When it comes to corporate reputation, your executive visibility strategy can make or break your brand. Just peruse this list of Forbes 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Reading only the business leaders’ names – like Ratan Tata, Meg Whitman, Rupert Murdoch and Elon Musk – the corporate brands they’ve helmed quickly come to mind. Their reputation and that of their businesses are intricately intertwined.
Who is the face and voice of your brand? Is it your CEO? Who is the driving force of company values, culture, foresight and intellectual capital? Whether it’s your CEO or another C-level leader, a strategic approach to positioning your top executives as leading industry thinkers, trendsetters and influencers will set your company apart from the competition, build customer loyalty and boost sales.
3 Essentials of a Strong Executive Visibility Strategy
1. Share unique knowledge.
For the sake of using a clear example in this blog, let’s assume you’re charged with building the thought leadership of your CEO. In addition to deep understanding of your company and its vision, she has a distinctive vantage point about trends, challenges and risks impacting your industry. The very strengths and insight behind your company’s mission and business strategy are also of value more broadly.
Embrace a visibility strategy not as marketing hype but as a way to help your industry. Be a voice for the marketplace, not with the purpose of getting sales, but with the purpose of raising the issues. Brand attention and sales may follow, but if you’re in it for those reasons alone, your audiences will sense it and lose interest.
2. Be authentic and personal.
Instead, tap into themes, opinions and issues that are deeply meaningful to the CEO. What do they keep talking about with customers or employees? Are there certain types of news articles that make them react? What do they debate with the leadership team? Find something that resonates with the CEO, and that matters to your customers and prospects.
Consider how your CEO personifies your brand’s values. For example, how Richard Branson personifies “enjoyment” plays a key role in the brand image of Virgin. The more your thought leadership platform connects the CEO’s passions with the company’s purpose, the more easily and authentically it can come to life with personal anecdotes and stories.
3. Invest and execute realistically.
At a minimum, embracing a thought leadership plan for your CEO requires they strategically inform the effort. But to be truly successful, it also should include their personal commitment of time and focus. Bluntly: They need to want to do it and be part of it.
But the CEO doesn’t have to do it all on their own. The CEO’s visibility strategy should be designed to reflect their personality, communications style and workstyle, and play to their strengths. If they do best in a prepared setting, focus more heavily on written pieces and controlled content. If they shine with larger groups, put them on stage. Prefers quick responses? Try a social media program. Likes to be deep and thoughtful? Craft an op ed.
To maximize efficiencies and maintain an objective perspective, your agency or marketing team can interview the CEO, write first drafts and create visual content, share news trends and articles of interest to prompt new ideas, and conduct outreach to journalists and conference organizers to secure opportunities.Elevating the visibility of your CEO creates a competitive advantage and positions your company as innovative and customer focused.Click To Tweet
The big payoff.
Elevating the visibility of your CEO creates a competitive advantage and positions your company as both innovative and customer focused. But it also directly and indirectly increases your CEO’s communications and leadership skills, helps build trust and rapport with customers and business partners, and can be a mechanism for thinking through industry problems and solutions and testing new ideas. Not sure if your CEO has what it takes to be your industry’s foremost authority? Start by getting your brand’s thought leadership score.