Hacking the growth of an e-commerce startup would take a village. And today is the toughest era to be in business, because in a split second, any leader in any market can fall in an instant.
Competition is fierce, and new players continue to flood the market with new and improved products, including disruptive ones that only the unicorns would be able to deliver. This new age requires more than the scientific and data-based deliverance of new ideas. Customers in this age are thirsty for solid expertise that they can trust.
Without strong growth hacking strategies, an e-commerce startup might not be able to see daylight after the first year. And one of the proven ways to execute those strategies is by using thought leadership in content marketing.
With the right strategies and execution, an e-commerce startup can expect to see business growth early. In this article, we’ll discuss how thought leadership in content marketing works and how you can develop the most appropriate thought leadership strategies.
Growth Hacking: A process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. (Source: Wikipedia)
Thus, who are “growth hackers“? They’re a team comprises of marketers, engineers, and product managers whose primary job is focusing on building and engaging the users to ensure business growth. For this, various metrics are used, including but not limited to social media shares, membership, web site traffic, and others.
Content Marketing: Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
Thought Leadership: Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas, turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. (Source: Thought Leadership Lab by Denise Brosseau)
Thought leadership requires tapping into the business founder’s talents, experiences, and passions relating to answering customers’ pain points or something else in entirety. The term “business founder” is used as an example here, which can be substitute with any board or management member of the business, whose advance skills are worth sharing and can be capitalized to leverage the business brand.
Some thought leaders are already known for their personal brands. They’ve been recognized as the go-to persons who can provide the best and the deepest answers in ways that are easy to consume and understand. This explains why many thought leaders are invited to join a startup’s board membership and management team.
It goes without saying that thought leadership can be crucial in content marketing and, eventually, in growth marketing.
For instance, when a thought leader writes for the company blog or publishes a book that attracts many readers, both the personal and business brands are elevated. Shane Snow’s Smartcuts, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, all elevated their own and their companies’ brands. Neil Patel, Ramit Sethi, and Darren Rowse’s blogs also propelled themselves to the thought leadership realm, which can be capitalized to promote their businesses in the future.
First, understand your strengths and the startup’s UVP (unique value proposition). For instance, an e-commerce startup’s UVP differs from other types of startups. And yours is different from other competitors.
Make sure to be able to discern the true voice from the noises out there. Be unique and be courageous enough to be different. Differentiate your point of view and let it shine through your ideas and creative endeavors.
Second, conduct a thorough research on the subject you’ve chosen. For instance, if you’re focusing on the problem solution your startup provides, strive to obtain comprehensive knowledge on all possible pain points. Think like customers, but provide solutions like the most experienced person out there.
The more comprehensive you can provide answers with both science, statistics, and expertise, the more credible you’d sound. In return, prospects and customers would trust you more.
Third, recognize your customers’ pain points comprehensively and understand how your startup can provide solutions in ways that the competitors don’t. However, the angle or perspective that you present the ideas should be authoritative and different from other experts and thought leaders.
If you can deliver your thoughts uniquely and creatively, it would be ideal, as you’d be able to show the world that not only your value proposition is unique, but also your delivery approaches. For this, you’d need to choose the most appropriate distribution channels.
Fourth, find the distribution channels for your thought leadership works. Blogs, e-books, podcasts, Youtube videos, social media shares, and webinars are very popular, relatively low-cost, and can be accessed from anywhere. The thing is, no two social media networks are identical, so you’d need to approach each one of them properly and deep understanding.
Adapt your thought leadership ideas to the distribution channels. Re-use content whenever possible. For instance, deliver the statistics based on your research as texts, slides, and graphs. If you use case studies, they can be re-packaged as blog posts, e-books, slides, podcasts, white papers, and other collaterals.
Fifth, invite knowledgeable individuals, prospects, customers, and other experienced and influential people to provide input and feedback. They can provide ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and different perspectives before, during, and after creating the thought leadership works.
Sixth, continue to position yourself as an individual and brand-related thought leader, so your business will also be strategically visible everywhere you go. This attachment is strategic, meaning that if you’d need to remove it, you can do it.
For instance, Richard Branson, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Guy Kawasaki are thought leaders in their own right. As you know, they have multiple businesses, invest in various startups, and serve as members of multiple boards of directors. Those are their thought leadership assets, which they can capitalize at any time to underscore their new startups.
In conclusion, today is the era of thought leadership. You can and should position yourself as an expert or “thought leader” in areas that you’re comfortable with, based on your talents, skills, and knowledge, which are valuable to the public. Being a respected thought leader would allow you to leverage your own personal brand to any startup that you’re related to, including your own e-commerce startup.
Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is a digital strategist for Oberlo and blogs at JenniferXue.com. Her works have been published in Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Business.com, Business2Community, Good Men Project, and many others.
Nov 17. 2017
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