As you create or grow your brand, you may find yourself thinking of new products, services, processes or mergers—those that will expand your offerings, and therefore your brand.
However, there’s something that you may be overlooking. You can sell more than tangible and visible “things” to increase your profit margins. There’s also the unique knowledge that you hold within your own mind—the ideas you’ve fabricated and the conclusions you’ve adopted based on your own experiences. Thought Leadership, a function of intellectual property, is the latest and greatest commodity being offered by those brands striving to break away and run ahead.
So what kind of thing can sponsor your brand’s movement toward thought leadership? Things like…
- the results of case studies, polls and surveys you’ve conducted
- first-hand experimental findings
- best-practice wisdom obtained through your own experiences
- systems you have developed to save time and/or money
- the people you know and the connections that will benefit your clients
Do you have at least one of these things? Good. Let’s move on to learn how you can use it to your brand’s advantage.
Thought Leadership, and what it can do for your Brand
Who should be interested in exploring the benefits of thought leadership? Well, there isn’t really a brand that can’t benefit from having a treasury of knowledge at its disposal; however, there are some particular instances in which intellectual property provides a lot of leverage. Here are a few of those instances:
- during the implementation of a growth strategy…to get a leg up on the competition
- when market leadership is needed…to demonstrate expertise and gain pivotal trust
- at times when accountability is key…to recover from negative feedback
- when clients are craving a different kind of engagement…to mix things up a bit
It can be difficult for business leaders to adopt this type of transparent communication model, in which they give consumers a view into their operations and thought processes…and ultimately an invitation to scrutinise their practices. However, if you start small, I think you’ll see the benefit and you may actually want to market even more intellectual property…to build a brand with thought leadership.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- If you have a different way of doing business, or a unique way of thinking about something traditional, then share it. Do you do something better than the competition? And is that something fuelled by a way of doing business that is unconventional? Have you been told this technique “isn’t right,” but nevertheless, it seems to be working like a charm? Well then, you have stumbled upon (or intentionally created) something that could be used to establish your brand as a thought leader (and market leader). Share this information with people whom you believe will be most intensely interested in it, engage in some disruptive marketing and own it as your “brain child.”
- Hire the best people and showcase them. If you have the chance, or can create the chance, to hire someone who is highly respected in the field in which you work, then do it. This person, who is revered for his or her intellectual property, will be an asset for your brand, boosting perceptions of value and expertise, as well as creating something intangible and coveted—something you can convert to a marketable product.
- Align your brand with thought leaders. Who do your ideal customers flock to when they need help (besides you)? Whom do they trust? And who has the final word in their minds? This person has huge thought leadership power, and with the right partnership, that power could grow and benefit your brand, too. Explore these kinds of opportunities thoroughly, and don’t forget to add value from your brand to potential thought leadership partners.
- Avoid divulging every piece of intellectual property you own. This isn’t about being miserly in your service; it is, however, about cherry-picking those pieces of information that will directly benefit your ideal customers, and endear them to your brand. Keep in mind your brand promise, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), the experience you want to create, the perceptions you want to shape …and deliver that knowledge to your target audience.
- Know your limitations before you market your knowledge. Your knowledge in any particular area may be limited, but still valuable to those who need it. Make sure you know where you sit on the spectrum of knowledge and avoid marketing your intellectual property to those who know more than you. Is your thought leadership perfect for beginners? Or for intermediates? Know where you belong, so that you can make an impact.
- Sharpen your public speaking skills—and use them. The best way to demonstrate your expertise and share your intellectual property, for the good of your brand, is to put yourself in front of your target audience and talk to them. Find trade shows, conventions and other industry events that cater to your ideal customers. Become a regular voice (and face) at these events, and your brand will move toward harnessing more and more mindshare with its thought leadership.
- Serve customers with thought leadership. In our current market, selling is less about selling than it is about serving. And what better way to serve your ideal customers than with knowledge? You have it. They want it. Give advice, get business. It really is that simple…and important. You can accomplish this through writing blogs, conducting webinars, uploading video, sending service-focussed emails, posting helpful information on social media and more.
- Engage with a PR firm. Few business owners have the connections that a PR (Public Relations) manager has, and to overlook the value of those connections is to miss thought leadership opportunities. Do your brand a favour: hire a PR manager who knows how to put your intellectual property in the hands of those who will promote and advocate for your brand.
Do you think adding a thought leadership plan to your branding strategy sounds like your next logical move? Or are you unsure? Are you concerned about copyright laws and how you can protect your intellectual property? How to Build a Brand offers one-on-one consultation and guidance through the B.R.A.N.D. Accelerator programme, and this could be just the thing your brand needs to get ahead. Check it out today.