Take heart that the busiest marketing season of the year is upon us, and that can be a very good thing for those looking to stand out.

Fact: November and December, the competition online is steeper, advertising rates are higher, and the digital noise is louder. 

Chances are your marketing team is taking the ‘avoid the mall‘ approach, saving on ad spend and generally biding their time to not get lost in the shuffle. And for some, that makes sense.

But, for those companies or consultants with B2C solutions or products, this may be the best time of year to reach customers with your message. (Notice I didn’t say advertising). I’ll come back to this later.

As we approach year end, most marketers’ heads are planted firmly in two places; the past and the future;

The Manager in us wants to look back; to take stock, assess, we review spreadsheets, have meetings and prepare summary documents.

At the same time, the CEO in us is looking ahead; we need a strategy, look forward, build something out, plan ahead, be prepared.

But if we aren’t paying attention, we may miss an opportunity to engage people right where they’re at, now. It may take a more creative approach, it may take another direction entirely than you’re used to –

Here’s why it’s worth stepping up your Thought Leadership right now:

  1. More people are online than ever.

As a result of the pandemic, we’re pushed to our devices for work, play and connection. People not only shop online more frequently, but now rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment. These online behaviors aren’t expected to change in the post-COVID-19 era, either.

And even if you’ve sworn off social media this year, and vowed to scroll no more, my bet is that you still have your favorite channels, podcasts, and sources to connect with, that are more meaningful to you.

So perhaps, what HAS changed, is not so much the complete abolition of online channels but the WAY in which we’ve chosen to use them.

So unless you don’t believe that you have something to offer, which just a fraction of the 4.66 Billion internet users in the world would deem valuable, then it’s worth taking another look at your approach online.

  1. This year has left a gap in leadership.

In the words of writer Paul Taylor, around the Corona pandemic, “If a crisis is a test of character, not everyone has passed it.”

This year has definitely demonstrated that trust is on the decline compounded by eroding trust of network media, polarization of businesses and a heightened derision and lack of support of our leaders (elected and non-elected). A 2020 Edelman study confirms that of our four primary societal institutions — government, business, NGOs and media — none are truly trusted.

The tides aren’t much more forgiving inside the workplace. According to Inc., only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information. 

So where do we turn?

This leaves many well-educated, resourceful people to seek resources, and credible sources, outside of their usual sphere of influence in order to make impartial more informed and unbiased decisions.  This includes everything from car buying, to their health, to their business growth.

They are looking for trusted leaders with a specific skill set – otherwise known as, credible experts.

People that don’t have political backing on the line, who aren’t stymied by bureaucracy, by Boards of Directors, which hinders or prevents real progress, real results, faster. They are more eager than ever to find direct solutions to their problems, today.

But they don’t want to be sold. A survey of 5,000 individuals by Pega revealed that two-thirds of customers don’t believe marketers care about their needs.

-Build loyalty while others are selling. Build trust where others have failed.-

You could think of this as starting your company in a recession – we’re currently in a Leader Recession – and if you are marketing the right way, you’ll be a LOT stronger on the other side of this.

3. We are closer to home.

Literally and figuratively. We are much more interested in our immediate environment, our communities, our neighbourhoods than we were six months ago. How they are adapting and changing – but also our place in them.

Let this be an awakening – if nothing else, get WOKE about this:

-Things matter. Little things. Which all add up to important things.-

Movements such as #Shopsmall and #SupportLocal and #BuyLocal is proof of the world’s desire to strengthen the economic base of their communities by supporting independently owned businesses rather than national chains.

Your messages and marketing, too, should reflect the heart of the consumer. What they care about now becomes paramount to what they thought would make them happy last year, or even 6 months ago. 

This is because companies, consumers, clients – are all made of people.

And people are done with the old way. Of being taken somewhere they don’t want to go. Of trusting people that don’t deliver. Of believing something will change and it never does.

They don’t want talking heads, they don’t want to be sold.

They want someone to step up as a leader in their space and show them another way.

And they’ll pay you attention if you can understand their problems; their employees problems, their families problems, their reputation problems, their lifestyle problems, their health problems – and who doesn’t want to have a fresh start in 2021?

So, Thought Leaders Wanted…

It’s time to meet your ideal audience where they’re at today. Give them a gift of actual, proven solutions, your proof points and your promise to do better.

But don’t sell to them this holiday. Not yet.

Here’s my final take away:

-Engage now, but be future-focused. Talk about where the ball is going.-

What this means is, be active now, but speak to the future. Speak to the trends, where the ball is going, where you can take them as a result of following you.

Thought Leadership isn’t sales. It isn’t deals and discounts, tips and tricks. 

It’s the long game. 

It’s worth the wait. But it’s exactly right where you need it, when you’re ready.

So take the pressure off of your sales and marketing team. Practice the art of engaging, not selling, this season. Set yourself up for future success with authentic Thought Leadership into 2021.

Remember, your only job right now during the holidays is having people ask: TELL ME MORE. And lead them to where they can start the journey, with you at the helm.

Authors Bio:

Amanda Sutton is a PR agency owner and consultant with a 25 year career in Media Relations, Strategic Communications and Brand Positioning. Having trained hundreds of CEOs and entrepreneurs on media messaging, crisis management and communications, she has dovetailed her knowledge of persuasive marketing and combined it with personal branding and authenticity training to now offer a Thought Leadership Accelerator for speakers and consultants.