Looking for Something?
Posts Tagged for

Thought Leadership

The Unintentional Thought Leader: Seven Steps For Small Business Blogging


When I launched Marketing Sparks three years ago, “thought leadership” was not a goal. Discuss issues I care about? Yes. Stoke my desire to write? Absolutely. Maybe even attract new business as a bonus? Of course.

Over time, though, I discovered that a certain style of writing could help position my small business blog as an authority and go-to expert. That said, I use the term “thought leadership” hesitantly and humbly—it tends to sound lofty—and there are no hard and fast rules defining it. When it comes to blogging, my definition revolves around having expertise on a topic, shedding light on issues, offering a point-of-view, and sharing innovative thinking…and doing this is easier than you might think.

Here are seven steps you can take to start your own thought leadership blog or tweak your current one to elevate your content from standard fare to superior must-read.

1. Write About Your Passion

It starts with a cliché we’ve all heard: “Write from the heart.” Nothing could be more true in a thought leadership blog. That doesn’t mean pontificating or talking down to your audience, it means sharing your interest and expertise and giving that information to your audience freely. In the process, your readers will feel smarter too. Spreading insights through a blog that excites and energizes you—the kind you can’t wait to share with the online world—is contagious, and your readers will ultimately share with their own networks.

2. Choose Your Audience and They Will Choose You

As Daniel Rasmus said, “Go vertical or go home.” Pick an area to cover and stick with it. Let’s face it, we can’t all be experts on everything, and frankly, generic information is pretty useless. Think of it as a marketing campaign: Who is your target audience? Who will care about your knowledge base? What can you offer them that they can’t get elsewhere? Once you start adding value to your audience’s professional or personal life, you will slowly be viewed as a trusted source and develop a loyal following.

3. Get A Hub With Spokes

Now that you found your audience, it’s time to stimulate, educate, and even entertain them with your expertise. The key is to write on a variety of topics from your knowledge base and cast the widest net possible. When I take on my “hub” of marketing, there are a lot of “spokes” in that wheel: I write about branding, advertising, social media, events, technology—the list goes on. I also sprinkle in a diverse range of blog styles so that unpredictability is the only thing my audience can count on. That means:

  • Opinion
  • Interviews
  • Breaking news
  • Guest blogs
  • Follow-up pieces
  • Evergreen/timeless topics (my PowerPoint alternatives blog post from two years ago still garners steady hits)

Click to tweet this quote!

4. Circle-Slash Vanilla Views 

Rehashing a trending hot topic—say, Apple’s court battle with Samsung—is more about content aggregation than delivering any meaningful insight to your readers. You might get a lot of Google hits, but are not illuminating anything new. Blogging as an authority means taking a stand and doing it authentically. One of the keys is not just to understand a topic fully, but to offer readers an alternative point of view or additional insight. In other words, content that makes your blog worth reading and stand out from the crowd. As Jessica Northey said at this year’s NMX in the  panel session How To Build Your Blog Community: Three Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets, “Tell the truth, make it matter, and never be boring.” Amen to that.

5. Do Your Homework

Having earned a living as a reporter early in my career, I’ve always had a nose for news, curiosity, and a desire to ask questions. And when my reputation is at stake, I take that very seriously—and your readers will too. They count on you to do the background and research for them. Make sure you are using the best and most current information before you hit “publish.” If an important data point is missing or there is sloppy attribution, your credibility suffers. Conversely, if you get corrections from readers, cop to it, update your blog, and even thank the person for pointing it out. We’re all mere mortals…even those gunnin’ to be a thought leader.

6. There is No “Self” In Promotion

Ever heard the old saying, “Let someone else say how great you are”? Don’t promote your business or anything that smacks of it in your blog. Readers will sniff it out and run the other way. With so many choices on the Internet to spend their precious time, readers come for new ideas and practices, not thinly-veiled or overt pitches.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t market the heck out of your blog on a regular basis: Promote it to your personal and business network, leverage your social media channels by sharing and starting conversations, and of course reciprocate with other bloggers in your field. Don’t forget to mention your blog to clients and prospects when a related topic comes up. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I have gained new clients from my blog posts. Not only do prospects get a shortcut to your knowledge and skill set, it builds instant confidence in you before you’re even hired.

7. Leadership Versus Readership

There are so many blog styles: newsy updates, opinion blogs, branded blogs, affiliate marketing blogs, mommy blogs, and on and on. Choosing to do a thought leadership blog is a quieter and narrower path—dare I say “quality over quantity.” It takes time to grow your audience and build credibility, so be patient.

For most small business owners, blogging is a “sideline” to the busy life of running a company and does not pay the bills. Yet if you stay the course on the slow but sure path, you will be rewarded handsomely in personal gratification, respect, and potentially new work.

How could your blog be changed by adding a thought leader slant? What benefits would you gain from doing so?

5 Reasons to Promote a Teleconference for B2B Sales


One of the easiest ways to connect with your current and prospective customers in real-time is to host a teleconference. This is simply a conference call in which you provide the content and a number of people listen in, and, at your discretion, participate live in the call.There are three requirements for hosting a teleconference. One, you need to have a telephone conferencing service. We use freeconferencing.com, which allows you to have up to 1000 attendees (each pays their own long distance charge). Two, you need to have a topic of real interest to your customers and prospects. And three, you need to have a simple, inexpensive way to promote attendance. That’s the social media connection!

Let’s start by looking at five reasons why you would want to launch a teleconference program.

  1. Provide timely information and advice to your current customers.

    In a teleconference, you can provide up-to-date information of interest to your customers. This information may come from you, your employees, or invited experts that you interview during the call. It might be new sales ideas, new regulatory issues, new opportunities, new threats – anything timely that will attract your customers’ attention. Keep in mind that all of the employees of your customer companies are part of your potential audience.

  2. Attract potential new customers.

    When you promote a teleconference, people from companies that are not currently your customers will sign up. The information you gather from their sign-up will let you know a little bit about them and their company (don’t ask for too much – only what you really want to know) and give you a reason to reach out to them.

  3. Build your ‘thought leader’ reputation online.

    Becoming known as a ‘producer’ is a big step towards thought leadership. You are taking the lead in defining a topic, setting a date and time, and promising a worthwhile presentation. This step alone sets you apart from many of your competitors. Do this on a predictable schedule, and you will become known for it.

  4. Build an online archive of interviews.

    I’ve found that sometimes only half of the people who registered actually attend the call live. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interested – only that the day-to-day realities prevent them from meeting this kind of obligation. Record your calls and make them available on your website. In no time you will have an impressive archive; people who registered but couldn’t attend will download the file, and new people will find the recordings.

  5. Publish transcripts as white papers.

    It’s not hard or expensive to have your audio call turned into a written transcript. I use the service castingwords.com to transcribe audio calls. Their budget service (which means no rush on their side) is only 75 cents per minute, so you can get a 60-minute call transcribed for $45. With minimal editing and formatting required on your part, you can begin to publish written transcripts of your teleconferences on your website and also have them available to attach to emails or other correspondence with current or prospective customers.

So, there are five reasons why I advocate this practice. Now, here’s the social media connection. How will you promote your teleconferences? How will you get people to come? Well, that’s why you need to cultivate a social media presence for your B2B company. You can invite participants through the primary sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The more you do, the more connections you will have and the stronger your reach will become.

This strategy will not work without your efforts to build a social media presence. So, one more reason to get started or to keep it going! What do you think? Have you tried this strategy? How is it working for you? Or what would hold you back?

Learn About NMX


Recent Comments