Becoming even a moderately successful small business owner takes a great deal of effort. It involves hard work, knowledge, focus and the ability to multitask with skill. You are probably already getting your hands dirty on a daily basis. You have put in the work and hopefully are reaping at least some of the rewards.
You may be to the point where you are considering taking your small, local business to the next level, but the thought of ramping up your efforts may not be appealing. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day. Sometimes it may seem the solution is just doing more of what you're doing to increase leads and sales.
What if there was a way in which you could increase sales, shorten the sales cycle and develop an almost endless stream of referrals by making better use of what you already know? What if you could position yourself in an almost impenetrable place atop the local market in your product category? You can, by taking what you know and do, and using that to take a thought leadership role. It will take a commitment to personal branding and a willingness to share what you know, but you can become a thought leader in your local market.
Thought leadership: Not just for the big guys
Many perceive thought leadership as a role reserved for the CEOs of major corporations or organizations. But consider this. It is much more challenging to become a thought leader on a national basis than on a local level. There is less competition for one, and, like you, many of your local competitors may not think it is possible, or they don't want to make the effort. The time and the effort, however, can pay huge dividends. In addition to less fierce competition, every local market is different and has its nuances. Each has its own history, beliefs, needs and political leanings. You likely know your own local market very well. This is a big advantage in even dealing with larger national or regional competitors. It's time to put that knowledge and experience you amassed in your industry and the local market to work for you.
A crucial part of your marketing efforts
You may be saying to yourself, "But my plate is already full!" That's a natural reaction, but this is important to understand. Rather than viewing thought leadership or personal branding as additional tasks, consider them a crucial part of your marketing efforts. View them as new and better ways to market yourself and your business. Becoming a thought leader with a focus on personal branding doesn't necessarily take more effort. It is marketing in a different, more effective, and longer-lasting way.
Focus on how you want people to perceive you, and be consistent in molding that image. Narrow your target audience to the most valuable demographic, and tailor your messages to that demo.
Becoming a local thought leader
Becoming a thought leader in your local market means positioning yourself as the expert in your field. This can be done through content marketing on your website and sharing tips and tricks through social media, a blog or even an article in your local newspaper. Solicit questions and provide logical answers. You can create a quarterly email newsletter and make a few print editions available at your bricks-and-mortar location. Include tips, advice and industry news on your local radio station or in print advertising. Become more visible in your local market at fundraisers and community events. Offer to be a speaker in front of local civic organizations. Be accessible and willing to share your knowledge freely.
Becoming a thought leader often starts by confirming what people may already know or suspect. Phrases such as, “You want to feel comfortable dealing with your jeweler,” “You don't want to waste money,” and "Insurance can be confusing,” are just a few examples. Immediately, you are placing yourself in like-mindedness with your audience and building bridges. When you are a thought leader, people and prospects will seek you out, and they will refer you to family and friends.
Are you ready to realize the benefits of becoming a thought leader in your local market?
"Do Leadership: A Step by Step Guide to Doing Thought Leadership" is a new book by Ray L. Perry. Perry is chief marketing officer for MarketBlazer, Inc., a technology-based marketing company focused on lead generation, lead conversion and custom engagement for small businesses. You can get started on your path to thought leadership by calling 770-415-8740.