Being an industry leader is more accessible than ever before. With the democratization of marketing through web, social platforms and smaller agencies, new industry leaders are being born everyday. There is nothing stopping you from being the next leader in your industry.
It’s no longer only accessible to the Goliaths of the world. Having the privilege of working with some Davids, we have witnessed and helped these smaller organizations become authentic leaders in their industries.
We’ve learned through experience that there are 5 key aspects that contribute to being a real deal industry leader:
1) YOU NEED A PIONEER
To build an industry leader, it takes a pioneer with a vision. The pioneers we’ve worked with are CEOs or Executive Directors who have taken on the massive task of bringing an archaic organization into the 21st century with an innovative approach. And change, while inevitable, is hard – pioneers have to push boundaries and their staff to see their vision’s holy light and merrit. They are ambassadors of innovation and leaders in their approach.
These innovative thinkers recognize the need to break through barriers with limited resources at their fingertips. They challenge the status quo and work hard with their team to see their vision come to life. They recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built in 72 days either.
2) SOLID STRATEGY
No industry leaders were ever created without a solid strategy. The strategic approach these individuals have taken have been clear and succinct. It takes a deep understanding of their organization and their gaps. Once you’ve identified the gaps, it takes laser-focused energy on that key barrier to know how to push through it.
Start with a competitor analysis, it will lead you to your value proposition. We know it more commonly as the ‘value prop’ and it’s the differentiator that sets your organization apart from the competition. It allows your organization to embrace and focus on one main reason your customers work with you. See Competitor Analysis and Key Message to get step by step process to uncover your own.
After a strategy is defined, the innovation and creativity comes into play. Strategy is only the tip of the iceberg, the manifestation of this strategy is the bulk of the work. Your strategy will be challenged over and over again, which is why you’re going to need that pioneer. Leaders will help push for it.
3) LOOK OUTSIDE YOUR INDUSTRY
Once you’ve established your value prop, look to other industries to see how they execute on these strategies and how they convey their similar value props. You need only look to parallel issues that may arise in B2B or B2C organizations. The best contenders to stack yourself up against are generally similarly structured organizations. Seek out their structure and the solutions they provide to the problem. Similar to a competitor analysis, put the top contenders side by side and establish which solution or combination of solutions suits your needs best.
This doesn’t only apply to marketing as a whole, it applies to elements of your marketing as well. Examples include your website, promotional materials, promotional campaigns and so on.
4) GRIT – ESPECIALLY DURING EXECUTION
Grit. If you haven’t already watched the TedTalk by Angela Lee Duckworth on Grit, here it is. Grit, to Angela, is the key to success. “Grit is having stamina. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon – not a sprint.” This is exactly our experience with working with industry leaders. Innovation requires Grit.
Execution is often the largest roadblock in the process of rolling out a new innovative project. Sticking to the strategy and committing to it is half the battle. Doubts creep through when you hit roadblocks and – no ifs ands or buts – they will happen. Roadblocks are inevitable when you’re doing something different. However, the perseverance of a team dedicated and laser-focused on the end goal is what always helps us to push through.
Unfortunately with anything innovative, you can never predict what the roadblocks are, whether that’s in strategic design, programming, production and so forth. The list can go on, but with a strong set of tools in your toolbox and an experienced team to handle unexpected elements in the project is foundational.
Don’t go into execution until you have a clear strategy in place. Your team will already be handling unexpected problems, it’s even worse to pile on suggestions after the fact. This will waste time for you and your marketing agency. Establish the strategy and dare to stick to it.
5) AUTHENTICITY – DUH
Audiences are sophisticated, educated and well-researched and if you treat them as such, they will respect you. Alternatively, if you are using marketing as a way to trick, manipulate or coax people into buying your service or product, you can kiss your success buh-bye. Audiences can smell that nonsense from a mile away. The moment your organization embraces your values and starts celebrating the organization’s authentic self, you’ll draw in like-minded individuals who will celebrate with you through endorsements and engagement. Being an industry leader means winning the hearts of your target audience. To do so, your organization must be true to who you are.
This leads me to my next point. Being your authentic self, means your organization has a unique personality. This translates into unique opportunites to express yourself and relate to your audiences. If your organization can identify it and truly speak to it, you’ll have a brand that’s all your own which will stand out from your competitors. The way you market and express yourself will also be unique in your approach to reaching out and communicating with your audience.
These are the 5 foundational tools for any successful industry leader. If you have these 5 elements, you’re set up for success and you’ll be able to tackle any strategy you put into place.
If you want to learn more about specific key elements of an effective marketing plan, read our 50+ page booklet on How to Write A Strategic Marketing Plan That Yields ROI – complete with explanations