FINTECH: Thought Leadership Field Guide

Public Relations Strategies for the Industry Expert

Staying abreast of market, regulatory and technology changes across blockchain and digital currency is, in some ways, much like day trading.  Blink, and you’ve missed an important change.  Stop for coffee, and your children’s college fund may have just evaporated.  In the realm of public relations and digital marketing, there is segment of professional that works with this very topic.

Spoiler AlertThat’s not what we’ll be talking about today.

For those of you looking to create or expand fortunes in crypto trading, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

We are, however, going to address thought leadership strategies.  For the pioneers across these sectors looking to deliver significant solutions to business problems, or fundamentally change established thinking, and curious about how to communicate your innovation, you’ve come to the right place.

This is your field guide to translating your market-changing innovation into substantive digital conversations that will be published by trusted broad business and industry media – all powered by strategies of public relations.

Truth be told, the principles we’ll discuss here aren’t confined to the dynamic new solutions arising around blockchain and digital currencies; the thought leadership strategies we’re going to discuss will serve as well for financial technology experts, and innovators across the realm of technology:  from cloud to big data to cybersecurity and more, we invite you to pour a cup of coffee while we share our thoughts.

Thought Leadership Take-Away One:  Toss the Thesaurus

Mark Twain shared one of the most important thought leadership quotes I’ve ever read, even if he didn’t describe it that way: 

'I apologize for such a long letter - I didn't have time to write a short one.’

The beauty of his quote?  Brief is better – and it’s oh so much harder to achieve in conversation.  For highly advanced business solutions, it can be tempting to dive into a sea of acronyms and highly-technical language.  The problem with this approach?  It will only make sense to you, and the small pool of colleagues “swimming in the same waters” of your expertise. 

To reach the success of a larger marketplace and attract and convert new (fill in the blank here) – partners, customers, clients, buyers, investors – you need to convey the power of your solution in a way that makes sense for everyone.

So take a cue from Mark Twain, one of the masters of story telling and the English language.  Keep it short and simple.  No matter how long it takes.

 Thought Leadership Take-Away Two:  Forget the Steak AND the Sizzle; Address the Empty Stomach

In multiple conversations and website reviews with blockchain and cryptocurrency innovators, I’m often impressed with the endless array of technical features and “better than” enhancements.  The conversation about what is offered is in-depth and well-thought out.  What is the key thing that often goes missing?

The target market’s pain-point the solution is intended to solve.

Customers don’t invest in technology because it’s the latest or most feature-laden.  They choose the solution that will best meet their need.

The key to an outstanding thought leader?  His or her primary focus is on identifying, relating to, and solving the customer pain point.  If the market community feels you understand their need, they are going to be much more trusting of what you offer, and what you say you’ll deliver.

At that point, the bells and whistles become vitally interesting.  Before that point, it’s all just noise.

 Thought Leadership Take-Away Three: “They” Carry More Weight than “You”

To address this, we have to take a second and think about why thought leaders are, well, thought leaders.  Why is their word valued, and their thinking trusted?  Yes, the ideas may be innovative, original, or simply delightfully utilitarian.

But there’s a world of people capable of being original in their thinking.  The distinction, for a thought leader, is the credibility they bring to the table.  That credibility, in short, often comes from sources outside of the individual.

From academic degrees, to industry awards, to the endorsement of customer case studies and testimonials, the opinion of an external, credible third-party source brings gravitas to the offerings of the thought leader.

This is no more true than in the realm of “earned” media – so-called because the subject must earn the attention and coverage of a respected journalist, analyst or influencer.  Having a trusted third party such as a journalist share your thinking, solutions or success milestone delivers the imprint of credibility in a way that simple conversation never could.

 Why this Conversation Around Blockchain?

If thought leadership principles are applicable across industries and interests, why are we focused on blockchain and its colleague, cryptocurrency?  Because I’ve seen first hand how individuals in the industry who are able to embrace the three take-aways we’ve discussed here are able to rise above the noise and get their viewpoint, and solution offering, in front of a wider marketplace.  In the cycle of awareness-preference-adoption, the ability to connect and be heard in a crowded marketplace is essential.

Beyond that issue is the simple matter of trust.  With new revelations emerging daily in the blockchain and digital economy, marketing channels such as bounty hunters and paid content are often discounted by the marketplace.

Patiently and succinctly demonstrating performance, knowledge and understanding of market need is a door opener to trust and adoption in an emerging and chaotic industry.

So, set aside your acronyms, make yourself answer the question “what is my customer’s pain point” in one sentence, then distill your theory or solution answering that question down to one paragraph or less.

You will be on your way to clear, succinct thought leadership – and the marketplace will thank you for it.

About the Author:

Pam Abrahamsson is the founder and CEO of PRA Public Relations, an award-winning Top PR Firm, and expert whose insight has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and more.