With each year, marketers seem to become more sophisticated, finding innovative ways to capture customer attention. As competition heats up between brands, companies must find a way to reach customers without blatantly marketing to them. They usually incorporate a combination of social media and search engine marketing techniques to try to build brand awareness.
One of the most effective ways to stand out from the crowd is to establish thought leadership within a specific industry. This is especially true for service-based businesses whose advice is in demand. Your years of expertise give you an edge when building an online presence for your business. Here are a few ways sharing your knowledge can help establish you as a thought leader in your industry and attract customers.
Sure, you can cram your content with interesting keywords, but if it’s just a marketing message about your great services, customers won’t click. Google likely won’t see it as informative content, either. The best way to attract attention to what you’re doing is to post content that answers questions customers are likely to have. A plumber may notice that a certain percentage of customers need help with basic plumbing issues like unclogging a toilet. A simple blog post can provide content for a search term commonly entered by potential customers.
House renovator Shane Conlan used YouTube to provide advice on how to do basic projects around the house. Called “DIY for Knuckleheads,” Conlan’s YouTube channel has more than 5.4 million hits, introducing him to a large customer base that wouldn’t know of him otherwise. Your channel doesn’t have to go viral to get this kind of attention, though. You can create interesting how-to pieces to share on local Facebook community pages or on your own online platforms. Over time, local customers will share with their own friends and family members, and you’ll find you’re gaining customers.
As Justin Morgan, CEO of Dental Marketing Guy, explains, timing is everything in marketing. Businesses have traditionally blasted mass mailings to their target demographic, first through the postal system and later through email. The goal of these campaigns is to capture the small percent of recipients who just happen to be looking for the services being offered when they receive the mailing.
Thought leaders utilize the power of search engine placement to reach those customers in similar ways. A medical practice could reach local patients by regularly posting blog content about specific medical conditions. Those nearby searching for information on a disease or its symptoms will likely be referred to the blog post by search engines, and they will seek to learn more about the expert who shared the information.
To ensure its search results remain as useful as possible, Google constantly tweaks its algorithms to recognize information consumers want to read. One way it does this is through promoting sites that have multiple links coming to it from legitimate sources. When a website links to something you’ve posted, chances are the information is something that can be seen as a valuable resource and Google rewards this.
One way to increase inbound links to your site is to stock your blog with content that can be easily cited by others in your industry. But an easier way is to find ways to guest post on external sources that let you link back to your own site. Volunteer to write for publications within your industry in exchange for allowing a link in your bio. You can also ask colleagues to switch guest blog opportunities, which will not only help you with a link, but it will also expose you to each other’s existing audiences.
In addition to directly bringing customers over, thought leadership also helps strengthen your brand reputation. Marketing expert Neil Patel states two important questions brands should ask before they offer free advice:
The underlying goal should be to learn as much as possible about your customers and tailor your content to what they’re most likely to be interested in seeing. This includes creating marketing personas for your customers, as well as soliciting feedback on a regular basis. Over time, you’ll be able to create a marketing strategy that gets results.