Why Trade Publications Should Be Part of Your Thought Leadership Campaign

Many of our clients come to us with the desire to place their thought leadership in flashy publications like Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and TechCrunch—you know, places that’ll make your dinner party companions ooh and aah. And while we’re big fans of publications like those, some savvy customers prefer a combined approach: pitching some pieces to the big names and others to seemingly humbler venues.

We’re talking about trade publications, the industry insider’s best friend. InformationWeek. MediaPost. Broadcasting & Cable. Apparel Magazine. These are publications pitched not at a general business audience, but at specific industries like advertising, media, and retail. Getting in a trade publication may not impress your mother-in-law, but it will get your thoughts in front of a small but targeted audience of industry insiders—including potential customers and partners—who have the depth of knowledge to understand complex arguments about your field. Here are four reasons why you might want to consider a trade publication for your next thought leadership piece.  

  1. You want to generate sales leads now.

Placement in big pubs definitely look impressive, but here’s the great irony: they won’t necessarily get your insights in front of potential customers. Mainstream business publications have large, diverse audiences, so most of the people reading your article may not be in your target industry. If you’re looking for investors or potential acquirers, that might not be a big deal, but if customers are your goal you might want to go narrower. In a trade pub, by contrast, you can rest assured that your message—and your product—will be relevant to most of the people reading it. That means a larger proportion of your readers are likely to pick up a phone and call you to learn more.

  1. You want to write about the nitty-gritty of your industry.

Because they have such a massive, diverse audience, large publications tend to avoid thought leadership that’s too niche. They gravitate towards high-level topics that are relevant to readers across several industry verticals—i.e. women in the workplace or entrepreneurship. And while those sorts of subjects are perennially popular, sometimes the subject you want to write about is far more specific.

Maybe you really want to explain why a new breakthrough in your industry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or how to solve an issue you see many companies struggling with. Perhaps you don’t want to waste time explaining the basics of your industry to a reader before delving into the interesting technical stuff. When it comes to nitty-gritty subjects and articles that aren’t afraid to get technical, the trade publication is your best friend.

  1. You want to practice writing and pitching before going after the big guns.

If you haven’t published thought leadership before, getting that first byline can seem extremely daunting. Why would Forbes publish you when you’ve written for, well, no one? Writing and pitching to your industry’s trade publications can be a great way to start building up your thought leadership resume. Not only will you learn how the whole process works, but you’ll be collecting bylines left and right that you can then use to convince editors at bigger publications to give you a shot.

  1. You want to offer tips or a “how we learned” piece.

As a leader in your industry, we have no doubt that you’ve learned some valuable lessons that others in your industry would seriously benefit from hearing. But perhaps what you’ve learned is far more concrete and actionable than befits a vague “5 Lessons that Being an Entrepreneur Has Taught Me” article. Fear not! Trade publications love stories from the front lines as well as actionable, answer-based articles that delve into the brass tacks of problem-solving in your industry. They’ll eat it up.

The most compelling thought leaders tend to lead a specific space, whether that’s aerospace engineering or productivity hacks. Getting your byline in your industry’s trade publications is a fantastic way to start reaching fans in a space of your own—and building up a reputation as a thought leader.

Get in touch to learn more about how Hippo Thinks can craft your next thought leadership campaign.

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