Going into 2021, businesses and brands will need to readjust and refocus their PR efforts. The pandemic is still raging, and traditional in-person PR events and stunts for brand awareness are still out of the question—2021 will be the year for thought leadership.
Why thought leadership?
The pandemic has made the past year difficult for businesses and this will continue for the foreseeable future, meaning that traditional lead generation marketing will be tough for companies that have been hit hardest by COVID. It is not enough to put out fires when they arise and focus on short term goals, a brand must make an impact and focus on its longevity.
In 2021, the most successful businesses and CMOs will be those who continuously reinvent themselves to fit the societal and emotional needs of their customers. A thought leader looks for opportunities to lead discussions, providing guidance and understanding to others, and demonstrating clarity and vision in times of uncertainty. There are currently over a billion blogs online, not only is it a competition to gain a significant consumer base, but it is essential to provide meaningful and helpful content that both establishes you as a thought leader and creates genuine bonds between customer and business.
Becoming a thought leader and creating a meaningful brand ensures customer trust and consequently repurchase intent: 70 percent of meaningful brands have higher rates of repurchase intention compared to only 30 percent of brands who are not considered meaningful.
Release educational content
Search engines rank content-based pages higher than pages which offer services and products. Releasing educational based content allows you to share your expertise with others, establishing you as a leader in your industry and building authority in your brand. Capitalize on the E-A-T Google algorithm. Google wants to prioritize content that is not only relevant but is also correct, giving precedence to pages that display Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, not sites that are potentially harmful to consumers mental, physical, or financial wellbeing.
With such a heavily saturated market, it is important to keep producing and updating your customers with new information, producing consistent, up-to-date educational content can lead to an increase in traffic gains by over 25 percent, second only to translational texts. When establishing your content as E-A-T it is important to consider what your audience wants to know and provide a simple yet all-encompassing answer.
Using links or simply mentioning authoritative and trusted sources is another way to boost these factors in your own content and sharing details and contact information for your business will increase trustworthiness by appearing transparent and accessible. Releasing information that will help and inform your customer is a great way to align your brand as meaningful and encourage recurring interest.
Assets and the functional benefits of a business are an essential foundation for success, but these elements alone are not enough to transcend this global crisis. By adding value to your content, you can increase word of mouth and become a meaningful thought-leader. With an inevitable recession pending, customers will be more discerning with where they spend: looking for businesses that are both ethically and financially valuable.
Forrester predicts that, during 2021, spending on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30 percent. It is important to appeal to the beliefs and values of your target market, you need to acknowledge how your customers feel and what they need in these difficult times. In his book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman introduces five ideas that create emotional intelligence:
- Self-awareness: knowing you brand, what you can offer, and how you are publicly perceived.
- Empathy: how will your marketing be received? What will the customer get out of this transaction and will it make a positive difference in their lives?
- Social skills: communicate effectively with your customers, make your interactions authentic and transparent.
- Motivation: what do you want to achieve and how do you want to be perceived?
- Self-regulation: set aside your self interest and insincerity to focus primarily on the customer.
People are more likely to engage with your output if they feel that their values, desires, and emotions are being acknowledged and respected. October might be mental health month but 2021 is the year of mental health. Recognize the pain points of your audience and target these issues in your communication, this identification will create positive brand sentiment.
Going into 2021, face to face interactions will not be viable so it is vital that your business uses technology to its full advantage. For example, it is estimated that by the end of 2020, 50 percent of all searches will come from voice command, generally these will be asked in a conversational tone so your business may need to re-evaluate its keywords. Creating a VR demonstration of your product or services can help the customer gain insight that may not have otherwise been possible without in person interaction.
Relating back to emotional intelligence and relating to the customer, personalizing your emails to include the recipient’s name, city, interests can increase sales by 10 percent. Go the extra mile technologically to engage with your clientele, it will reap results.
Never stop learning
To be a thought-leader and provide inspiration and advice for others, it is important that you too continue to learn and grow. Find mentors, take online classes, reach out to people who inspire you and hear their ideas and insights. There is so much free content online which you can access and gain knowledge from—blogs, podcasts, YouTube and even the likes of TikTok and Reddit can provide fascinating perspectives on your consumers wants and the social issues that are important to them. Your competition is constantly posting content that you can learn from and improve on.
The world of PR is constantly evolving and a thought leader must learn and adapt, 2021 is a time of great change and now is the time to lead the discussion and become a thought leader.