Let’s face it—many manufacturers are entrenched in certain organizational practices and mindsets that prevent them from becoming thought leaders within the industry.

Author Radiana Pit | Copperberg

Photo: Freepik

Traditional marketing practices make them resistant to digital marketing which is a more profitable and measurable way of reaching a broader audience. Product-centricity limits their ability to produce content that adds value beyond their offerings. Risk aversion makes them complacent, stifling innovation and preventing them from exploring new ideas and ways of creating value. They are addicted to hoarding knowledge rather than sharing it for fear that it will give their competitors an advantage. 

But to become a thought leader, you need to fight against these bad habits. You need to be willing to share your knowledge and be transparent in order to build trust, you need to put your customers’ needs and pain points first by addressing them with content that resonates. And, most importantly, you need to understand that these bad habits narrow your vision, making you see your objectives only in the short term and prioritize immediate profits over long-term ones that require a sustained commitment to thought leadership.

So, how can your organization break free from the constraints of traditional marketing and foster a culture that will help you become a thought leader? Here’s our 12-step program that encourages acceptance of marketing demands, brand development, knowledge-sharing, organizational resilience, and fostering a community of forward-thinking peers.

1. Admit You’re Stuck in the Past

Acknowledge that traditional practices won’t cut it in the digital age. Conduct a comprehensive audit of your current marketing practices and their effectiveness, and you will immediately see where traditional methods fall short and why you must transition to more digital, data-driven, and content-focused approaches, the progress and impact of which you can track, measure, and adjust as needed.

2. Trust the Power of Content

If you only create content to promote your offerings, you are missing out on opportunities to create value. Content adds value when it shares unique insights, knowledge, and expertise that only you have access to. Whether it’s through blog posts, white papers, reports, or webinars, your content should drive the conversation within the industry and position your organization as a trusted source of information.

3. Turn It Over to the Experts

You don’t need to write the content yourself and you don’t need to face the creative struggles alone. Involve the subject matter experts in your organization to share their input and then partner up with content marketing experts to help you transform that input into a compelling, informative, and engaging piece of content that resonates with your target audience. This not only ensures the quality and relevance of your content but also demonstrates to your audience that you are committed to delivering high-quality information in the way they need it most.

4. Make an Inventory of Your Content Resources

Thought leadership requires time, expertise, and investment in content creation. Especially in times of market volatility, organizations cut back on marketing budgets, but it’s important to remember that content marketing is an essential way to achieve long-term goals and gains. So, focus on your long-term vision and allocate your resources with that in mind.

5. Confess Your Content Marketing Weaknesses

All organizations have them, whether it’s the tendency to create overly technical content that only an engineer could love, or maybe an unhealthy obsession with clickbait headlines that might make you cringe in hindsight, or even struggling to generate engaging ideas. The key is to identify your weaknesses and develop strategies to turn them into opportunities for improvement. 

6. Face Your Fear of Technical Jargon and Buzzwords

You don’t need to “leverage your core competencies” every other sentence. Whether you’re working on a white paper, blog post, or webinar, you should draw from your brand’s unique tone and voice to create content that truly speaks to your audience and delivers your insights in a way that makes sense to everyone from the C-suite to the assembly line. Skilled writers can help you achieve this feat.

7. Ask for Help to Overcome Your Shortcomings

Collaborating with skilled professionals who understand the ins and outs of thought leadership content can be a game-changer. They can extend their insights, skills, best practices, and valuable feedback on your content strategy. You’ll not only overcome your shortcomings with their help but also accelerate your journey toward becoming a recognized thought leader in the industry. It’s like having a mentor with an extra dose of “been there, fixed that” wisdom. 

8. Make Amends with Industry Peers

It may sound counterintuitive but thought leadership has a collaborative rather than competitive spirit. Attending networking events and workshops, like the interactive “Power of 50” hosted by Copperberg, can be a fantastic opportunity for manufacturers to make amends with their industry peers, build mutually beneficial connections, and join a platform to share their knowledge, experiences, and innovations, while also learning from others’ success stories and challenges. Such events are a great way of fostering an environment of collective progress and innovation in the industry. 

9. Make Direct Amends with Your Audience

Shift your content marketing strategy from self-promotion to creating meaningful value for your audience. Instead of product pitches riddled with corporate or technical jargon, create content that actually helps your audience with your expert input on statistics, emerging trends, industry predictions, and so on. Engage with your audience as if they’re your trusted partners, providing them with the type of content that takes them closer to reaching their goals. Collaborate with subject matter experts within your organization or industry to create content that not only informs but also empowers your audience. 

10. Seek Advice and Make Adjustments

When measuring impact and quantifying the tangible return on investment for your thought leadership endeavors becomes a daunting challenge, reach out to your experts and identify areas for improvement in your content strategy. Maybe you need help distributing it. After all, crafting content is one thing, but ensuring it reaches the right audience is another. Or maybe you need to expand your view and offer insights that address broader issues, trends, and innovations affecting the industry. So, seek advice from industry experts, adapt, and diversify your content to make a more meaningful impact.

11. STICK—Stay Thoughtful, Implement Consistency, and Keep Going

Thought leadership is not a one-and-done type of endeavor. It requires consistent, ongoing efforts, otherwise, you may lose momentum over time, which could compromise your long-term gains and undermine the status you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Make thoughtful content creation that addresses your audience’s needs the cornerstone of your strategy. Be consistent to ensure that your message remains strong and reliable. And keep it going to grow as a thought leader. STICK with it!

12. Build Your Legacy

Thought leadership is about creating a lasting impact on your industry. It is a core part of your brand identity that helps guide your peers towards innovation and excellence. And, most importantly, your thought leadership is your legacy—if you do it well, you will help raise the standards, shape the future, and leave a mark on an industry where taking the lead is a small step that makes a huge difference.

Breaking free from traditional practices and embracing this 12-step journey is a bold and necessary move toward becoming a thought leader. It means undergoing yet another transformation journey, this time not for your technological advancement, but for your brand legacy. 

If you’re ready to embark on this journey, Copperberg is here to guide you. We encourage you to join our interactive events, where you can talk directly with industry experts, collaborate with peers, and share your knowledge. And you can count on our expertise in turning your insights into actionable content.

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