How to Become a Thought Leader in the Technology Domain

The technology sector is one of the most dynamic industries in today’s business landscape.

The rate of new concepts and innovations is not slowing, despite numerous economic and geopolitical challenges. The novelty of a piece of tech innovation being introduced to the market today does not mean something else cannot overtake it in interest and attention in a matter of days or weeks.

This type of growth is admirable, but it could also pose problems for thought leaders, or would-be thought leaders, who need to stay relevant and get timely messages across when the situation is changing quickly and constantly.

Despite these challenges, thought leadership is still relevant in the technology sector. It is a long-term, sustained process that requires building reputation and trust with an intended audience.

Tech and Thought Leadership: What’s the Connection?

Thought leadership remains one of the most significant market positioning and penetration strategies for tech companies at different stages. It goes hand-in-hand with innovation and can be a tool to demonstrate agility.

Start-ups do not have the legacy of long-standing companies to back up their offerings. This is why they usually face stiff competition in breaking into the market unless they can show that they truly have a unique handle on solving problems. Thought leadership can help them to showcase a unique perspective or fresh outlook.

For the more established brands, thought leadership is the key to maintaining relevance, trust and relationships. There are key stages in developing thought leadership in the tech sector:

1. The first stage of thought leadership in tech, no matter the brand’s scale, is geared towards recognition. Tech problems are serious issues or challenges that require unique approaches, which may also provide savings on costs and time.

2. The next stage in the thought leadership journey is focused on persuading prospective clients of their need for the company’s products and services without actually selling products and services. Here, thought leadership can help to open doors and advance discussions by highlighting challenges and opportunities in the industry and suggesting solutions and approaches to tackle them.

Know your market

Technology is not one space where you can ‘fake it until you make it.’ To be thought leaders, subject matter experts need to be able to demonstrate their breadth of knowledge and experience. Companies need to be able to dig deep into their expertise and strengths. It sometimes helps to focus on a niche theme or topic, where businesses are able to showcase their ability to identify problems and solve challenges, presenting situations and circumstances in a new light.

Forget Jargon

The birthplace of core technology was designed by buzzwords and technical language. The industry has evolved beyond that stage now. Tech leaders tend to adopt a more conversational tone, focusing on results – explained in everyday language – rather than trying to impress their audience with buzzwords. The trick is to make complex concepts easy to understand. Content needs to be jargon-free and backed by research and evidence.

Research and insight to support the buying journey

Buying is an emotional decision, even in the B2B market – an emotional connection and response is now widely accepted as having greater importance in the B2B buying journey. The buying process for B2B markets keeps getting more complex by the year. With more vendors to consider and the pressure to pick a high-performing product, buyers’ stress is mounting.

Tech companies can solve this problem and make their clients’ work easier with high-quality research that is incorporated into compelling narratives. Experts in research and analytics are able to help shape thought leadership, and collect and provide relevant data, to drive success for thought leadership campaigns.

Timeliness of Messaging

Trends are short-lived in the tech industry, while predictions can fizzle out fast. This makes producing evergreen content in this niche an interesting challenge.

Companies cannot be chasing all the trends, for all the market, all the time. They need to identify their target audience, so that they can focus on relevant trends and timely messaging.

Involving the right stakeholders

Tech buyers often include Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and their teams as stakeholders. However, the B2B buying process is more complicated than that, and can involve other business leaders, including the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Executive officer (CEO), including other business departments and key stakeholders such as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Therefore, crafting a buyer persona for a CTO customer journey alone – and targeting thought leadership towards technology heads – may not be the best strategy.

Selling the Problem

Sometimes, target audiences are not aware that they have a problem. Thought leadership can help them to identify these issues and their relevance.

Rather than telling them now Solution X solves Problem Y, thought leaders can establish the significance of Problem Y – thus driving them to seek Solution X. This strategy seeks to build trust with audiences through the demonstration of knowledge.

Boost your Message

There are a range of approaches to boosting the reach of thought leadership. These include:

  • Digital Marketing and SEO – Marketing content needs to be optimised with relevant keywords, to attract a target audience. Insights from thought leadership content can be pulled out into relevant digital marketing campaigns and content.
  • Promotion and repurposing – Thought leadership content, commentary and communications can be promoted and repurposed through marketing and communications channels, including content marketing strategies, PR, social media and e-mail marketing.
  • Collaborations – Examples of these include speaking engagements, guest writing, and discussions with other thought leaders.
  • Sales enablement and talking points – drawing out insights and narratives for Sales and Business Development colleagues to discuss with clients and prospects.

A successful thought leadership campaign involves many different components, from research to narrative building, to content creation and content activation. Done right, thought leadership can help businesses to demonstrate their expertise, communicate with prospective clients, engage and retain talent internally, and ultimately drive sales, revenue and business growth.

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