Thought Leadership in Three Easy Steps

With the advent of blogs, e-newsletters, and Webinars, you can quickly establish a thought-leadership position in your industry. It can take only a few minutes, and it’s cheap!

That’s the message email expert Eileen Shulock brought to the recent New York Women in Communications meeting, with a sly caveat, “Provided you have a thought!”

Not a problem, for most of us business-to-business (B2B) marketers, who have lots of expertise and case studies to spare.

Shulock juggles multiple careers as VP of marketing at Vivre, a catalog and online luxury goods purveyor; as a writer for a leading e-commerce site; and as an email marketing trainer for the American Management Association. She led the group through her three easy steps to gain near-instant credibility and visibility.

Got a Few Minutes? Write a Quick Business Blog

You might think setting up a blog is a major project. It isn’t. You can visit one of the major blog sites, such as Blogger, Squarespace, or TypePad, and launch your blog within a few minutes.

Shulock says it’s a great time to start a business blog. The field is relatively young and there aren’t a lot of established players who blog in most industries. In addition to text, you can upload images and incorporate links to resources, including your own Web site. And because a blog is more of a journal entry than an article by nature, you can share your thoughts on the fly.

Have a tip to share with your target audience? Jot a quick blog entry rather than labor over a full-fledged article (as I’m doing now!). You’ll spend minutes instead of hours on concentrated writing.

Shulock refers newbies to Business Blog Consulting for examples of good business blogs, teleseminars, and advice.

E-Newsletters the Cheap and Easy Way

OK, you know you should have an e-newsletter. But the prospect of designing, distributing, and tracking one is daunting, right? Not so, if you work with an email marketing service, such as Constant Contact, ExactTarget, or IMN.

All have e-newsletter templates to choose from, will help you build and manage permission-based email lists, and track campaign results for a nominal monthly fee.

With a proliferation of e-newsletters, yours must be a bit different to stand out. Shulock cited research that says most people have a limit of 16 e-newsletters they will subscribe to at any one time (and you know they’re not reading all of them). My own take (after a year of publishing a long, text-based e-newsletter) is shorter is better. Give readers a few short tips they can really use on a regular basis. It’s less of a burden on you, as well as your time-deprived readers.

Webinars: Host One in Less Time Than It Takes to Say “PowerPoint”

Webinars aren’t just for big companies. Easily produce your own by posting your PowerPoint presentations on sites such as WebEx, IMConferencing, and WebConference.com.

I’ve participated as a guest in Webinars and landed business as a result. It’s definitely worth a try. And Webinars are way easier than hosting a live event, for which you’d need to book (and pay for) a room.

Check out this page as a starting point for creating your own Webinar.

What Are You Waiting For?

Hearing these ideas made me want to start blogging right away, revive my e-newsletter, and turn all my corporate training materials into Webinars.

Then, I did a reality check and remembered it all starts with strategy, which I’m currently developing with my business coach. Though I’m very excited about these possibilities, I need to think about what my target audience: marketing managers at major companies, associations, and nonprofits, really need to hear from me.

Before you become a thought leader, make sure you have a good thought. It must be on-strategy and lead to revenue-producing opportunities.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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