Thought leadership is the most relevant new skill for sales teams, brands and entrepreneurs. When your organisation is seen as the guiding light, the household name, the go-to source, it becomes the logical business choice for those seeking to spend in your industry.
When you, individually, are viewed on all the right platforms, you become seen as more than just an entrepreneur. You’re seen as an industry expert and they start coming to you.
The best part is that it’s free. It requires only effort and intelligence to implement.
The alternative is to remain a low-level operator, selling items piecemeal, knocking on doors, ringing phones and attempting to reach one prospect at a time. It’s often less lucrative, requires greater effort and isn’t self-replicating. When he sleeps, the low-level operator’s profits come to a halt.
Remember: Experts always leave a trail of bread-crumbs.
Think about it: Your goal is to become the guru, dispensing wisdom to the crowds from a hillside. Of course, in place of a hillside, you want audiences flocking to your website, attending your presentations and events, viewing your articles and interviews and ultimately, buying into your brand and products.
But first, they must know where to find you
Every time you are featured publically, you should leave a trail of breadcrumbs. If they follow you up the hillside, you are a guru. If they don’t, you’re just a vagrant hillbilly.
Different kinds of crumbs:
Let’s start with the most obvious form of breadcrumbs: Your contact details. You should never conclude an interview, speech or published article without a basic means for people to reach you. Contact details are critical, but they also constitute only Level One in terms of what you can achieve with breadcrumbs.
Level Two is encouraging followers. You can invite your market to do that on the various social platforms. Extend the invitation and then provide your LinkedIn name or Twitter handle. As a sidebar, always remember to follow back anyone who follows you on Twitter. That’s just how it works.
And yet, these two levels still represent a bare minimum. What you really want to do is provide Level Three Breadcrumbs.
Level Three is made up of compelling, must-have crumbs, of the kind that people cannot possibly resist. They follow the crumbs because they are mesmerized by them. They are mesmerized by them because you have designed them to be so. Level Three breadcrumbs are achieved with The Promise of More.
The Promise of More:
In 2010, car manufacturer Hyundai began upping the ante in terms of their relatively humble positioning. They launched the Sonata with a series of ads featuring extreme close-ups of the dash, the steering wheel, the bonnet, without actually revealing which brand was being advertised. They ended with the intriguing tagline, ‘Re-think luxury,’ and a link to a website. Almost everyone I know went on to that site to discover the manufacturer’s identity. I certainly did. That was a compelling trail of bread-crumbs.
In Hyundai’s case, the element of attraction was ‘mystery.’ But yours could be anything: the promise of free, useful content, entertaining videos, downloads, a quiz, a game, a trivia test… You are limited only by your imagination and the creative skills of your web designer.
And, of course, your trail needn’t lead exclusively to websites. You might create a business card (crumb), which, when presented at your premises, entitles the bearer to a very engaging and entertaining X.
But even business cards are fairly obvious. Instead, how about giving away free, one-page fliers with valuable information? For instance, if you want to be the leading voice in fashion advice, could you design a single-page hand-out with ‘Ten Fashion Foibles to Avoid’? That’s a keepable crumb!
I once designed a small flier with a few educational bullet-points, which a staff member at a large corporate company tagged to her cubicle wall. Her boss saw the flier and booked me for a speaking engagement. When crumbs are kept, your dialogue goes on. Your brand speaks even in your absence.
Get creative with your crumbs:
I have a keynote presentation called ‘The Rules of Hamster Thinking.’ For that reason, my own business cards feature all my details on the front, and a summary of the Rules of Hamster Thinking on the back. On my site, I have a series of free articles, many of which feature ideas about Hamster Thinking in corporations.
So rather than allow valuable instances of public exposure to become flash-in-the-pan brand moments, your goal is to create ongoing dialogue. Do that by ensuring that your trail of breadcrumbs will:
- Enable them to reach you
- Invite them to follow you on social platforms
- Entice them to engage further with intriguing offers of more; and
- Be the kind of crumb people will keep.
Scatter your crumbs broadly, but scatter them with intelligent design. Use every interview, every speech, every instance of public appearance to leave your trail of crumbs, but do it tactfully. A compelling crumb is more valuable than a series of leave-behind business cards. The Offer of More is endlessly more enticing than mere contact details.
Leave the right kind of trail, and they will follow you up the hillside.