Why Thought Leadership Sells Better Than Self Promotion

Light Bulb ConceptOdds are, you’re awesome. You just don’t need to tell everyone about it to drive that point home.

We are often tasked with getting our clients in the pages of industry publications and on stage for conference sessions. Many clients assume these are opportunities to promote themselves – a chance to explain what they do, what the company does and how they do it well.

Yet, there is a fine line.

Yes, the reason you’ve been chosen to appear on one of these platforms is because you or your team is doing something interesting, innovative or both. But the less you can talk about it in a self- or company-specific manner, the better. That’s because thought leadership sells better than self-promotion.

For instance, let’s say your company developed the first multi-touch attribution software for multifamily. An industry publication reaches out and wants you to write a byline piece discussing the technology. Rather than using the space to explain how your software works and why your company is exceedingly forward-thinking, you can talk about the importance of multi-touch attribution and how it can help owner/operators optimize their marketing spend to maximize ROI.

Passing on knowledge in a way that helps your customer (and the audience for the publication) improve their businesses is more compelling than a sales pitch for your products or services.

Same thing holds true on a conference panel. If the session is about good and bad fees passed along to residents, talk in general about why some fees might be well received and others might alienate renters. Talk about the balance of earning ancillary income through fees without pushing your residents out the door.

Sure, opportunities will exist to factor in an anecdotal reference involving your company or to relay something specific you’ve done that aligns with the topic. But the more tastefully they are woven in, the better it will be received. And when doing so, make sure to deflect credit to your team members rather than absorbing it yourself.

The above examples both pertain to multifamily, but for a more general case, think of a professional sports announcer. A large quantity of these are former players, and their experience is why they’re on the set. But viewers don’t want to hear about their playing days or even their former team every few seconds.

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, for instance, has become an immediate sensation in the booth. The vivacious personality helps, but Romo often breaks down strategies, formations and certain plays without alluding to his playing days. He comes across as extremely deft in his analysis without constantly reminding the viewers of his credentials.

There are times when he talks about his playing days, but it’s usually if asked about them by another member of the broadcast team. As such, his references to his time on the gridiron are easily digestible.

As a public relations firm, one of our jobs is to communicate this concept as best we can to our clients. While many are fully aware, we’re the safety net that helps prepare them for interviews, byliners and speaking opportunities without being too self-promotional.

The better you are as a thought leader, the less you’ll have to remind people how you got there.

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