You can’t put it in your pocket. You can’t take it home with you. You certainly can’t download it. And you can’t buy it, sell it or trade it. Yet it’s one of the most integral parts of any successful brand.
Trust may be a hard-to-define intangible, but without it, you won’t be able to build relationships with clients, customers and others in your industry. You may have the most amazing product on the market. You personally may have stellar credentials and unique past experiences. But without the basic fiber of trust coursing through every facet of your brand, success will remain elusive.
How important is trust in business? According to a recent survey, 31% of customers say trust is the most important thing they look for in a brand. That’s more than all other attributes in the study, including creativeness, intelligence, confidence, and authenticity.
That same survey revealed that 77% of brand conversations on social media are people looking for advice, information, or help.
All this adds up to one important point; people in need buy from brands they trust.
Cultivating a culture of trust in your brand, however, can be as elusive as defining trust. One place to start is to first understand the times we live in. The emotional stress and upheaval of the pandemic literally wiped the business landscape clean. People looking to buy products and services are no longer moved by the loudest and funniest pitches. They want to hear from authentic voices that speak to their current needs. They want solutions to their problems.
This is why embarking on a strategy of Thought Leadership can be the most productive use of your efforts in building trust.
A thought leader is a person or brand that is seen as an authority and an expert in their field. Through the creation of custom content such as educational materials, speeches, blog posts, videos, and outreach into the community, a thought leader has established themselves as that authority, and a go-to resource. They stand above simply selling a product or service. They are someone with their pulse on the industry, it’s past, it’s present and, most importantly, it’s future.
Here are 5 ways you can use Thought Leadership to become the most trusted brand in your industry.
1.Educate, don’t sell.
Although the end result of thought leadership is ultimately about higher sales, the process of thought leadership is not at all about selling. In fact, if your thought leadership content contains sales pitches, it can have the exact opposite effect and make people turn against you. You end up looking phony and inauthentic.
True thought leaders have put in the time and effort to establish real authority on a subject. This means they are well read, do intensive research, have established a wide network of connections, and have their finger on the pulse of their field. Thought leaders are educators, not sales people.
2. Solve People’s Problems
You need to know who you are speaking to. Research data on who exactly is your audience. Find out what their concerns are. What are the latest trends in your industry? What complaints and issues are people having? Then tailor your content to helping people solve their problems.
It’s all about being able to put the bigger picture into easily digestible perspectives that offer people solutions.
3. Make your content personal, but don’t be a know-it-all
There is nothing more compelling than personal experience and knowledge. However, there is a fine line between relating your experiences, and being seen as a show off. Always remember, your goal is to offer people help and solutions, not shine the light on yourself.
4. Be informed by the past and present, but always strive for the future.
The pace of change these days is staggering and many people feel immense stress trying to see the bigger picture and figuring out how the future will unfold.
Thought leaders know where their industry has been and where it’s currently at. But more importantly they know where their industry is headed. They are able to provide people with vision and to see the future.
5. Listen, be engaged and stay humble.
Although you are the authority figure, you never stop learning and listening. Engage with your audience and take their concerns seriously. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something or that you made a mistake.
In uncertain times, consumers will gravitate, and do business with, people and brands they trust. A well planned and executed strategy of thought leadership offers a highly effective way to reach those people looking for answers, allowing you to gain their trust in a natural and organic way, and driving success and sales in the process.
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