Thought leadership is the art of positioning your company as a leader in its field or an individual as an authority on a specialist subject whose views are sought and often rewarded.
Of course, anyone with knowledge and an opinion could consider themselves as a thought leader but it’s the ability to share original content with an interested audience on a regular basis that helps complete that definition so that potential clients and industry peers begin to associate your brand with insight and authority.
To truly become an influencer requires not only for you to believe the information to be interesting and valuable but more importantly that your audience does as well. Aspiring to be a thought leader can bring great benefits to your brand and to your business. Managed successfully, it can create a relationship built on trust, breed loyalty, retain customers and attract potential clients.
Let’s look at some basic thoughts on how to achieve thought leadership.
Firstly you need to pick a topic – a subject matter which you know well, have expertise in and a passion for, and one which other people will find interesting. Becoming a thought leader in tech is no easy matter and requires not only knowledge but experience backed up by research where possible.
Secondly, you need to know your target audience and narrow it to a manageable size in order to establish recognition where it matters most and realistically be able to communicate with it.
Thirdly building a reputation starts with sharing information and ideas. You need to spend time not only in creating your message but also in distributing it effectively by sharing it through blogs, articles and industry events. This requires excellent written and verbal communication skills. The former could be outsourced but requires close attention to ensure the messaging is correct. Most importantly, take time to consider what questions or issues your audience might face. Anticipating their needs and solving their problems will be key. Providing value will be vital. Equally, don’t use this vehicle to openly promote your products, albeit that sales may be an ultimate result.
Fourthly, establish multiple routes to market. Publishing from your website is a good start to build your followers. Using social media like Linked-In Pulse will help establish an audience, your credibility and your visibility. Twitter can alert your followers to a new article. Contributing to established industry sites is another valuable route. Collaborating with other thought leaders to help promote your message to their followers can be very useful. All this requires time and frequency of information if you are going to build and retain an audience.
Thought leadership enables you to differentiate yourself from your competitors but it’s your audience that determines whether you are a thought leader or not. It’s not something that can be achieved overnight with one interesting blog or speech. But with the correct strategy, it can place you in a position of strength as a trusted source of information and an authority that can drive interest in and awareness of your company, and as a result generate additional sales for your business.