Through thoughtful delivery, thought leadership makes you a valuable and trusted asset to your target audience. When potential consumers see you as an asset, they are more likely to purchase your product or service.
To be a thought leader, you have to think outside of the norm. In this post, we will explore the basics of being a thought leader. But be sure to think outside the box and get creative. Thought leaders are driven by innovation. Are you up to the challenge?
When establishing thought leadership, there are two options. To grow your personal brand and position yourself as a thought leader or position your brand as a thought leader. Both are super effective, but we believe that humanization comes from an actual person, so, for the sake of this post, we are going to focus on thought leadership on a personal level.
Why Should I Care About Being a Thought Leader?
As an expert in your field, thought leadership builds trust which is the backbone of landing new customers.
Thought leadership helps with branding and convinces your target audience why your brand is a great option for their needs.
With thought leadership, you can engage consumers before they purchase your product or service through engaging with them. Engagement keeps your brand top of mind and when consumers are ready to make a purchase, they’ll think of your brand as you will have already built trust.
Basically, thought leadership is an authentic way to grow your business. Most of the thought leadership strategies will not cost you any budget besides the time you spend positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.
Elements of Thought Leadership
Thought leadership requires you to be the leader. Hence the name. Consider the following key criteria of a successful thought leader.
- Expertise: Become an expert in a niche relating to your industry
- Insight: Knowing what will happen in your industry before your audience does
- Experience: Convey your own journey and findings
- Inspiration: Translate an idea in a way that inspires your audience to think differently
- Opinion: Take a stance and stand by it
- Transparency: Complete honesty and authenticity are the foundation of thought leadership
- Creativity: Find a perspective that your competing brands don’t embrace
- Humanization: Use your personal experience to relate with your audience
- Originality: Always be unique and don’t regurgitate information that already exists
- Consistency: Thought leadership is an ongoing effort and well worth it
Topics That Build Thought Leadership
Just starting your thought leadership strategy or feel like your efforts are a little underwhelming? That’s an easy fix. ere are some inspirational topics you can embrace to power your thought leadership efforts.
- Statistics and industry research
- Your personal experience
- Quote other thought leaders
- A unique perspective on your industry
- Trending issues that affect your industry
Content Creation is Key
Content fuels every brand’s thought leadership strategy so it’s time to start writing!
This can be in the form of a brand’s blog, guest posting, writing eBooks, etc. Content topics can also be repurposed for more leverage.
As the author of thought leadership content, you need to be strategic. Promote your content within your content. Think of guest posts linking back to an eBook or other content you’ve produced for your industry.
Worried you’re not a good writer? You can hire a ghostwriter so that you can publish content under your name. More businesses probably do it than you realize.
Before creating thought leadership content, make sure you truly understand your audience. Analyze their behavior and pain points and craft your content around those topics.
Getting your name out there via other publications helps tremendously with thought leadership.
Sign up for HARO, a PR website where journalists put out queries. Usually, they ask for a quote or tip and will link to your website or LinkedIn profile.
If you really want to hit PR hard, sign up for a Muck Rack subscription and identify contacts in your industry. Reach out and offer yourself for any upcoming articles they have in the works. Aim to pitch news-worthy insights to get in front of new and qualified audiences.
Network at virtual and in-person events to get your name out there.
To really ramp up the effectiveness of events, apply to be a speaker. Getting in front of large audiences does wonders for your reputation
Speaking at webinars doesn’t cost you anything. Just make sure that the person hosting the webinar is willing to share the email addresses of all the attendees so you can nurture them with your marketing automation efforts.
Research and sign up for trade publications in your industry. They often host events that your audience attends.
A solid social media presence is crucial for amplifying your thought leadership. Your industry will dictate which channels to be on. Usually, a solid social media strategy includes a mix of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Implement social listening so that you can weigh in on topics that your target audience posts about.
Remember, thought leadership is all about having a unique and consistent view of your industry. Social media can quickly promote your perspective.
Identify hashtags that your audience follows and incorporate them into your posts when it makes sense.
If your budget allows, use your thought leadership content in paid social posts. They can perform way better than branded ads.
Be sure to make video social media posts part of your strategy. Consumers are digesting more video than ever before and you can read our guide on the topic here.
Consumers tend to go with community-minded brands. So expand your footprint by joining online and offline communities.
Communities for niches within your industry can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn. For example, our Overit team is part of digital marketing LinkedIn and Facebook groups.
You should also consider some in-person communities such as your local chamber of commerce.
Partner With Like-Minded Thought Leaders
Want to capitalize on audiences that are already engaged? Identify thought leaders that have the audience you are seeking out. This is also known as influencer partnerships.
Keep in mind that your ask needs to match your give. Meaning, you can’t just ask an influencer to post about you or share your content without giving them something in return. You can post something from them on your own channels, compensate them financially or offer exclusive information.
Engage with influencers on social media so they recognize your name when you reach out to them.
Final Thoughts: How to Become a True Thought Leader
Thought leadership is all about challenging people to think differently. With the strategies we outlined above, thought leadership is tangible.
Keep in mind that content creation is the backbone of thought leadership. And not all leaders are good writers so don’t hesitate to get a ghostwriter.
Revisit your buyer personas to capitalize on topics that will convert and inspire. You want a solid understanding of your audience before you start posting in order to capitalize on your efforts.
Find your opinion and voice in your niche to stand out. Embrace the process of being a unique voice in your industry.
Since content creation is the backbone of thought leadership, many brands are partnering with agencies like Overit to help with their content strategy. Contact us today for a free brainstorming session.