But therein lies the rub – we are taught in business from the very early years , that headline-grabbing figures of growth, size, and market domination are all good things. In fact the City literally demands to know your quarter on quarter performance and woe betide those who underperform. But companies can often get too caught up in the ‘me’ and forget about the ‘you’. Do your customers really want to be repeatedly told of your success – to be bludgeoned by unrelenting news of your size in the market and how many users or systems you have sold? Will they flock to your banner if you give them your latest profitability and revenue figures and tell them how really well you are doing and enjoying the benefits of their custom? Or do they really want to hear about how you are going to help them get to the next level; help them to grow and flourish in their particular market? And all the time you are monologuing, you could be missing out on having a dialogue over, say, social media. This is where talking to your market about their market can set you apart from your competition and from those people who are determined to win the contest about who has the most users or systems sold, or for that matter, bells and whistles on their product or service. Your customers want to hear that you understand their market – that you understand their problems. They will sit up and listen if you can identify with the issues and drivers in their space, but they’ll be ecstatic if you can demonstrate that you are proactively pursuing a programme of activity in your product or service that actively addresses the needs that you have shown you understand. Thought leadership is where you separate yourself from the gaggle of other suppliers in your space. Being prepared to stand up and be counted in recognising your customers’ issues and their market drivers and highlighting that you can do something to help, will elevate you to market leader status not based on size, but based on reputation. Yes, there remains a place for talking of your successes – of proof points with customer stories and case studies – but this should be the undertone, not the main thrust of your messaging machine. A well prepared and executed campaign of thought leadership – relentless thought leadership – will attract the attention of the commentators in your industry also; the journalists and analysts whose job it is to talk to the market about the market. Give these valuable contacts the material they need, making it easy for them by giving it to them in a timely and consumable manner, and you’ll steal the lion’s share of their coverage, getting even more people pointing at you as the perceived market leader. Not because you are biggest – but because you demonstrate you truly understand the market. Ashley Carr is Managing Director of Neo PR.
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