravitas commanded by the brand that has its own book published. Whether you publish under the personal name of the figure head (or heads) of your business, or release it under the name of your brand, a book is a powerful statement.
Finally, a book is basically an all-you-can-eat buffet of possibilities where business growth is concerned. From the list-building potential of offering a free chapter or two, to the launch party and all the delicious PR that comes with having a book, and the ability to earn passive income from sales, there’s nothing not to love.
Influencer Hack: Hire A Ghostwriter…
There’s an awful lot that goes into a successful book. Even if you’re a good writer, a book is a whole different ballgame where challenges are concerned. For one thing, you have specific business objectives you need your book to achieve, in terms of reach and influence, as well as attracting the right audience and feeding your marketing machine. Getting it right is crucial (and considerably harder than you might think).
You’ll need help fully developing your ideas into a coherent, powerful narrative.
Beyond that, writing a book is incredibly time consuming. In fact, it’s all-consuming.
And you’re already running (or at least managing) a business, finding time to write a book on top of that is no easy feat (trust me, I know!). It’s also an incredibly specialised skill set, that requires a lot of research, wordsmithery, and finesse, not to mention editing, proofreading, all the design work required, and an effective launch strategy.
A book is probably the one thing on this list that’s capable of positioning you as a thought leader and building your influence, all on your own. It’s a lot easier and more effective if coupled with a comprehensive content marketing plan, but if you have to choose just one item on this list, make it a book.
And make sure you do it right.
Hire a ghostwriter, work with a pro, and ensure the book you put out there is as well developed, influential, and cleverly marketed as possible.
Ghostwriting For Thought Leadership…
Whether you’re looking to release a best-selling book, create the perfect original high-level content marketing strategy, or craft a killer brand story to position your business as the hero of your industry, getting a professional ghostwriter on your team is essential.
Acrylic provide professional ghostwriting services to the businesses of Northwich, Cheshire, and the North West. To find out how getting your own ghost can help develop your business and position you as an influential thought leader, book a free consultation. You’ll get a one-to-one chat to discuss your business goals and objectives, followed up by a bespoke action plan tailored to your specific needs. All without any obligation – we’re that confident you’ll love our ideas. Sign up below now…
Our Head of Marketing, Hazel Butler, is an award-winning author, copywriter, and editor. Part ghostwriter, part blogger, part videographer, and part strategist, when she’s not endlessly penning content for our clients Hazel’s happily concocting the perfect marketing plans to propel their businesses forward.
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