- by Rory Ramsden
Trite advice about becoming a market leader is everywhere. It is even proffered by the Harvard Business Review. Their ideas include public speaking, appearing on TV and publishing a book. This sound much more like ‘self-promotion’ than thought leadership.
You may get to do one or more of these three eventually but first you have to do some THINKING and publish great CONTENT as a result. When you are ready, the people who matter – your customers – will find you.
It’s important that you do things in the right order
Becoming well known in your niche may make you a market leader but it does not necessarily make you a thought leader too. The former may have done all of the above and be a gifted self-publicist but ultimately may just be a blow hard who is regurgitating old concepts. The latter is a a niche authority who synthesizes and gives meaning to innovative and sometimes game-changing ideas.
Being vertically famous has many benefits especially when it comes to launching new products. You have market recognition. Your audience will prefer to buy from you because of who you are and not necessarily because what you know. But if you want to break into a new market, the very first step in getting recognized as a thought leader is having creative and compelling ideas worth talking about.
Here are 6 ways to get you started…
#1. Total Immersion – Put in the hard graft and totally immerse yourself in your chosen market. Understand the nuances and watch the trends as they develop. Read, question, listen and most important of all think through the implications of what you learn. Malcolm Gladwell said that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become truly expert in a field.
If you’re into internet marketing, you would do well to know who Rich Schefren, Jeff Walker and Frank Kern are; if you’re a windsurfer, you’d better understand the nuances in performance difference between Formula equipment and the RS:X Olympic One Design. You can’t butt heads with the establishment before you can play on their chosen ground.
The implications of this for those wanting to do a product launch are simple. If you don’t know your competitors and their products almost as well as they do, you will find it hard to position your offer to gain the maximum traction in the minimum time.
#2. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know – This is where you get to strut your stuff having done all that questioning and listening. Here is where you synthesize what you have learned and put a new spin on it to give your audience fresh insights. Innovating solutions to old problems is what Steve Jobs was a master at. He just took a proven market and applied his engineering genius to come up with a fresh way of providing what his fans really wanted although they may not have known it at the time.
Henry Ford did the same. He’d didn’t offer his customers a faster horse. he transformed their expectations and their lives with the Model T.
When you are in product creation mode, you’d do well to follow their lead by disrupting the market to such and extent that you create a new market altogether. You instantly become the thought leader and leave your competitors scrambling to catch up. Combine this approach with a powerful product launch marketing strategy and the trite self publicist will pale into insignificance.
#3. Discover a Niche – There’s a micro-niche out there with your name on it. All you have to do is discover it. This requires a lot more than looking at keywords and demographics which is why ‘total immersion’ is a must. It’s the only way to really understand what is really going on inside the heads of your core audience. When you do, you can compare the solutions your competitors are providing with what the market really wants. You may get lucky and find something that isn’t being covered at all but is in desperate need of a solution. But there may be a good reason why no-one has done so yet, so make sure you validate that niche before pouring time and effort into providing the solution.
The only way to be sure that you are onto a winner is to make some sales using the seed product launch strategy
#4. Customer Centric Thinking – “We consciously think about making great products. We don’t think, ‘Let’s be innovative!” so sayeth Mr Jobs. It’s this approach, the one that looks beyond the obvious solution to look deeper at what your customer really wants more than anything that will help you break out of the straight jacket in which your competitors find themselves.
Brainstorm your way to a new product rather than taking existing products apart and finding what you can do better. Do this by all means, but don’t leave your research there. Dig deeper by asking the ‘What if” question and surface the fundamental challenge that your core audience is struggling with.
#5. Express a Clear Vision – Giving your market a clear vision of what you stand for means they can instantly get the gist of what you are all about. Aim to answer the first two questions that comes into their heads
- The first is usually ‘Why I should I stay to find out more“
- And the second is “What’s in it for me ?“
Answer each in 140 characters or less focuses your mind on the important issues at hand and tells your customers that they have finally found what they are looking for. As a thought leader if you cannot distill the essence of your passion to help your prospects simply, you are not ready for the final stage…
#6. Do a Product Launch – Now that you have done your homework, it is time to launch yourself as an expert authority in your chosen subject and there is no quicker or more effective way of doing this than by executing a product launch or more precisely a series of product launches. The momentum you gain from the first will position you as the thought leader in your niche
The whole process is designed to engage your core audience and give you time to prove that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Your launch story – the golden thread that ties your pre-launch sequence together – will start by giving your audience the gist of what is to come and hook them in by putting your finger on their pain point. They will instantly know that they have found a kindred spirit who understands where and why they are stuck.
Moving the free line by giving away powerful tips that help people move towards their goal creates excitement and anticipation. Your pre-launch will pre-qualify prospects so when you pivot to talk about your offer, all they ware waiting for is the full details of what they want to buy.
Becoming an expert takes time. Transforming yourself into a thought leader happens in the few days or weeks that it takes to launch your new product. An expert is only known by his peer group. A thought leader has public recognition too. He or she is well known in their vertical for the value that they give, for under promising and over delivering and for providing fresh solutions to the real challenges that their core audience is facing.
If you have not done a launch before or even if you have and now realize that hiring a launch manager would be a smart thing to do, you may be wondering how much hiring a product launch manager will cost. The quick answer is not as much as you might expect. Our aim is to structure a win-win sort of a deal with clients. We get paid when you get paid. That is we work on a percentage of the ‘pre-return’s gross’ revenue that your product launch makes. Naturally, you have to pay a fee to get on our calendar. We can only take on 2 or 3 clients per year so our time is valuable and we must know what our schedule is well in advance. It would be unfair on our other clients if we didn’t insist on this. Find out more by booking a free consultation with me now