Companies are always looking for ways to gain an edge over their competition. Higher-quality products, faster results, and lower prices are just a few of the obvious ways to get ahead. But what if everyone started looking to your company for industry expertise instead?
Industry experts aren’t born, they’re made. It takes some online diligence to distinguish yourself from competitors. However, once you do, you can control the message, build trust, and create customer loyalty for your business.
With the right work, any company can become an expert in its industry. Here are a few strategies that will help establish your brand’s expertise.
Search for Gaps in Thought Leadership
If you keep seeing your competitors hold forth on a certain topic, find a different one. When trying to establish thought leadership, “better late than never” doesn’t work. Leadership is all about, well … leading.
Thought leadership requires vision. It’s not about selling your widget, but rather about igniting a conversation about the future of your industry. That requires finding a gap in the current thought leadership landscape. How do you find that opening? By getting online and doing some research.
Begin by typing potential topics into the search engine of your choice and seeing what’s already out there. If your search yields few results, you might have found an opportunity. If the field is fairly crowded on a topic you’re passionate about, what’s not being said that should be? Your contrarian view may need to be part of the debate.
Remember that it’s far easier to be an expert on one or two topics than many. When you find (don’t find?) the topics you can speak to that aren’t being discussed, stake your claim. Instead of showing up late to the party, you’ll be hosting it.
Commit to Content
Online content is the workhorse of any strategy aimed at positioning your company as an industry expert. Creating and using content to its full potential requires an ongoing commitment. Prepare to go deep and broad, as a scattershot strategy will be ineffective.
Let those one or two topics you identified drive a topic cluster approach to your onsite content. Research reports or pillar pages will provide depth, while blog posts on adjacent topics will offer breadth. Links between these pieces of content will form an authority-conveying web that will impress search engines.
When it comes to distribution, use the appropriate channels and content to reach target audiences. Content aimed at your industry peers, for example, will need to be written and delivered differently from content intended for your customers.
Content should always be relevant to the reader, shareable, findable, and distributed via multiple channels. It should also be opportunistic. For example, you can turn a blog post into a five-minute video for your YouTube channel and link it to your Instagram account.
Don’t confine expert content to your company website and social media accounts. Seek opportunities to publish it in online industry, leadership, entrepreneurial, and consumer publications. Third-party publication adds a stamp of legitimacy to any content.
Most of all, commit to creating masterful content that educates and elevates rather than attempts to make a sale. Establish your company as an industry expert, and sales will follow.
Bring Out the Wisdom From Within
You invest a lot of resources in recruiting and retaining the best employees you can find. Don’t hide their expertise under a bushel. Use it to position your company as an industry expert.
Maybe your head of IT lives and breathes the latest tech breakthroughs but can’t communicate with mere mortals. Don’t let that stop you from using that expertise to benefit your company. Just find the writing talent to express what your IT pro can’t.
Great content writers can glean information from experts and communicate it clearly to an audience. They also know the strategies necessary to get that content found online. Great content is of no use to your company if it appears in the middle of a million search results.
And don’t just hire anyone who claims to be a content writer. Hire the right one for your company and for this specific goal. The best content writers will immerse themselves not only in your company, but your industry as well.
It’s quite possible that your in-house industry expert is not a natural born communicator. The good news is that you can hire the talent to unlock and convey their expertise. Every success takes some amount of teamwork.
Put Your Company Out There
Your company can’t become an expert in its industry by standing in the wings watching other actors on stage. You have to be willing to put your company in the spotlight and connect with your audience.
Use your company’s website and social media accounts to make yourself available for activities like interviews and speeches. Market your brand’s expert talent like you market the products or services you sell. Be willing to take a position or advocate for a cause related to the company’s area of expertise.
You may not be invited to do a TED Talk right out of the gate. In fact, the local Rotary Club chapter might be the best offer you get at first, and that’s OK. You have to start somewhere.
What’s key is to make the most of that Rotary presentation or local newspaper interview. Use your company website, social media channels, and email marketing to let your audience know about every 15 minutes of fame that comes your way.
When your company’s expertise begins attracting attention, don’t let the curtain fall. That first speaking engagement, media interview, or guest blog is just the beginning. Keep putting your company out there, and soon your brand’s expertise will be unmistakable.
There are many variables that cause a company to blend in or stand out. Employing these strategies to become an expert in your industry is a sure way to distinguish your business. It might just be the competitive edge your brand needs to take the lead.