It’s easy to think the success or failure of your company lies solely in the quality of your goods and services. Yes, top-notch products are key to getting consumer in the door, and they are undoubtedly the lifeblood of your business when starting out. But ask any truly successful CEO, and you’ll discover there’s a lot more to business than just making the sale. Beyond a one-time transaction, you must think about the long haul. How do you keep customers coming back? How can they help you spread your message?
Statistics show that it costs 5x more to find a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer. This means that, second to product, customer loyalty may be the most important aspect of a thriving business. When a consumer trusts your company, he or she is willing to recommend it to a friend. When customers believe in the vision and values your business, they keep you top-of-mind when they’re in need of your services again.
What is Thought Leadership?
One of the most effective ways for brands and businesses to increase loyalty and trust with their audiences is through strong thought leadership. If you’ve never heard of this concept before, it’s basically a form of content marketing that leverages your own professional authority, talent or experience to build your brand equity. Whether you’re a computer repair shop, hair salon, or restaurant, you have expertise in a specific interest area. And your potential clients and consumers have questions. Lots of them.
By providing your customers with free, quality content, you can answer questions that others cannot, and you can be an authoritative voice that people value and follow. You can stay in the conversation even after a customer has left and can remain a quality resource when they return.
By providing your customers with free, quality content, you can answer questions that others cannot, and you can be an authoritative voice that people value and follow.
Thought leadership can come in a variety of forms. With free online tools and resources, you can become a trusted leader, and your business will gain a wider, deeper reach than ever before. Here are just a few free, easy ways you can start being a thought leader:
Start A Blog
Adding a blog component to your website can be the perfect place to build out your thoughts on a particular matter. If your company is constantly asked a particular question, this can be the place to explain your answer. It will not only save time in the future, but it will reach far beyond your particular customers and clients.
Blogs are social, casual spaces for you to develop your digital brand. You may want to use your blog to interview other professionals in the industry (like coiski does), or even ask the experts within your company to voice their opinions on a recent relevant topic. Buda Dental Professionals, for example, uses its blog to showcase and report on its many nonprofit involvements. And if writing’s not your thing, make a video blog (vlog) or podcast.
There is no “right” way to blog – just keep it casual, informational and relevant to your customers’ needs. You’ll be amazed at how easy and fun it can be for you and your business.
Give Away Free Stuff
You might think this one’s a little crazy. “Give away free stuff!? How can you make money by giving away free products and services?” Think of giveaways as investments into future customers. By providing free consultations or services, you are basically telling your potential consumers that you value them, even before they paid a dime for your products.
A lawyer, for example, could give away free legal advice or set up a free half-hour consultation. This form of thought leadership will provide a customer with a strong sense of loyalty that could come back in the form of recommendations or returning for a paid visit. Likewise, digital media consultants could release free graphics or videos via a newsletter every so often, both showcasing their high quality product and showing a genuine care for their consumers.
Interact on Social Media
One of the most effective ways to become a thought leader is by being active on social media. This doesn’t mean you need to be tweeting your every move as a company. In fact, over communicating on social media can often be a one major pitfall for brands. You just have to make every tweet or update count. You can do this by focusing less on sales and transactions, and more on asking questions and listening. When you provide thoughtful, interesting feedback on social media, customers are more willing to listen and think of you as a thought leader.
No matter what business you’re in, your customers are already active in these spaces and have many questions about your industry, whether they realize it or not. As a business, you can tweet out valuable information about your industry, such as relevant news or interesting tips. With rich interaction options, like Facebook Live or Twitter chats, you can ask questions and get instant results. Likewise, you can answer any questions consumers may have and truly get a sense of what people think about your business. In some industries, it can be beneficial to ask your employees to have active and relevant social media accounts. Especially if you’re in a media or customer service profession, audiences find these platforms more convenient.
There are many ways to become a thought leader in the digital age, but the purpose remains the same: share your knowledge. Be proud of what you know as a business and what you’ve learned over the years. Contrary to what you might think, people want to hear your experiences. Be the authority, and help people out. By building this thought-leadership repertoire now, you are investing in your brand equity and will begin to see major growth in the future.