Everyone wants to be known as an expert in their respective industry – that’s a no brainer. But how do you get there? While there are many ways to elevate a brand and its executive thought leadership, there are some simple steps that you can take to really elevate a thought leadership program.
This may seem like an obvious first step, but sometimes you need to take a step back to look at your company and personal story to find what’s compelling. What will the media, colleagues, investors and everyone else really care about and want to read?
If you want people to take notice of your brand and your story, dig down and pull out the most compelling aspects. Are you self-funded? Do you have other interests outside of your company? Did you come out of retirement to lead an innovative company? Does your company have a female CEO? Think about what makes your brand truly unique and use that to craft a compelling story that people want to hear.
Alternatively, take it beyond just your own company product and brand – speak about the broader industry. For example, our client Kevin Hrusovsky, CEO of Quanterix, carries his own personal passion of precision medicine beyond just the company. Quanterix is digitizing biomarker analysis to advance precision health and Kevin founded Powering Precision Health, a movement that represents the intersection of new technological capabilities and the latest medical research. Through this program, Kevin has made it his mission to transform sick care to true preventative healthcare. Understanding the story and your passion is key to crafting a compelling and unique message and elevating your thought leadership.
Don’t just repeat what is being said in your own industry. Be a true thought leader and have something innovative and unique to add to the conversation. When sharing your ideas, don’t be afraid to “color outside the lines” and take risks with your thoughts. Thought leaders that think outside the box and have unique ideas are among the top in their industry. A great example of this is Steve Jobs. There’s not a person in the U.S. that doesn’t recognize that name. Steve was known for pushing the industry beyond what everyone thought was capable and wasn’t afraid to ask questions and prompt people to think differently.
On a more granular level, our client Gordon Styles, founder and CTO of Star Rapid, a low-volume manufacturing and rapid prototyping company based in China, is a great example of borrowing from personal experience. Gordon shares his own experiences to add a fresh perspective on Chinese manufacturing and his work in the industry. He often dispels the common notions about Chinese manufacturing to share his experience operating a Western-style company in China that produces high-quality products with a great customer experience.
Be active on social media and engage with your followers. Social media is a great platform to share your story, explain your viewpoints and engage with your audience. It’s more than just pushing out your own company content – share industry news and provide a unique point of view as well.
Also, don’t be afraid to be personal on social media. Twitter and Instagram are the perfect platforms to share company summer outings or company perks. If you’re trying to amplify a CXO’s thought leadership, it’s nice to see a personal touch ever so often so followers get an authentic look at who they really are. Going back to Quanterix, Kevin is a huge Ohio State fan, so we often encourage him to incorporate his love for the Buckeyes in his social media posts when they win a big game, or when he visits the campus. Including those personal touches can make a big difference in engagement as thought leaders come off as ‘real’ people.
Finally, platforms like LinkedIn articles are a great way to share your own ideas. If there’s a topic that a CXO feels strongly about and wants to share their personal message, LinkedIn is.
It can be tempting to only want to be in mainstream press or speaking at the largest well-known conferences. However, it’s often more critical to speak to a niche, engaged audience. In fact, you can see a better ROI. While mainstream press is an important piece of increasing your thought leadership, it’s just one piece of the entire puzzle. Ensuring your message and company is placed in front of a targeted audience includes local and trade press. This is often where thought leaders see the best results as they’re speaking to potential customers or consumers that are seeking out the exact information they are sharing.
This is also true for speaking engagements. The CES’s and SXSW’s of the world are extremely well known and well received, however it’s equally, if not more important to also speak at the local and trade events. When you’re speaking about a technical topic, going the route of a trade event is going to give you a notable level of traction.
While it’s important to connect and network via social media, in-person networking is vital. Going beyond the screen to connect in person, shake hands and have those personal interactions can go a long way to increase your thought leadership. To raise brand awareness for an entire company, encourage everyone at any level to attend networking events. Simply getting the company name out in your local region and exchanging business cards is a great way to increase a brand’s thought leadership and awareness.
While it’s not an exact science, these tips will help to kick off a great thought leadership program. Increasing thought leadership is an ever-moving target so it’s important to keep ideas fresh and be fluid to keep up with changing times. Also, don’t forget to have fun and be creative.
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