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A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Thought Leadership at Your Firm

Are you properly leveraging your expertise and the experience of your team? Building a thought leadership program is key to establishing your team as the go-to experts in your sector and ensuring that clients and candidates know that they can trust you in their career or talent search. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting started with thought leadership.

1. Identify Your Thought Leaders

One of the first major challenges to building thought leadership is identifying the leaders you should be promoting. While it would be nice to establish everyone on your team as thought leaders, there are some hurdles you need to overcome. First, thought leaders need to have some history to build their credibility. Yes, you’re going to be promoting them and building credibility but it’s easier to start with one of your team who is already established in your industry.

Second, narrowing down the number of leaders that you’re promoting helps cut down on noise. Even if your team is talking about separate topics, your audience has a limited attention span. Any distractions from the leader you want to put forward are competition, don’t be your own competition.

Choosing the right leaders at your firm can also help set up other employees to build their reputation. When they have the chance to engage with established thought leaders and have a dialogue, others will start to recognize them as a reputable voice in their field.

2. Create Valuable Content

The two important things to remember when creating thought leadership content is to focus on the value your content provides and to know what kind of leader your firm is. When making educational content, it can be a bit counter-intuitive but thought leadership content should never try to make a sale. You are providing your expertise to help your clients and candidates solve their challenges. By avoiding sales-focused language, you create a more personal connection and establish your firm as the place to turn for expert advice.

Choosing the type of thought leadership you should focus on is also critical. The three main focuses are industry, product, and organizational thought leadership. Not only should you consider where your firm’s expertise lies, but also where there are gaps in your industry. If you have unmatched experience in your field, industry thought leadership allows you to showcase that and share experiences that others don’t have. If you’ve built an innovative product or process, then you focus on product thought leadership. Finally, if your organizational culture stands head and shoulders above the rest, showcasing how you built that culture gives your audience useful information for their own companies.

There is no rule saying you can’t focus on multiple topics, but when you are starting a new thought leadership program and you have limited resources and time, focusing on the topic that you can add the most value to should be your goal. The more you specialize, the easier it is to set your team and your firm apart as leaders and experts on topics relevant to your audience.

3. Know Where to Promote

When you invest time and money into thought leadership, it’s important to make sure you are reaching your audience where they spend their time. If your ideal clients and candidates spend their time on LinkedIn, articles and videos will reach them best there. If you’re trying to reach the people who come to your website, blogs, ebooks, and other videos posted on your site should do the job.

The nice part of promoting thought leadership in multiple places is you can repurpose content and save yourself some work. If you put together a great eBook, you can break that down into smaller pieces for blogs or LinkedIn articles. From there you can create simple videos with more bite-sized pieces of information. Once you know where your audience spends their time, adapting your thought leadership content to catch their eyes is critical, but as we’ve outlined here, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each piece of content.

4. Measure the Impact and Return

Just like any part of your business, successful thought leadership must be measured to properly see the returns and any adjustments that need to be made. The difference is connecting the insights you measure from your thought leadership program with the normal KPIs. Measuring things like post views and engagements on LinkedIn or pageviews on your website and connecting them with the leads that come in can show the returns of your thought leadership.

You can also see the results of thought leadership development by tracking other types of interactions related to your expertise. The number of invitations to join advisory boards, speaking engagements, and even mentorship are also trademarks of increased thought leadership awareness.

Although the communications you publish aren’t directly geared towards sales, developing your team as thought leaders will go a long way to helping you secure more business. By positioning yourself and your team as thought leaders you don’t have to sell; clients and candidates will seek you out instead.

If you’re not sure where to start or how to build thought leadership into your existing marketing, my team would love to chat. Contact us today and learn how we help staffing and recruiting companies get more clients and candidates with effective digital marketing.

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