Between work and your personal life, it may seem impossible to account for all of your opportunities for growth. There are the obvious differentiators, like developing a higher-quality product or being the cost leader in your area, but there are many other factors that contribute to your company being labeled an industry leader. Here’s checklist of 10 things that can serve as catalyst for your company — helping you rise to the top and stay there:
1. Are you an honest company?
Your customers’ trust is huge when it comes to staying on top. Being dishonest or hiding things can demolish that bond. Check out Marcus Sheridan’s TEDx Talk about “The Honest Economy.” He points out how companies like McDonald’s are attempting to be more straightforward with their consumers. Adding the calorie count to their menu risked cutting sales, but it was considerate of their customers’ concerns. It said, “Hey, we want you to make your own decisions.” They’re being honest, transparent, and consistent, which is what customers like.
2. Are you a trusted source for information?
Customers naturally trust companies that provide them with good information. Great examples of companies that make a point of doing this areHubSpot, Grasshopper, Switch Video, and Moz. All of them have solid blogs, and they consistently produce content that their customers use to make day-to-day decisions. When you combine the quality of their content with their consistent distribution in industry publications, you hold the recipe for their credibility.
3. Are your executives thought leaders?
Are your executives the contributors to your industry’s publications? Are they speaking at industry events? If not, they should be. Your company strengthens its position as an authority when your executives are sharing their knowledge in the space your industry covets.
4. Do you have a meaningful relationship with your target market?
Industry leaders care about more than just moving product. I recently wrote an article about how brands are creating unique engagement programs to add value to their customers’ lives. What information, service, or program can you provide that won’t dig deeper into your customers’ pockets — but will instead help line them?
5. Are your key employees known experts?
Look at the key employees who lead your different divisions. Are they positioned as industry experts? If you’re running a development company, then your senior developers should be the subject matter experts. Look at your employees’ LinkedIn LNKD +0.18% profiles. If you see a variety of industry articles, a lot of connections within the industry, and a profile that screams credibility, then mark this off the list.
6. Are you recognized consistently with awards and placements in top industry lists?
There’s a certain type of person that likes to overlook awards. They’re the ones who talk about the “rat race” and claim they wouldn’t want the recognition, anyway. That’s BS. Being recognized as the best helps establish you as an industry leader and fuels future growth. We created an internal tool to let us know about awards we should be vying for. After getting a lot of value from it, we decided to make AwardHound public so others could benefit. It feels great to share our resources so others can create pride among their employees — along with earning some well-deserved recognition that helps position their companies as leaders.
7. Do you have a reputation for treating people well?
Whether you’re dealing with a customer or an employee, it’s important to treat people well. Customers want to know that their money’s going to a company with a conscience. Consider Zappos. It rose to the top quickly with the help of a reputation for truly caring about its employees. Matthew Gordon of GraduationSource says, “Employees are the core of your organization’s success. You need to invest in their happiness and development if you want to have any real growth and innovation.” Test your own reputation by having your employees and customers rate you. If you’re swamped with positive reviews, then you’ve got this one covered.
8. Do you show up in the search results your target market is looking for?
You never know what kind of attention you might receive through search results. Stephan Aarstol, the CEO of Tower Paddle Boards and one of our clients, received Mark Cuban’s attention on ABC’s “Shark Tank” through his high-ranked search results for “paddle boards.” Quality content, social influence, and author rank are important factors to pay attention to when it comes to dominating search results in the future.
9. What do people find when they’re researching your company?
What pops up when people research your company? Is it positive? Is the content all internal, or do third-party results show up, too? Ideally, you have many validating third-party results — and no negative ones. If that’s not the case, then you can start changing your results by reading this about improving your reputation management.
10. Do you have a presence at major industry events?
One of the easiest steps you can take to establish yourself as an industry leader is to make sure you’re present at major events. It’s rare that I go to a conference for entrepreneurs or small businesses that doesn’t have the top guns sponsoring, speaking, or hosting something. Keep a list of all your industry’s major events and create a solid presence at them.
Becoming dominant in an industry is challenging, and maintaining that dominance can be even harder. There will always be an up-and-comer developing a new product or service. Going through the above list will help you fight off any challenger threatening to end your reign.
Courtesy of Forbes