Thought Leader or Sales Pusher?

thought-leaderBusinesses are seeing a value in being a thought leader. When done correctly, becoming a thought leader, an individual who drives innovation and new ideas in a given industry, is a valuable path for any professional. But there is a difference between expressing an opinion and always trying to push a sale. Thought leaders are popular, well respected and connected enough to drive real value to their respective businesses.

Consistency is key in establishing yourself as a “thought leader.” Identify the specific area(s) in which your company truly has the expertise required to become a thought leader. What expertise does your company have that none (or at least few) of your competitors have? That becomes your value proposition and should be what you key into. You may be good at various things, but you’re probably best known for only one or two.

Stay abreast of trends in the marketplace. These trends will be different depending on the type of business you’re in. What is the common denominator between your areas of expertise and these trends? Understanding the connection will help you join the conversation in a meaningful way.

Know who your target audience is, where their pain points and concerns are, and how you can solve their problems will bring value to the table. You can’t go to school to become a “thought leader,” nor can you complete a one-off program and earn some kind of certificate or formal recognition as such. Instead, you must implement a series of ongoing strategies, refine your skill sets and expand your professional connections consistently. In order to do that, you must hang out in the right places to be sure you’re networking with your target audience.

Understand your platform by defining the appropriate channels. Do you have a blog on your company website? Do you have a social media presence and/or an electronic newsletter? If you are a B2B company, LinkedIn posts by your thought leadership spokespeople might be a good way to reach your target group and ultimately new customers. But remember – personality and passion are key to your success. If the content is too dry, salesy or technical it is unlikely to attract an audience. Be a problem solver, not a sales pusher.

Consistency is key. Define a schedule and stick to it. Don’t jump into many platforms just to say you have an account and not be active. Pick 1 or 2 and do them right. Whether you decide to go for a blog, a vlog, a podcast series, or a series of LinkedIn posts, you need to commit to developing and releasing new content consistently. Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight, but rather builds as new content is released. Stay focused and keep building the relationship with your readers/viewers/listeners. Audience engagement isn’t one-sided. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for feedback and respond quickly to ensure that you keep the conversation going!

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

Creativity for Business Owners

creativity-for-business-ownersAre you finding it difficult to be creative when it’s summer? Are sunshine and fun hampering your creativity? Perhaps you’re convinced that you just aren’t the “creative type” to begin with? Hey, not everyone gets all the good genes.

With some effort and practice, creativity can be learned. The key is in the planning. Do you create “To Do” lists and follow them?

Do you have a yearly marketing plan in place that helps to spur ideas? If not, feel free to download our 2018 Marketing Calendar with dates, events and marketing ideas to grow your business.

Here are some tips to keep the creativity flowing.

  • Be still…Give Yourself Time and Space. Thirty minutes a day to be still will allow thoughts to flow.
  • Engage in brain dumps from your head to paper. These don’t need to be complete paragraphs but rather thoughts and ideas. You might be surprised what quiet time can unveil.
  • Technology overload – minimize distractions. Put the social media to the side and turn off email while you work on your project.
  • Prioritize your projects and don’t let distractions get in the way. Tackle new projects first thing while you’re fresh. here’s a saying, “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t look at it too long. f you have to swallow more than one frog, swallow the big one first. (source unknown) Tackle big projects when you are fresh.
  • Attend a seminar or take an Online Course. Have an interest in a particular topic that you want to explore? Online training sites like Udemy offer over 80,000 low-cost online courses you can take in a variety of subjects.
  • Learn new things and open your mind to new ideas and possibilities.
  • Do You Doodle? Why do you think adult coloring books have become so popular? It brings out your inner kid and allows you to be creative.
  • Keep an Idea File with you. Your smartphone can easily store notes and ideas.
  • Find Friends. You become like those you hang out with. Surround yourself with creative people who get excited about new ideas – business owners, artists, creatives, writers, web designers, etc.
  • Make Time for Exercise – I personally struggle with this one! Exercise reduces stress and clears the mind.
  • Read from a variety of sources…books, magazines, journals and blog posts.

New behaviors can become automatic through the process of habit formation. There is a simple process to Developing Good Habits:

  • Identify the habit. …
  • Make the decision, and then the commitment, to change. ..
  • Discover your triggers and obstacles. …
  • Devise a plan. …
  • Employ visualization and affirmations. …
  • Enlist support from family and friends. …

Remind yourself that creativity can be a learned skill. Schedule in some time in the coming weeks to try out the strategies above. Feel free to share your creativity with us!

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

Reputation Management

Online-Business-Reputation

How often do you check on your online business reputation? If you are looking for a particular service, how many times do you see a question posted on social media, “Do You Know a Good….?” Whether a potential customer knows the third-party referral or not, they check out a referral for online reviews. When using apps such as Yelp, Groupon or Travelocity – do you read reviews before making a purchase? Many potential customers do.

All businesses no matter what size or industry must be concerned about what their customers are saying about them. Whether you are a business consultant or have a restaurant, spa, dental office, pet supply store or any other kind of business to consumer business, you need to diligently monitor reviews, comments on social media, and other content that affects your reputation.

When posting on social media, do you stand on the fencepost of neutral, particularly when it comes to politics and religion? Are you careful that ads are not insensitive? A thoughtless tweet or post can put your reputation in a downward spiral.

Google Alerts are a great way to manage your online reputation. By using this tool, you are able to monitor your online reputation. I have alerts set up for my name and business name. By claiming your business on Google My Business and Yelp, it allows people to both review and find you.

What recourse do you have when someone posts a negative review? The key is to not ignore it. A negative review can be a result of a bad customer experience or in some cases, unscrupulous competitors can target your online reputation. Always respond with an apology for the experience and don’t get into an online argument. Take the conversation offline in a private message format or better yet, if you have a phone number, pick up and phone (yes it still does exist) and call the customer and apologize. In some cases, you can dispute the online review with the provider and point out that you have no record of a customer’s order – especially if you suspect unfair ratings from competition or a former employee.

When people take the time to write a review, thank them for their review. Acknowledgement for positive feedback shows your fans that you appreciate their feedback. Building an online reputation is work. A business can be proactive in asking for reviews, engaging on social media and focusing on good customer service.

Building an online reputation is a marathon endeavor – not a sprint. It’s a partnership between the business, their employees and ultimately the customer. Your customers will ultimately determine your online reputation, but as a business owner, you can do your part to train your staff and deliver stellar customer service. Be realistic, mistakes happen, but acknowledge them and take steps to satisfy the customer. Adjust operational procedures to ensure that mistake doesn’t happen again.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.