Thought leadership is often regarded as a powerful alternative to traditional marketing, leading many companies to refocus their efforts on this activity. But is thought leadership just a marketing buzzword or can it offer real value to fintech companies?
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly blind to advertising and mass marketing, which is why brand building and maintaining market awareness can seem like an onerous, expensive task.
Yet even if your business is well established in the fintech or financial services sector, it is still vital to make sure that your customers and prospects know who you are, what you stand for, and in which areas you excel more than your competition – all on a continual basis.
Thought leadership is often regarded as a powerful alternative to traditional marketing, leading many companies to refocus their efforts on this activity. But is thought leadership just a marketing buzzword or can it offer real value to fintech and financial services businesses?
Let’s examine the case for thought leadership right here.
Thought leadership – What is it?
Thought leadership can be defined as a way of demonstrating and conveying your unique perspective and insight on industry challenges or hot topics in a way that offers value to your audience. The channels that you use can include:
• Best practice guides
• Forum participation
• Insight articles
• Media commentary
• Primary research
• Trade press advertorial and editorial
• White papers
Essentially, thought leadership is a way to engage with target audiences, whether they are clients, prospects, analysts or the media, on topics that are of interest to them. Preferably, it should be done in ways that deliver educational or insightful content and help the audience to understand and tackle relevant, timely challenges.
Thought leadership is a brilliant way of demonstrating your understanding of industry issues, as well as your expertise around how to address those issues, while promoting your company’s offering in a softer, more indirect way.
What it is not….
To be clear, thought leadership content is not a sales message. It is not about pitching your product or service – which is where many people get it wrong. They end up with a very thinly veiled sales campaign that doesn’t actually offer any genuine value to clients or prospects.
Of course, there is little point in producing thought leadership pieces that do not connect to your product or service at all. The trick is to make sure that you find the right balance between highlighting what you can bring to the table (in terms of expertise and knowledge, as well as products and services) with addressing the needs of your audience.
The value of thought leadership
When you open an industry magazine or attend an event, it may seem that everyone is saying the same thing – blurring messages and companies into one mass of ‘corporate fluff’.
Advertising and other forms of mass marketing can also come and go in the blink of an eye – with thousands spent and not much, if anything, to show for it. These techniques tend to offer little opportunity for interaction or for conveying complex messages and, while they still have their place in the marketing mix, they need to be complemented by other techniques that support interaction, intelligence and real differentiation in company marketing.
This is where thought leadership comes into play and where its real value lies. So, what are the benefits of thought leadership?
- It allows businesses, regardless of their size, to converse with their target audience, giving that audience the information they want on timely topics while building long-term company credibility.
We are all ‘Googling’ the answers to questions or subjects of interest on a daily basis. So if your company appears as an up-to-date source of information that consistently appears in search results for certain topics, it positions you positively in the eyes of your market.
- It is a very cost-effective marketing method of engaging both targeted and broader audiences. By creating a programme of content that can be used across different channels – perhaps including an advertorial, blog, media commentary and white paper – you can get a huge amount of mileage and longevity for a relatively small investment in cost and effort.
Ultimately, you need to pick a subject and angle that is topical for this to be the case, but in the financial services and FinTech sectors – where there is high demand for cost-efficiency, regulation and transparency and the fast pace of technological development is constantly evolving – there is a wide variety of topics that can be addressed over a long time horizon.
To summarise, thought leadership done well should help your business to be found on Google and highlight its expertise. Surely, that can only be a good thing?