Thought leaders are well-informed experts in their professions. Becoming a thought leader in one's field may open the door to various chances for company growth for small businessowners.
However, while many people aspire to be thought leaders, few truly know how todo it. The following are six strategies for startups and small company entrepreneurs to establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective areas. Read about small business PR thought leadership.
How To Become A Thought Leader In Your Industry
When many individuals ask what thought leadershipis, they generally get a vague answer like "it develops trust, authority, and opens doors to collaborations and opportunities."
All of this is correct, but the functional definition of thought leadershipis a tool for raising your personal profile — the most natural instrument there is.
Thought leadership can take the shape of written articles in the media, presentations at well-attended events, a prominent social mediapresence, a series of professional videos, a book, a white paper, and other forms.
Here are a few instances:
- In 1960, Jack Kennedy established himself as a thought leader when he stated that mankind may walk on the moon within the following ten years. It happened, and in order for it to happen, American academics altered their direction, new businesses arose, and millions of people followed the path set by a focused space program.
- Even though they were rivals, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both thought leaders who diverged in their approaches to personal computing. One advocated for a closed computer system, while the other advocated for an open system. In the end, history may prove that they were both correct. Millions of people have followed them both. The world relies on and appreciates both of their efforts.
- Doug Engelbart is considerably less well-known than Kennedy, Jobs, or Gates, but as the creator of the computer mouse, he altered how people interacted with computers and transformed how hardware and software were created.
Thought leader marketing applies the notion of thought leadership to the promotion of a firm. Instead of generating contentthat is explicitly geared to generate sales, the goal is to develop material that portrays you as an authority in your industry.
The notion is that by creating a name for yourself with smart, authoritative content in your industry, sales will automatically follow for your business.
You are the informed face of your company, which not only inspires the trust people to need to be confident enough to become consumers but also allows you to remain top of mind when someone needs the products or services you provide.
Whether you are a brand new start-up or have been in business for years, there are numerous distinct advantages to taking a thought leadership strategyto your marketing, including:
- Exposure and brand recognition- One of the most significant advantages of thought leadership is the exposure that it provides. It raises brand recognition by getting your name out there.
- Show your knowledge- by sharing your thinking processes and industry insights, you demonstrate to potential clients that you know what you're talking about. With 88 percent of consumers and 68 percent of B2B customers completing internet research prior to purchase, thought leadership guarantees that there is enough of material available to demonstrate to potential customers that you know what you're talking about.
- Create leads- As a natural result of showcasing your knowledge, you will generate new sales leads.
- Increase your reputation and impact- thought leadership helps to establish your company as a reliable source of knowledge, which means that people will pay attention to what you say.
- PR opportunities- As a thought leader, you are more likely to be sought for comment for news stories and other types of journalism, which might lead to some excellent PR coverage.
- Opportunities for networking- thought leaders are often invited to speak at events, which is a fantastic way to be recognized. Being a thought leader provides unparalleled networking possibilities, whether at a business breakfast or a full-fledged internet conference. This offers the opportunity to meet prospective new clients as well as strengthen existing client connections.
- Attract the best people- brilliant individuals are always on the search for the newest industry insights, as well as the finest places to work; as a thought leader, you will be spotted by the brightest minds, who may even want to come and work for you.
The thought leadership method works especially well in a business-to-business context and maybe more suited to some industries than others.
Rapidly changing sectors, such as digital marketing, are especially fertile ground for aspiring thought leaders, since people in these industries turn to knowledgeable individuals to provide insights into – and hence preparedness for – the direction the industry is headed (hence the success of people like Neil Patel, who we saw earlier).
That is not to suggest that you cannot be a thought leader in a conventional sector or a B2Cfirm. If you focus on meeting your consumers' requirements - answering questions or solving issues linked to what your company does – you have the foundation for a thought leadership approach, similar to Colgate's on oral health.
It is difficult to please everyone all of the time. Indeed, small business owners who strive to please every potential client base often end up with a diluted message and, as a result, a diluted market share.
Instead, concentrate on knowing your target audience and how to effectively interact with them in order to satisfy their goals, interests, pain spots, and requirements.
The more businesses can narrow down who these individuals are, the more probable it is that they will be able to reach out to them and create thought leadership with them.
Consider the following while defining your niche:
- What problem do you and your company tackle, and who would profit from your solutions?
- What are your audience's demographics and psychographics?
- What does your ideal customer appear to be like?
- Who are your current clients?
Take the time to figure out who your target audience is. It will make the path to thought leadership much easier for you.
To make an influence on others, small business owners must be able to stand out from the crowd and understand who they are and what their company represents. As you develop your own brand, consider the following questions:
- What do you want the voice of your brand to be?
- What are your core beliefs?
- What's your backstory? Why did you start your business in the first place?
- What words would you use to describe yourself to others?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you connect with your audience more effectively.
Invest your time and attention in producing high-quality content in order to expand your thought leadership. Only 18% of the content is considered as outstanding or very good by decision-makers, according to the Edelman-LinkedIn research. This implies that thought leaders are in great demand to improve their content game.
Long-form content–1,200 to 1,600 words or more–can give significant value. (Research also suggests that longer material ranks higher in search results and receives more shares and links than shorter content.)
Don't be afraid to delve into detail on a subject and examine it from all aspects to generate in-depth material that fleshes out a topic.
In addition, experiment with alternative forms to diversify your strategy. Create a variety of materials, such as e-books, infographics, slide shares, and videos, to reach a wider audience.
Technology and trends are always evolving. You risk becoming obsolete if you do not maintain your industry expertise.
Maintain your finger on the pulse of what's going on in your industry. Be among the first to master and share new technology as it develops. Keep up with industry news to keep on top of emerging trends.
Have you ever gone to a gathering where everyone only talks about themselves? It's tedious and tough to concentrate.
Have you met folks at the same party that gives you fantastic suggestions on restaurants, vacation destinations, or useful tips on anything else that interests you? Those are the individuals you want to be with!
The same is true for establishing oneself as a thinking leader. Instead of constantly talking about yourself and your company, give useful information that addresses your audience's goals, requirements, and pain areas. The more value you offer them, the more they will see you as a thought leader.
Create a company blog and produce regular pieces that educate your audience to get started. These postings should not be promotional in nature; instead, they should focus on assisting rather than selling. Supplement your blog articles with valuable paid material like ebooks, white papers, and tutorials.
By being helpful and demonstrating the expertise of your business, you will gain credibility and authority in your area. This builds trust in your audience and establishes you as a thinking leader.
To become a thought leader, you must first establish a network with which you can share your own voice. This network should include both existing thought leaders in your industry and those with whom you would like to build thought leadership.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. Follow the lead of other industry influencersand mentors by observing their behavior. Begin by connecting with them on social media, leaving comments on their blog articles, sharing their material, or introducing yourself at a conference.
The more connections you can make with these thought leaders, the more probable it is that you will be viewed as a fellow thought leader by association.
As vital as online networking is, it is equally necessary to interact with people in person. Attend local networking events, conferences, or even volunteer to give a public speech at an industry group. Do whatever it takes to get in front of the appropriate individuals on a continuous basis.
Writing a blog and producing high-quality material will not position you as a thought leader. You must ensure that people view the material! Promote it on all relevant social platforms where your target audience spends time.
Remember that you do not have to be on every social networking platform. Not all platforms will appeal to your target audience. Find the ones where they're active and spend most of your social time there.
Social media is a fantastic method to connect with your audience in addition to marketing your content. Social media communication should not be a one-way path. Start conversations and respond to comments.
Engage your followers in conversation. The more involved you are, the more authentic you will look, and this is what distinguishes outstanding thought leaders from others.
While the phrase "think beyond the box" may be overused, it is true if you want to become a thought leader in your area. Do something innovative or thought-provoking that will catch and retain the attention of your audience.
If people perceive that you have original ideas rather than simply regurgitating material supplied by other thought leaders, they will regard you as a leader in the area and someone they will want to follow in order to acquire the knowledge and insights that they want.
If you put in the effort and follow the procedures outlined above, being a thought leader does not have to be tough. You'll be on your way to becoming the next thought leader in your area if you provide insightful information to the appropriate audience at the right moment.
In the same line as the preceding point, thought leaders are no longer required to reside in native spaces. Aside from your blog and the media with which your company collaborates, LinkedIn and Medium provide community platforms for small business leaders, although to different audiences.
Use LinkedIn to reach out to industry peers, and Medium to reach out to a broader business audience. As an added advantage, these platforms provide greater shareability for both.