July 29, 2021

Meeting Topics 30 July 2021 – 13 August 2021 – Growth: Harnessing Thought Leadership for Explosive Business Growth by Verity Craft Intelligent Ink – Writing for Business Growth – Watch Your Tone! By Jo Morris

Meeting Topics 30 July 2021 – 13 August 2021 – Growth: Harnessing Thought Leadership for Explosive Business Growth by Verity Craft Intelligent Ink – Writing for Business Growth – Watch Your Tone! By Jo Morris

Writing for Business Growth – Watch Your Tone!

Meeting Topic

Intro/Summary for meeting topic prep:

Growing your business often depends on standing out from your competitors – but how do you do that effectively?

One way is through thought leadership. A practice that involves consistently developing and communicating your ideas, thought leadership helps you grow your business, connect and widen your community, generate leads, and improve your business.

But how can you do that?

Own a position in your market – get really clear on your purpose, what you are the expert in, and the need that your audience has. The intersection between those things is where you can add the most value and claim a unique position.

Add value to the conversation – instead of creating content for content’s sake, think about the unique perspective you can add, and how you’re adding value or moving the conversation forward.

Build and connect with your audience – focus on building real connections with a smaller group of people, rather than broadcasting to everyone.

And more …

Set aside time to read the rest of the article and then, for your 60-second introduction, consider how you could advance the conversations in your industry? What are the ideas that you could share more widely to both help more people and become known as the authority in your field?

Harnessing Thought Leadership for Explosive Business Growth by Verity Craft

Many people think of thought leadership as a content marketing buzzword – but it’s so much more than that.

I’m sure many of you are asking, ‘Verity – what the hell IS thought leadership?!?’

Basically, thought leadership is a practice of consistently coming up with, developing, and communicating your ideas so that those ideas can spread and have a bigger impact. The way that you share those ideas may vary – content marketing, new business offerings, speaking, etc. – but it’s the combo of doing the thinking and sharing the thinking that matters.

Thought leadership is a strategic decision to own a unique position in your industry and do the deep thinking that will help you stay ahead of the rest of the field. It’s also a fantastic way to grow your business, connect and widen your community, generate leads, and improve your business.

So here’s what it takes to use thought leadership to grow your business and change your industry.

Own a position in your market

We all want to stand out.

When your market’s busy with other organisations and people doing similar things – products with the same basic functions, similar aesthetics, competitively priced services – you want (and need) to create a point of difference. To do that, you’ve got to say (and do) something different to the others in the crowd.

To find that unique position, I always suggest taking a PEN to it:

  • NEED

Think about what drives you – why you do what you do. Then consider what you are the MOST expert in – what can you do better than virtually anyone else, or what do you know the most about? Finally, think closely about your ideal target market – what is their biggest need?

At the intersection of those is where you’ll find your unique position. Then, it’s just a case of looking at all your offerings and the content you put out and asking yourself ‘does this paint a picture of me as the go-to for that topic?’

Adding value to the conversation

All great growth starts with an idea. Thought leadership sees you create a new category within your market that’s driven by intelligent contributions that people want to hear, rather than unnecessary waffle. Here’s an example: It’s not pushing out blogs on ‘the ten best couches today’ but instead driving a conversation on why and how you believe your brand’s USP and values help raise the standard of, say, sofa sustainability or what need is not currently being met in furniture design for people with disabilities.

Ideas are the currency of leaders. The more you speak out about the successes and pitfalls of your industry – and the kinds of transformations you’d like to see – the more people will come to you for insights, and to support you and your organisation as those in the know.

Build and connect with your audience

To grow, you need a community behind you – and thought leadership is an awesome way to build a community of people who support, empower, and challenge your work and thinking. It’s a conversation with your market.

We say this because thought leadership doesn’t assume that you know best – but that you’re in pursuit of better. That’s a journey of learning and growth on which you can bring your audience and market along.

Part of that comes with listening. Thought leadership isn’t about tooting your own horn all the time. Listen to your community, ask for their advice and feedback, and let their questions inform how you shape or communicate your next big idea. Not only will having constructive conversations build your audience, but you’ll also form meaningful connections in your industry and potentially across to other industries too.

Think about what value you’re offering. A thought leader shares ideas in a way that will improve their audience’s work or personal lives (or ideally, both!); they build trust and give a reason for customers – potential or current – to choose you over the competition, irrespective of price. And those raving fans become advocates for you, working harder to showcase your work and USP to their friends and colleagues – who’ll go and spread the good word about your work. Easy.

Prime leads to work with you

Sharing your thinking can help get your ideas in front of a bigger audience. But more importantly, it gets your ideas and your business in front of a more engaged audience.

Owning a thought leadership position means leads will already be primed to work with you. They’ll have read your articles, attended your webinars, watched your videos or tried out your methods; they may have heard your name mentioned in an article by an industry peer eager to showcase your thinking. Your content and ideas will have helped the qualification process and ensure your leads are committed to working with you – and chomping at the bit to get started.

By focussing on potentially fewer, more dedicated clients, you’ll be able to focus on growing your business and offerings – and continue to develop the thinking that has people queueing out the door to work with you.

Spark your thinking and creativity

Thought leadership is great at expanding your community, bringing in leads and making awesome connections. But it can also have just as much of an impact internally as it does externally.

When you embed thought leadership into your business strategy, you foster better thinking. You start thinking critically, and stay motivated, engaged, and inspired to continually improve what you offer and how you do it.

If things are feeling a bit flat and you’re needing a strike of inspiration, thought leadership might be just the thing you and your business need to head out into a new territory. When you’re thinking your best, that’s when your business is primed to perform and grow.

Making the strategic decision

Let go of the idea that marketing and sales are the only way to grow your business. They’re vital for getting you recognised, but investing in communication simply for communications’ sake might be holding you back from your true potential – and inadvertently getting you lost in the crowd.

Thought leadership shouldn’t be seen as ‘supersized comms’ but instead an approach that opens you up to driving forward not just your business, but also the industry you’re in. That means it’s going to take some work. It’s not something that can be embedded overnight.

To successfully adopt thought leadership as a strategy for growing your business, you’ve got to invest time in it – to really THINK and put careful consideration behind it. But making that investment means you can have a greater impact than you ever thought possible.

So, what’s holding you back?

You can learn more about how Verity helps her clients build credibility in their market and become thought leaders here: https://www.intelligentink.co.nz/

Next Meeting Topic

Introduction for meeting topic discussion:

This article is contributed by Jo Morris, ‘the Write Coach’. Whether you’re a plumber, an interior designer or a lawyer, writing is an essential part of your brand. Your writing – your website, your social media, your emails, and your promotional materials – will set the tone for how you engage with clients, who those clients are and how they regard you. To grow your business, you need to ensure that your writing showcases what’s great about it.

In preparation for this week’s one-minute intro, ask yourself – ‘How do I want my business to come across to my prospects and clients? Does this translate to the language I’m currently using on my website, my emails, or my promotional materials? If not, what do I need to change?’ and share your thoughts.

Writing for Business Growth – Watch Your Tone! by Jo Morris

Writing for business exists on a continuum. At one end is the most formal English, like how the Queen speaks and writes (Well, I assume she writes like she speaks – she’s never emailed me.). At the other end is slang, which most people don’t understand– think of teenagers you know. In between is standard English – like TV1 News – and casual – the everyday language of New Zealanders. And, of course, all the other shades along the continuum.

What does this all look like when it’s happening? Well, let’s suppose a range of people go to a seminar, and everyone enjoys it. Their comments might range from, “An excellent presentation, through “It was bloody good,” to “That seminar was hella lit.” (My daughter helped me with that last one.)

Getting the language of your business right involves making a conscious decision about where you want to sit on this continuum. Getting the tone right – so everything you write suits your business, reaches your target market, and sounds like you – can be harder than you think. Small details like your call to action, your punctuation, or your email salutations can help set that tone.

When you’re deciding on a call to action, think about the difference in formality between: ‘Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions,’ ‘Call me. Now!’ and, ‘Hit me in the DM’s.’ The first is a gentle invitation, the second an order, and the third targets the social-media-savvy generation. Your choice will depend on who you’re targeting, but also on what feels the most authentic to you as a person and as a business.

Speaking of Facebook, punctuation has evolved along with the internet. Two markers of casual English are exclamation marks and emojis. It’s become commonplace to use both in online chat (think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger). However, both should be used sparingly, if at all, in emails and your website. A good rule of thumb for emojis in emails is to use them only when your client does first.

Personally, I find email salutations – how to open and close your email – a nightmare. I think this is because emails feel somehow less formal than letters. With letters, there was a clear hierarchy from formal (Dear Sir/Madam /Yours faithfully) to friendly (Dear Liz/Love) Now, it’s much less clear. Do I use a Maori greeting, like ‘Kia ora’ or ‘Tena koe’? Or do I open with ‘Dear’ (transferring this from my letter-writing days)? Or ‘Hello’? Or ‘Hi’? And when closing, do I use ‘Nga mihi’? Kind regards? Just ‘Regards’? or ‘Cheers’?

Like many pākehā, I suspect, I’d love to use Maori salutations but am nervous about getting it wrong. I’m not going to offer specific advice because of this, but ask a Te Reo fluent friend – or try a website like Victoria University’s https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/maori-hub/ako/te-reo-at-university/maori-greetings-and-phrases  or the Te Taura Whiri ‘Maori for the Office’: https://tetaurawhiri.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/c5dd6c6bfd/Te-Reo-o-te-Tari-Phrases.pdf

When beginning an email formally, I like ‘Greetings’ or ‘Hello’. Less formal would be ‘Hi’ or ‘Hi there.’ The least formal – so be careful using it – is ‘Hey!’ As for your ending, you might be able to relate it to the content of the email. For example, you could write, ‘Thanks so much,’ or ‘Looking forward to our meeting.’ Otherwise, formal endings might be ‘Regards,’ ‘All the best,’ or even ‘Sincerely.’ If you’d like to be less formal, you might choose, ‘Cheers,’ ‘As ever,’ or ‘Best.’ In an email chain with colleagues, you probably don’t need an opener at all, and a simple sign off with your first name is enough.

When you’re thinking about the written language of your own business, consider your ideal clients. For example, a lawyer might decide to keep her writing reasonably formal, because she wants to appear knowledgeable and trustworthy. A counsellor might aim for conversational or even chatty, to appear warm and inviting.

Whatever tone you decide on, check that it’s consistent across all writing aimed at your target market.

Happy Writing!

You can find out more about Jo’s experience and how she helps her clients get their tone right here: https://thewritecoach.nz/

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