December 10, 2019 - by Robert Carter
Once you have done the important groundwork of identifying your thought leaders it is important to understand how technology helps you amplify your efforts. This guide covers some of the most important questions you should ask and areas you should investigate so you can make an informed, objective decision when selecting a software platform for your “Thought Leadership” program.
- Goals: What are my “thought leadership” goals?
- Criteria: How do I choose a technology to help?
- Management: How will I organize and manage my content?
- Promotion: What options are available to help me increase the audience reach?
- Results: How do I ensure ongoing success?
What are my “thought leadership” goals?
You know who your thought leaders are. But how does “thought leadership” connect with your broader marketing and business strategies? It is important to not only define your current motivations but understand all the benefits a well-constructed thought leadership program can offer your organization. Two of the most common reasons for starting a “thought leadership” program are:
- Driving brand visibility
- Increasing Media Exposure
- Acquiring speaking engagements
- Improving search engine ranking (SEO)
- Growing brand preference and influence
- Employee recruitment and retention
- Driving more qualified leads
- Lowering customer acquisition costs
- Reaching new prospects and markets
- Closing new business faster
- Increasing contract value
Better understanding your goals is a great starting point for evaluating any platform vendor to determine who provides the best combination of software and professional services to meet your needs.
How do I choose a technology to help?
A variety of factors go into choosing the best technology for executing your thought leadership program. Two of the major technology considerations that should guide your evaluation are the flexibility and feature completeness of the platform.
With flexibility, it is important as communications or other potentially non-technical professionals that the platform allows you to get started quickly with the tools needed to execute your program without being dependent upon IT every step of the way. At the same time, the technology should provide powerful design capabilities and advanced features that your IT team could unlock, allowing you to improve your effectiveness over time. Important considerations in terms of flexibility include:
- Marketing Communications Friendly: Are there easy to use, customizable templates available to quickly publish and promote your thought leadership content on your owned properties, such as your website?
- IT-Ready: Is there a detailed API that allows your IT team the option to create fully customizable experiences from both a design and content perspective? Can they easily connect to other systems that they may already be using? Is it built on an enterprise-grade technology infrastructure that recognizes security needs and provides advanced access control such as single sign-on?
- Social Network Compatibility: Can you easily use your previously deployed social media assets to populate your new thought leadership activities while quickly deploying those through current social media channels.
- Built-in Distribution to Maximize Visibility: Does your published thought leadership content automatically get distributed to multiple locations beyond your own website? Is the content automatically optimized for search engines using technical best practices of schema and content structure? Is the content available automatically to other platforms used by other important audiences such as journalists in newsrooms?
- Secure Multi-User Access: Can you easily define and provide access to as many admins as possible to help with the program – without incurring additional license fees? Can you provide individual expert’s access to their content to help keep it current?
In terms of feature functionality, important considerations include:
- Core Feature Completeness: Does the platform provide a complete end-to-end solution starting from content creation through publishing, website integrations, ongoing management, distribution, inquiry management, and reporting?
- Built-in Workflows: Are there ready-made best-practice workflows that can address how your organization wants to handle inbound elements of the thought leadership program, such as acquiring and responding to time-sensitive inquiries?
- Expert Insights: Does the technology provide additional tools that allow you to share and promote insights, stories or notable information allowing you to go beyond profiles, directories, and basic posts?
- Actionable Analytics: Does the platform provide relevant analytics that helps you track and make adjustments to your expertise marketing strategy to maximize your ROI?
How will I organize and manage my content?
Fresh, relevant expert content published by your thought leaders is highly valued by audiences as well as search engines. For busy professionals, the practical difficulties in maintaining this content is a common reason many thought leadership marketing efforts fail. Processes need to be established not only the initial launch but ongoing content updates and maintenance is critical. When evaluating a vendor you should consider the following.
- Flexible Content Publishing: Does the platform allow you to build out your content over time? Can you easily expand your content to include assets such as video, publications, media appearances as they become available? Can you flexibly deploy this content for use in both public and private use cases?
- Structured for SEO: Will your expert content be structured from keyword, meta-data and schema perspectives to be most inviting to Google, helping drive search rank and overall discoverability?
- Content Integrations:Does the solution provide out of the box integrations with top content providers such as YouTube™ and Amazon Books™ to capture and display on your website?
- Other Enterprise Integrations: To help eliminate duplicated effort and ensure consistency, is there an available API that lets IT leverage other systems you may already be using such as Marketing Automation, CRM, Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Human Capital Management (HCM)?
- Controlled Multi-User Access: Can you easily configure your solution to share the responsibility of maintaining and promoting your thought leadership content with multiple admins, individual thought leaders or 3rd party organizations?
- Access to Professional Services: Beyond the technology, does the vendor provide professional services for helping you create, manage and maintain your content? Are these services included or are they at an additional cost?
What options are available to help me increase the audience reach?
Having thought-provoking content is only your starting point. Effectively being able to share your content with key audiences is critical. Ensuring that content is easily discoverable and visible across a variety of channels increases your chances of being discovered for valuable speaking, media, business opportunities and more.
- Easy Website Integration: Can you easily distribute your thought leadership content across your website in multiple forms and locations for maximum discoverability.
- Content Built for Search: Relevant expert content is favored by Google, but it must be structured in specific ways. Will your content be structured from keyword, meta-data and schema perspectives to be most inviting to Google, helping drive search rank and overall discoverability of your thought leaders?
- Content Syndication: Will your content be syndicated to key audiences such as newsrooms to better reach journalists looking for a media source? Are your organization’s thought leaders visible in external marketplaces for additional discoverability?
- Additional Publishing/Promotion Tools: Beyond profiles of your thought leaders, does the solution provide tools such as the ability to create expertise focussed posts on trending topics that add context and drive engagement with key audiences?
How do I ensure ongoing success?
A successful thought leadership program takes time and focus. Some goals may be short term while others take time. Ensuring that you will be supported during the entire process involves both an evaluation of a vendor’s capabilities related to technology and support.
- Access to Latest Technology: Will the vendor provide you with the latest features for helping us publish and promote our thought leadership?
- Access to the Customer Success Representatives: Do you have access to dedicated people and best practices to help guide you and your team long term as you make investments in thought leadership?
- Access to Distribution: Will you have access to new and expanded distribution options to ensure that your expert marketing activities are continually recognized by the audiences that matter to you?
- Track Record of Success: Does your proposed vendor have a track record of working with top-name corporate and institutional clients in key sectors such as higher education, professional services, and healthcare? Can they show demonstrated success in helping organizations succeed with their thought leadership goals?