Business Development Strategy
Market Leadership Strategy #1: Thought Leadership
At the start of every year I like to set out the big themes I’ll be focusing on during the year, and I share those themes in the hope that you’ll find them useful in some way.
In 2015 my big overarching theme is Market Leadership. As I’m sure you can guess, future blog posts, emails and video will focus on some of the practical details on how to achieve market leadership in your market.
This first video of 2015 looks at the first of three big strategies I believe work the best to achieve market leadership for service and information based businesses: Thought Leadership.
Hi, it’s Ian here.
At the start of every year I try to set out the big themes that I’m going to be focusing on during the year and share them with the idea that hopefully they’re useful for you.
And it’s been really gratifying to hear back over the years from people saying how it’s inspired them and they’ve focused on similar themes themselves.
Now often those themes will be very practical steps. So last year I talked about the 5 Ss of Simplicity, Speed, Systems, Scale and Sweat.
This year I’m going to focus more strategically – and I think that’s something every business needs to return to periodically as it grows.
In particular, if you’re in any type of service business or you sell online products it won’t have escaped your attention that industry after industry is becoming more competitive.
Now partially that’s because there are more competitors. But more importantly it’s because our clients now have much more visibility and access to suppliers than ever before.
It used to be that if you were a consultant or a lawyer, for example, then if you did a decent job you had a kind of little local monopoly- because it was just too much hard work for potential clients to search the market and find someone better.
Now these days of course they can just hop on the internet and find a whole host of alternative suppliers.
So as a result, business after business that used to have healthy margins and premium pricing is now finding itself commoditised and under intense price pressure.
It’s no longer enough in your marketing to generate leads and contacts with potential clients unless you can establish a market leadership position that protects you and cushions you from price competition.
Something that sets you apart from the raft of good suppliers and positions you – for the right clients – as the one they’ll be willing to pay more to work with.
Now there are many different ways you can establish market leadership but my experience is that right now there are three that are especially powerful and work really well for service and information based businesses.
The first market leadership strategy is Thought Leadership.
Now I actually thought long and hard about whether to call this strategy thought leadership or to try to come up with another name because I think the phrase thought leadership has been so misused in the last few years that it’s in danger of losing its meaning.
So when I say thought leadership I don’t mean churning out the same old articles that all your competitors have on their websites too.
You know the sort of 5 ways to win more clients, 7 traits of effective leaders, or endless “how to” blog posts that bring no new insights or ideas to the party.
What I mean is content that makes your potential clients go “wow”.
That gives them lightbulb moments: new insights and ideas, and changes the way they look at things.
So it’s ambitious content. Ideas you’ve actually had to work hard to come up with and you’ve really thought through.
Now clearly, thought leadership like that doesn’t come easy. Which is why it’s so valuable.
I’m not saying everything you write has to be earth shattering, nobel prize winning stuff. But I am saying it has to be markedly different and better to what your typical competitors are putting out.
it has to make your client step back and think “this person really knows what they’re talking about and I want to work with them”.
Now there are lots of different approaches you can take to thought leadership.
You can work on ideas and concepts than no one else has come up with before. So if you look at people like Seth Godin, Edward de Bono, Tom Peters these are people you would want to work with because of the quality of their new ideas.
Or it could be you take new ideas from a different field and show people how to apply them in yours. So in the world of online marketing Derek Halpern is famous for taking ideas from psychological research in universities and applying it to websites and online businesses.
Or you can give people new tools and practical frameworks for addressing their problems. I remember the first time I saw the way Michael Masterson applied the prospect awareness framework to writing sales copy and I was absolutely entranced and I bought the book that explained it in an instant.
Or you can create content that’s more in depth.
If you look at blog posts by Peep Laja at ConversionXL or Bryan Harris at Videofruit or Noah Kagan at OKDork then rather than half formed ideas or untested suggestions you get in-depth, multi-thousand word, rigorously researched and tested insights.
So lots of different ways of creating thought leadership. But each of them basically setting you apart from the noise that everyone else is making and establishing you as a leader in your market.
Now in tomorrows video I’m going to talk about the second market leadership strategy which is relationship leadership – so I’ll see you tomorrow.