You’ll read a lot about these terms. And at Ghost Blog Writers we have folks coming to us saying they want to do one or the other or both for the themselves and their clients.
But those terms can be a bit vague.
What is Thought Leadership?
What does it mean to Provide Value?
One way. A simple way to look at both of these is to answer the questions your target audience is asking.
Target audience could be target customers. It could be target clients.
Whoever the folks are that you’re trying to sell to…eventually.
Types Of Questions
Usually you want to look at the questions potential customers are asking. Not the questions your current customers are asking.
But there are times when they overlap.
For example, your current customer might ask about how they can get faster shipping. Or they may ask about a specific product and how to use. A potential customer may ask those questions, but probably not.
With content marketing the focus is on customers that have no idea you exist. You’re looking for the questions they’re asking so you can earn their attention, answer their question and then earn their trust.
Here are some of the benefits of following this strategy.
1. You’re Helping People
I’ve been talking with people the last year or so. One thing that hit me is that people really want to help other people.
Some of expressed disappointment with their jobs and their work. I’ll sympathize with them, but then I try to ask a question about what they would rather being doing. If money wasn’t any issue.
And probably 90% say they would rather be doing some kind of teaching. I know a few that have actually left their more corporate business jobs to become teachers.
Well, if you’re looking to help people there is an easy way to do that. Thanks to the Internet we have sites like Quora, Social Media and blogs, podcasts and video to do just that.
You don’t even need an official job at a school where you might have a class of 30 kids with maybe one or two that actually want to be there.
With a blog you can reach thousands and all will be interested.
2. You’re Earning Attention
Marketing and the top of the funnel sales has always been about attention.
Attention can just about be boiled down to two things that people want:
When you’re answering questions that people are asking you’re earning their attention by educating them on topics they’re searching for and want to learn. If you can add an element of entertainment to that content then you’re really hitting on something.
You may not see a direct line from attention sales, but it definitely has an impact. Maybe not right away, but in the long run people will start coming to you. More on that later.
3. You’re Building A Reputation (Word Of Mouth)
This is kind of that Thought Leadership thing. It’s really about building your reputation in the industry. Amongst customers and even amongst peers.
What’s the point of that?
Word of mouth.
Getting people to learn that you exist, offering something they want (answers) and then earning their business because they know you, know what you stand for and know what you offer them in terms of products and services.
4. You’re Following The Best SEO Strategy
If you’ve been chasing SEO the last several years you may have done things like link building and focusing on all kinds of keywords.
But as Google has made changes you may have seen rankings rise and fall.
Here’s the thing about SEO, Google’s goal is to provide the best answers for their searchers’ questions.
By answering questions you’re aligning your efforts with Google’s. And no matter the algorithm changes you will win in the long run.
5. And The Best Social Media, Email, etc. Strategy
Along with SEO you’re also following the best traffic strategy for all channels.
When you’re answering questions you’re giving people the content they want. It doesn’t matter what the channel is. People click on content that answers their questions (and that entertains them) no matter where they are.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email Newsletters, etc.
6. You’re Learning More About Your Customers
Big one here that often gets overlooked.
The more you interact with your target customers the more you learn about them. What they’re interested in. What challenges them. Who they are. Where they live. All kinds of things.
I think it’s even better than running surveys and things like that. When you know the questions people are asking and searching for you can learn things about them that they might even know about themselves.
Let’s say you’re a plumber and you see a customer asking how to unclog a drain. You can answer that question, but you probably also know that the customer would be able to prevent clogs with regular drain maintenance.
7. You’re Focusing On The 97%
I love this one. It’s an estimate from Chet Holmes.
The idea is that your customer is only in buying mode for your product 3% of the time. I think that might even be overstating it.
Do you spend 3% of your life researching and buying cars? Or 97% of your time researching and buying groceries?
The point is that if you’re only creating content that sells your product you’re only focusing on a very small percentage of your customer’s attention.
By focusing on the other 97% of the time you can still earn the attention of your customers and help them. That will earn their trust so that when they’re are in buying mode they come to you.
8. You’re Earning Partnership Opportunities
It’s not just about your target customers.
Answering questions with a content strategy also brings opportunities for partnerships. From complementary businesses and even from competition (when they’re too busy to handle inquiries).
The more you help people the more your reputation grows and the more peers in the industry know about you.
9. You’re Getting People To Come To You
I’ve mentioned this throughout, but wanted to make it its own point. Because it’s important.
I believe in outbound sales. Reaching out to your ideal customers and pitching them your products and services. It works. But it’s a tough game.
Branding, which is what we’re really talking about in this post, is the art of earning people’s attention and trust and getting them to come to you.
Who doesn’t want that?
Even if you do it in parallel with your outbound strategies.
10. You’re Learning
Not just about your customer like we looked at above.
But about your industry and even about yourself.
I’ve been blogging for 10+ years now. I can’t even begin to count the number of things I’ve learned about blogging, business, marketing and more.
The more you do something the more you learn. Even if you’re answering people’s questions that you don’t know the answer to you’re going out and learning it. You’re doing the work for them so they can learn.
Lots of value for you in that approach.
It’s normal to wonder why it’s good to answer people’s questions. But I think if you would look at yourself in real life that you’re already doing a lot of it. Talking with prospective customers. Talking with current customers. Discussion their lives. Providing answers.
Now just take that strategy online. The benefits are listed above. There is a lot to gain.