Written by: Candis Roussel
We’ve said it before but we can’t emphasize it enough: today’s marketplace is in the midst of a fundamental change.
How people find and select professional services is being transformed by technology, and that means the way firms promote and sell their services has to adapt — or firms like yours risk becoming irrelevant.
As the Millennial generation makes up more of the workforce in companies around the world, their habits come with them. Their generation has grown up with the Internet. And when they need something — whether a new shirt, a piece of information or a new accounting firm — they turn to the online sources that have always provided reliable results. And it’s not just Millennials who are looking online. In fact, online search is already the most common way buyers, regardless of generation, find expertise:
Today, Google and platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogs provide a wealth of ways to find and vet firms. And increasingly, buyers are turning to resources like these first.
In fact, these platforms are injecting new life into an old concept: thought leadership. But thought leadership isn’t about writing white papers anymore. It’s now a sophisticated business development function. Moreover, this trend is changing what modern business development looks like. Many savvy firms today are positioning themselves as indispensable, go-to sources of knowledge.
One of the best ways to build a reputation online for your knowledge is to turn to a resource most firms already have in spades: their experts. Of course, it’s not enough to have experts. They need to become visible and accessible to the general public. We call these individuals Visible Experts®, and their ascent into relative stardom delivers tangible benefits to their firms.
Here are seven great reasons you should consider building your own cadre of thought leaders at your firm:
- They help your firm be found online
Online search is already the top technique buyers use to find expertise, so if your firm wants to grow, you need to carve out a niche for yourself. Google loves in-depth expert content and often rewards it with high search rankings. And having Visible Experts make it easier to build a loyal following of admirers. That’s all great news for your business.
- You’ll attract top talent
As your firm’s reputation grows online and offline, top recruits will take notice. After all, they often want to be associated with the best-known firms. Many will be avid readers of your content, so selling them on the benefits of working at your organization will be much easier.
- Unlimited professional growth potential
When you offer a Visible Expert track, your experts can rise as high as their ambitions and talents take them. At many small and mid-size firms, the avenues for professional growth are limited. Thought leadership cuts a door through that ceiling — and provides a powerful tool to retain your best people.
- Your firm will grow faster
Buyers seek out thought leaders when they have difficult or time-sensitive problems. If your team is positioned as thought leaders, it takes less effort to generate leads. The leads you get will be easier to qualify, and they will close more quickly and at a higher rate of success. Efficiencies like these are the rocket fuel of business growth.
- It’s easier to build a national and international reputation
As your experts and firm become more visible online you become exposed to a whole new audience — one unconstrained by geography. The online marketplace is truly global, and you will be presented with exciting new opportunities to expand your territory.
- You can charge higher fees
Thought leaders can have a tremendous impact on the financial performance of their firms. In fact, top Visible Experts can command fees up to 11X higher than average. The resulting halo effect allows their firms to charge more for all of their services. These firms become highly desirable, and that gives them considerable leverage in the marketplace.
- Your brand will be stronger
At Hinge, we measure brand strength on two axes: reputation and visibility. When you have thought leaders in your organization, both of these factors tend to rise, often dramatically. Firms with strong brands are usually more profitable and have higher valuations. They also enjoy a tangible new differentiator — their high-profile expertise — that they can promote to prospective clients, partners and recruits.
Is your marketing program positioning your firm for success today and in the coming years? You may want to think long and hard about putting thought leadership at the top of your agenda. In an increasingly online business environment, firms with recognized thought leaders will hold the upper hand. Maybe it’s time to raise yours.
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