A Thought Leadership Marketing Example: Ross Printing Demonstrates Extending Customer Service Through Thought Leadership Best Practices
Ross Printing, led by 3rd generation family owner and Charleston, SC area resident Jeremy Ross, exemplifies thought leadership marketing best practices.
In case you are uninitiated, what is thought leadership marketing? And how is it different from other ways to market and advertise?
Since Ross Printing is an excellent example of the Thaut Process, I’ll use their program as an example to illustrate 4 ways thought leadership marketing is different:
1. Thought leadership marketing is a respect-based alternative to the privacy invasion of typical online ads. And done well, it works better.
Hardly a day goes by without another news piece about the pushback against privacy invasion online. When you step back and see the big picture, you can’t miss that customers don’t like having their data harvested. Privacy breaching is like the pythons in the Everglades: an invasive species that damages the internet ecosystem. Customers will rebel, as we are seeing in recent studies showing they resent companies who follow them with ads.
We wonder why that practice continues when studies show over 70% of web users would rather learn about what they intend to buy with helpful content instead of being targeted with ads. Why would you need to target them when they are already Googling to find the learning they crave? Isn’t service more effective for relationship development than manipulation? Once you embrace content marketing as a service, thought leadership adds the impact that helps search ranking and keeps users coming back to a trusted source for valuable help.
In direct mail and print marketing, expert help is especially important because of how easy it is to make expensive mistakes. Jeremy Ross is a fountain of knowledge in these areas, and we are together harvesting this to the benefit of business leaders and marketers in Ross Printing’s high-impact blog Print in a Digital World.
2. It Means Listening to Your Prospects Instead of Targeting Them
You need to listen well so you can learn enough to take audience thinking somewhere new. Tools like NLP unveil insights into marketplace values and beliefs. They are hidden in plain sight, embedded in authentic online conversations about a product or service, and reveal not only what people say they want but what they would really love.
The emphasis stays on respect. Instead of studying prospects to target them with ads, we listen and learn to better give them what they want. There is no need to know who said what: we don’t track any personal information from these public conversations we typically find in places like Reddit and comment threads on blogs. Doesn't it show more confidence as a brand to treat your prospects and their privacy with respect?
What did we discover for Ross Printing with this uniquely respectful "listening" audience research?
We learned a lot. And some of it offered great impact.
We found that digital marketers value integrity above all else - which fits right in with how Ross puts customer relationships ahead of transactions.
We also discovered digital marketers would love to better use print media and direct mail for strategic advantage. They just need ways to effectively integrate them with digital media. Ross Printing is serving this “media pull” with symbiotic print-digital campaign strategies that creatively use tools like QR codes to combine the strengths of both.
3. Thought Leadership is Teaching Your Audience to Embrace Your Way of Thinking as The Way to Think About What You Do.
Develop and distribute a distinctively helpful way of thinking about your product or service and your audience won’t consider doing business with anyone else. This is beyond just having some “good ideas”. It means creating a robust thought leadership model, supported by your audience’s higher values and in alignment with them on multiple levels.
Thought Leadership is often thought of as demonstrating expertise, but just showing what you know doesn’t necessarily lead the audience to:
- Get more value out of what you sell,
- Elevate the use of it to a higher purpose, or
- Make a smarter buying decision.
And those add the value. Ross Printing’s SEEC model clearly spells out the key areas necessary to maximize (SEEC out) return on investment with print and direct mail. And Ross Printing is the only way to access those resources the way special they provide.
*There is speculation that the presence of dogs assists Ross Printing's Thought Leadership.
4. Thought Leadership is Leverage.
Instead of just selling harder, consider that could just be selling the old way harder. It could be like hawking 8-track players in 2019. Instead, you can more easily lead your customers to new thinking to captivate a market segment.
Ross Printing’s long-standing right-selling philosophy, based on their philosophy of putting the customers’ needs first, demonstrates a trust in the law of giving and receiving. And that’s high-leverage as well.
Extending that right-selling philosophy to the internet with a well-constructed thought leadership program is showing an ever-growing audience a better way to think about their printing and direct mail marketing. Ross Printing stands out as a distinctive and helpful resource for any business wanting to maximize what they get out of these traditional media, which are more relevant than ever for cutting through the clutter in this digital age.
Written by Chris McNeil
Founder of Thaut and 5th Level Web
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