While creating authentic, authoritative and informative content is essential to establish Thought Leadership, we need to be able to distribute it to a large audience. This post takes a look at a three-pronged approach to sharing great content created by you.
- Company Blog:
It is general knowledge that a blog on the website drives traffic. If the blog is educative or informative without being sales oriented, it can bring fresh traffic to your website and keep current customers coming back for meaningful, first-hand insights. Done right, a blog is an effective marketing tool to promote the business. Apart from driving traffic to the website, it also increases your sales and establishes you as an authority in the industry. All it takes is some time for writing, and quality content, preferably experiential.
Ideally, the blog should aim to either solve a problem for your customers or provide examples of problems solved. A great strategy can also be to answer the frequently asked questions.
The content can reach a vast network if the blogs are easily shareable by the reader on popular social media platforms.
- Contributing to Media:
Many media houses accept and publish articles written by industry experts as a way to add an ‘insider’ perspective to their publications.These articles, however, need to be neutral and need to be informative. These will reach the reader base of the publication (who may not have heard of you). It is well worth the effort to create and submit articles – usually referred to as authored or bylined articles to business or industry publications. It is an excellent PR strategy and positions you as a Subject Matter Expert.
- Building content on LinkedIn Pulse:
Posts published on LinkedIn become a part of your professional profile and they go a long way in building credibility. They are shared with your network and reach the large group of professionals. LinkedIn allows people to follow you even if they are not in your network, increasing the reach of your posts. LinkedIn enhances your visibility & credibility. A great way to drive additional traffic to your website is to write a summary of the blog and share it on your profile with a link to your website.
Related: Who is a Thought Leader? What is Thought Leadership Marketing?
A few aspects can be kept in mind:
- Content needs to provide insights to the reader. It can be best practices or what customers / prospective customers may be asking for.
- Keep the Language simple with least use of jargon.
- Maximise the reach of the articles/blog posts by sharing them on your social platforms.
- Maximise by repurposing them as infographics, or e-books which are downloadable.
It was our pleasure to meet Alicia Souza at the art exhibition of Balraj KN. We had the pleasure of having a long chat with her, made more comfortable by the easy and relaxed setting of the event.
The best kind of job in the world is when you get paid to do something you absolutely love.
She considers herself lucky, though a sizable part of her job is not illustrating, but also managing the business. It involves talking to clients, accounts, working on briefs that are not always exciting. She says sometimes she needs to draw even when she truly just doesn’t feel like it. Being a commercial illustrator, she needs to work with both her heart and also her head. When it comes to working with clients and making a brief work, it is a lot of the latter. She realised that it’s a business where she needs to make money and also build her career.
When I asked her for an interview, she very graciously accepted. Below are the excerpts from both the interaction and her responses:
1. How did you start a career as an illustrator? Was this by default or by design?
I was trained as a graphic designer but the minute I finished university, I knew I wanted to get into illustration. There were a lot of twisty turns before I actually landed up as a freelancing illustrator, something that I didn’t think was ever going to happen.
2. You have been an entrepreneur for the last couple of years, describe your journey thus far
It’s been exciting, challenging, scary and extremely satisfying. It’s truly been a roller coaster ride.
Starting out is always a bit hard. I created a niche by just doing and doing a lot of it. I can almost compare it to digging a hole. When you start digging, it’s too small to notice but if you keep at it, you have a hole that only you’re standing it and more people can see it. I had to keep doing a lot of things that I wasn’t too keen on doing, like talking about money or drawing things that aren’t exactly my cup of tea. Same with the business/online store. I think I got lucky with the online store because I have a partner who keeps me on my toes. It took a lot of self-convincing because I really wasn’t sure I could handle another responsibility. But I could! So sometimes taking risks also pay off.
It’s been exciting, challenging, scary and extremely satisfying. It’s truly been a roller coaster ride.
3. Your illustrations are based on a narrative/story, what inspires you?
I think I draw things like I would write in a diary. Just thoughts, events, happenings and feelings that I have throughout my day. I guess that’s why it is what it is. So anything happening in my life or things that I see and do are my inspiration.
4. Do designers also have a block (like the writer’s block)? (if so) How does a designer get over it?
I think if you do it enough, it’s almost habitual so you don’t get blocks. But you definitely get moods. Sometimes you feel like drawing way more than other times. Everyone has their method of madness to get over the ‘nahhh’ feelings. I just do other productive things and mostly deadlines help force you into the mood even if you don’t feel like it. Sometimes just a walk in the park helps.
5. I’ve read in one of your posts that you are self-taught, what is your method of learning?
I learn by doing and doing a lot. If you’re not learning about illustrating, you’re learning about how to schedule projects, the most efficient way to do a job or about people in general.
6. Your body of work comes across as ‘Happy’ and you as a happy person. Are there times when you are sad, or unhappy and just want to shut the world out? How do you deal with sadness?
Like any human, I have a wealth of emotions. I don’t feel sadness as much as I get angry. When something bad happens in the world, someone passes away, horror-stricken event, whatever the calamity, I tend to feel rage rather than melancholy.
Having said that, I do have sad streaks. And unlike some artists and writers who can create beautiful works from those emotions, I don’t even remotely feel like drawing then. Please note that sadness is very different from depression. I’m talking about the general sadness that sneaks in every now and then. Here are a few things I do when I get in this state:
- Do whatever I feel like doing- I would rarely feel like drawing but I truly enjoy just inking pencil sketches and would scout out drawings that are yet to be inked. This is my sort of ‘peace’ and ‘meditation’ that gets my brain almost still without thought.
- Play my favourite music- I ADORE country music, I listen to it both when I’m happy and also when I’m sad.
- Confront the sadness- I don’t like leaving things in the air. If I had a tiff with someone, I clear it up. With people, it’s easy to just take a deep breath and confront the source of the sadness.
- Time- And then there are things you don’t have control over that just need time to get better. Understand that things DO get better with time.
- A box of you- Another thing is knowing what you like and makes you happy. I sometimes like cleaning or baking. Sometimes just getting away for a while. Or getting a pedicure.
- Let yourself be- I think it’s ok to be sad sometimes. It’s even normal. Whether you need to shed a tear or two. Be nice to yourself and I think the worst thing would be to beat yourself up about being a little down. When you know it’s ok to be sad, you can let yourself be happy.
Oh! I forgot to mention, sometimes happiness is a sleep away. Literally, some days can just be a drag and understand that when you go to bed at night; so when you wake up the next day, the sun is shining brighter just for you!
Charlie is Happy. And Adorable. Image credit: @the.aliciasouza
7. What is your advice to a budding designer, who wants to pursue a career in design?
For design, it’s to learn the basics before you explore. For illustrators, it’s just to draw and draw some more.
8. You are a celebrity & an Influencer, what is your opinion about influencer marketing? (Please detail this)
I’m really particular about what I post on my social media platforms. I’m really picky about promoting and if I do, I make sure it’s a product I like or a service I believe in, or I politely decline. When I do allow for promotion on my posts, I make sure my audience is aware that I’m working with the company and I have a limit of how many posts I allow to be promoted in a given time frame. I also always write the text content that goes along with posts. This, I believe, makes for real-ness and respect. I respect my audience, their time and their attention.
I respect my audience, their time and their attention.
9. You mentioned that you endorse/write about the products/services you use or what you truly believe in, can you please detail it for our readers?
Like I mentioned, I only post when I’ve had a chance to interact with a product or know about the service enough to talk about it. Everything I post about is something I experienced and so it’s very important that it’s the same with the promotions I make as well.
10. You are a pet parent, what is your message to other pet parents? (People keep abandoning their pets once they get old or when they are unwell…)
The only message I have to a pet parent is that your pet is the non-human child you brought into your family. Treat them like your own.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Please do so 🙂
Get enough sleep 🙂
You might have come across the term Thought Leader in big events, the media, newspapers or websites. But Who is a Thought Leader? What does he do? You’ve probably heard people saying Bill Gates is a Thought Leader or Steve Jobs is a Thought Leader. Does that mean you have to build a multi-billion dollar organisation to become one?
Well, not exactly. Although, that is one way to go about it.
Who is a Thought Leader? What does a Thought Leader Do?
A Thought Leader is a reliable, informed Opinion Leader and a go-to person in his/her field of expertise or domain. He/She is a trusted source of information and guidance, who moves and inspires people with innovative ideas, turns ideas into reality. He/She works, not just for the benefit of his organisation, but for the betterment of the domain and the entire eco-system. They address and solve some of the biggest problems faced by the eco-system.
Thought Leaders can be an individual, a group or an organisation.
Are You a Thought Leader?
Well, it’s a simple checklist.
- Are you making a difference to the community/ecosystem?
- Do you have revolutionary/break-through ideas?
- Do startups, business owners, media or people at large, seek your guidance/consultation in a particular field?
- Are you called upon to solve large problems?
- Do you inspire people/organisations to make a difference to the community/ecosystem?
If you have a few of these checked, chances are, you’re a Thought Leader.
What is Thought Leadership Marketing?
Thought Leadership Marketing is the craft of positioning yourself or your organization as a constant source of guidance, innovation, and compelling, reliable content, thereby attaining the status of a Thought Leader.
How to Become a Thought Leader?
A word of caution, this does not happen overnight. It is a long, persistent effort. But the journey is always rewarding for you and the organisation. One sure way is through Thought Leadership Marketing. Your company can be viewed in the same way by creating content that resonates with your customers and members of your industry.
One sure way is through Thought Leadership Marketing. There are 5 aspects to it.
- Great Branding – How you position yourself/your organisation is paramount
- Content Marketing – forms the base of all the other activities
- Public Relations – Because a media person is vouching for your idea
- Social Media – A potent one-to-many platform
- Events – An effective method of connecting with people and gaining trust and credibility
Great Branding (Personal or Company)-
How you position your organisation is everything. It addresses your brand’s mission, it’s goals, it’s domain, it’s target audience and it’s USP. This is the first thing that needs to be done as it sets hygiene in place and it becomes the foundation for all the other activities. People need to know who they are dealing with and what they believe in.
They say ‘Content is King’. I know, I know. It’s cliched. But it never gets old because it’s true. Your content drivers all your other activities. What people seek from you is information, consistently. There’s not getting around that. It is one of the most effective ways to convey your value proposition, your contributions, and your mission.
People underestimate the value of public relations. It is Earned Media and it demands reverence. A journalist’s credibility is on the line when they write something, and they have a huge expectation from the publication and their readers to give them credible, compelling information. Getting covered in the right publication could be one of the most valuable additions in your Thought Leadership Marketing Campaign.
Social Media is an affordable platform to reach a vast majority of your target audience (depending on your domain). It is probably the easiest way to get your message across the masses. It goes without saying that the social media posts need to be interesting. Quora, Reddit, and some other forums go a long way in establishing your value. (We advise a word of caution when using social media because you are accountable for what you say.)
Nothing beats meeting your peers, followers face to face. It establishes a connect unlike any other. Finding a speaking slot at relevant events and delivering a meaningful, relevant speech can be extremely effective in certifying your domain expertise. When you deliver one good speech, people tend to invite you for more speaking slots.
But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. It is a thought leaders duty to work towards the betterment of the domain and the eco-system.
If you found this blog useful, we would love to have a conversation with you and hear about it. If I have missed out something, please feel free to write it in the comments section.
How to practice Public Relations, an effective Influencer Marketing tool
Wikipedia defines Public Relations as ‘The practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organisation and the public’.
Simply put, PR is getting media to write stories or articles about your company, products and services on a positive note so that your prospects get to know about it. These stories or articles are not paid for.
The stories get written when the reporters get to know you and your company and see the value your products and services can provide to their readers. A good reporter will also research on his own, to ensure that their readers get authentic information.
PR is an effective influencer marketing tool for quite a few reasons:
Newspaper reading is habit forming. Most people tend to stick to a certain publication. They form their preferences for reporters and feel that if the reporter is writing about your company, you must be doing something worthwhile. Media and reporters rank highly as Influencers. It is the credibility of the publication and the reporter which makes the article authentic.
PR has high credibility – Tweet that.
PR has a greater shelf life – longevity. An article gets shared and referred to if it strikes a chord in the reader.
PR has a wide reach – Sometimes, your story which appeared in a local publication might get picked up by a trade publication or national media and get wide visibility.
PR is almost free – The cost incurred is for the resources. It is the manpower and time dedicated to researching the right kind of publications and getting to know the reporters of those publications. An investment made also to create content to be shared with them.
There are also spends – for hiring a good PR consultant, to create ‘news-worthy’ stories, press releases dissemination, to meet and greet media etc.
PR is also called Earned media. It helps establish you and your company as subject matter experts. It helps create awareness among prospective customers who read about your company in media.
How can a start-up or an SME practice Public Relations?
Great PR requires creativity, careful planning & persistent effort – Tweet that.
You don’t need to be a large corporation to invest in Public Relations. Even a start-up or an SME can practice PR by following the steps listed below:
A simple approach to practice PR:
- Get a good understanding of the publications and reporters that write about your industry.
- Read the articles/stories written by the reporter you are pursuing. If you like his stories, let him know by either writing a mail or commenting online about it. Follow him/her on social media. Share the article with your prospective customers if relevant.
- If you have a good idea for an article, create a short but concise note on the idea and reach out to a reporter. There is a possibility that your story idea will be turned down. Try to find out the reason and improve your pitch for the next idea. You may succeed eventually and the same reporter might end up treating you as a source of reliable information on an ongoing basis.
- Most reporters work against a tight timeline. If and when the reporter reaches out to you for a story or a quote, be sensitive to timelines. If, for some reason you are unable to provide the information, keep the reporter informed in advance.
- Be persistent without being a pest. Understand what’s the right time to call the reporter. Know his pressures and be of help.
- Remember to thank a reporter when he writes about you or your company. Share the article on your social platforms. Share it with every stakeholder to ensure it reaches everyone that matters.
PR can be more effective then advertising. PR is an effort intensive but high return marketing tool.
We provide PR as a service or provide consulting service to ensure quick and definite results!
Your product or service might be the best in the world, even then it is not necessary that people believe you when you talk about it. However if a satisfied customer refers you to 10 or 15 of his friends who are also business owners and if most of them buy your product, then it is a testimony to how great the product truly is!
Let me introduce you to H V Shiva Kumar, Proprietor of Geetha’s, an 18-year-old multi-brand inner-wear outlet on DVG road, Bangalore. He is an Opinion Leader among the retailers on DVG road – one of the older, traditional markets in Bangalore. Shiva Kumar is convinced that his usage of technology – Tally, is making him look like a ‘Guru’. According to him, Tally is taking him one step closer to his dream of being a profitable retailer who is looked up to by the brands he is working with.
His position as an authority – a ‘Guru’ gets confirmed when other retailers seek his advice.
His firm belief is that a businessman, that too a retailer has to grow with the help of technology in today’s highly competitive environment.
Why Shiva Kumar refers so many businesses to Tally?
To be clear, we asked Shiva Kumar the reason for referring so many businesses (to the software he uses) and he gave us the reason:
- He was happy with the value Tally had given him and he was sure it can help his fellow retailers.
- He was creating a community of Business (Tally) users who can support each other with the usage of the product.
- By doing so the dependency on the Technology company will reduce and they will be self-sufficient (as a community).
- His status as an expert in Business and Inventory management gets established among peers and also with the brands he represents.
We subsequently came across a retailer in HSR layout (Rangalakshmi & Sons) who was also introduced to Tally by Shiva Kumar, via a Connector* – in this case, a sales executive of an innerwear brand.
One of the beneficiaries, in this case, is also Chethan Kumar of Infolink Business Care, a sales & solution partner of the software company, who is servicing Geetha’s for many years. Says Chethan, “Once Mr. Shiva Kumar refers a customer, I only have to install the product, there is no need for lengthy demos or negotiation. I wish I had more customers like him”.
What Is Social Proof?
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people imitate the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour for a given situation.
Simply explained social proof is the need of an individual to check out a restaurant on Zomato or go through the review on amazon before making a purchase decision. It is to see if someone else has already done what one considers doing.
Have you considered going for a show just by seeing a long line of people waiting to get into a theatre? Have you ever tried to plant your friends among the audience to simulate laughter at a Humorous speech contest? In that case, you will intuitively know what Social proof is!
Why would a business owner like Shiva Kumar go out of his way to refer a technology product to a fellow retailer? Why does the retailer buy without negotiating? The explanation is quite simple – if Shiva Kumar, an influencer and someone who’s seen as a progressive business owner, has to recommend a product risking his credibility, there must be some merit in what he says! And that is what convinces the retailer to buy…
The explanation is quite simple – if Shiva Kumar, an influencer and a progressive business owner, has to recommend a product risking his credibility. People tend to think that there must be some merit in what he says! And that is what convinces the retailer to buy…
A recommendation from an Influencer reduces the sales cycle! – Tweet that
Influencer marketing is a subject we understand very well. Call us or mail us today, for more information on how we can help.
* Connectors are people who have incredibly widespread “social networks.” They are often successful businessmen or politicians and play an integral role in the spread of ideas.
In this case, the person is a sales person, who due to his profession, is in touch with a large number of retailers. Read more about Connectors in Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point.