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What is a Thought Leader and Why Does It Matter?

What is a Thought Leader and Why Does It Matter?

We are all bombarded with content in our professional and personal lives. Anyone can now post whatever they want on the internet. However, as more content becomes available, more individuals are looking for credible thought leaders.

Keith Peterson
Last updated: Oct 14, 2021 | Sep 02, 2021

Table of Contents

We are all bombarded with content in our professional and personal lives. Anyone can now post whatever they want on the internet. However, as more content becomes available, more individuals are looking for credible thought leaders.

A thought leader is a person or organization whose authority in a certain sector is generally acknowledged. They can inspire people and promote change by embracing the position of opinion makers since they are trusted sources of knowledge and experience in their field. A thought leader is an industry expert who shares their knowledge with a larger audience with the goal of teaching and contributing value to the industry as a whole. Customers describe organizations that become thought leaders as trustworthy and credible.

Historically, and even before the term "thought leadership" was developed in the mid-nineties, thought leadership was mostly exercised by academics and high-profile thinkers, as well as the largest consulting firms such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, or Ernst & Young. Companies began to understand that “the reason why thought leadership is a prerequisite [for gaining a competitive advantage] is because trust is a prerequisite, and thought leadership is a way to build trust” as the internet became more democratized and content proliferated around the turn of the century. [Joe Chernov: The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership]

Several businesses, large and small, have begun to behave as thought leaders, positioning themselves as trusted authorities in their fields by sharing relevant and innovative material. Email or staggered newsletters were the primary methods of outward communication. The problem with this style of communication is that it is one-way: clients are passive recipients of information and are unable to actively connect with it. Furthermore, if businesses want to acquire knowledge and exchange expertise, certifications and industry-recognized seals of approval aren't possible with emails and newsletters.

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What is a Thought Leader?

In reality, “thought leaders” and “thought leadership” are considerably more important to your brand and content strategy than a lot of other buzzwords. Thought leadership can be an advantage that improves your prestige and dramatically expands your reach if you incorporate it into your inbound marketing strategy.

Let's get one thing straight: this isn't about influencer culture. While it's true that many influencers began out as thought leaders or evolved into them, they're also compensated to advance someone else's agenda. We're talking about a different kind of influence: the kind that comes from your company's specific field or industry's knowledge, skill, and authority.

Adding Value to the Lives of your Customers

A thought leader is someone whose "expertise and perspective are important enough to provide advice" to those who are interested. Thought leaders are able to “cut through the static with knowledge and insight” that benefits others. The best part is that they don't ask anything in return.

That is correct. If you share some industry thought leadership content on social media, you might hear crickets for a long time. But the point is that you must build confidence, develop reputation, and maintain consistency before you can expect anything in return. However, if you stay the course and commit to long-term thought leadership material, you will generate more leads, attract more followers, and establish a reputation as a brand that knows what it's talking about. And that type of faith is invaluable.

Business man and women that is happy with others success

Who is Doing it Correctly?

True thought leadership uses a niche's knowledge to establish a brand and become an industry role model, not only to sell products. Businesses who do it successfully contribute significant, timely information to the current conversation and form knowledgeable predictions for the future.

Steelcase and its thought leadership marketing have long been favorites of ours (even though our own office furniture is, ahem, Herman Miller). We've also waxed poetic over GE's contributions to the world. However, one of my latest favorites comes from Best Buy. The company's Mother's Day post on increasing adoption support for its employees, which was promoted via its blog and social platforms, struck an emotional chord (*tears*) and spoke volumes about the company's culture. (Additional bonus points if you include video!)

What's the point? People seek thought leaders for more than simply purchasing advice; they look to them for best practices in their fields, from marketing strategy to corporate behavior.

Be Aware of your "Why"

If you want to be a thought leader, your objectives must be more important than just making money. The Economist's Mina Seetharaman argues, "True thought leaders don't sell items because they understand their audience." They give suggestions to assist their consumers in resolving problems. And after their fans figure it out, leads (and sales, if you're doing it right) start to pour in.

Anyone may create good—even great—content, but delivering it in a way that is most useful to customers and colleagues requires a high level of customer awareness and industry experience. Now that you understand the importance of thought leadership in your content strategy, consider how you might help your customers save time, money, and stress. Use the answer to help you come up with thought leadership themes, and locate the perfect partner to help you bring all those blogs, Medium pieces, LinkedIn and Twitter postings, and white papers to life and reach the right people.

They Will Come If You Build It

You want to be your consumers' first choice, and you're already an expert in your field. You'll not only walk the talk—you'll start a conversation—by using your audience's genuine requirements to produce meaningful thought leadership content. One that will, over time, bring in more qualified leads who are ready to do business with you.

Writing

Write Down Whatever You Know

The creators of PouchDB, a JavaScript database, presented one of the best pieces of thought leadership content I've read.

PouchDB makes extensive use of promises, a JavaScript mechanism. Without going into the technical details, suffice it to say that it's an approach that's frequently misunderstood and exploited by developers.

The essay on promises by PouchDB provides a thorough but easy-to-understand review of the most prevalent promises mistakes. It also shows how to use them correctly and illustrates the author's ideas using PouchDB.

The fact that PouchDB extensively relies on promises and that its developers use promises on a daily basis lends credibility to this essay. “Write what you know,” as the old adage goes. Because we believe the authors have made and overcome all of these blunders in the course of their work, we know their advice — and their product — is valuable.

I was so impressed by their blog post that I wanted to look into their technology to see if it was anything I could utilize. Was a JavaScript database required? No. Was I aware that I was being advertised to? Yes. Have I read any other pieces about people abusing promises? Yes. Have I read any other pieces about people abusing promises? Yes. However, the content was so compelling that I felt compelled to expand my relationship with the organization. That should be the ultimate goal of any content marketing, especially thought leadership marketing. 

Is it Necessary to Stand Out?

Every marketer today understands that there is a deluge of content to choose from, and that you must stand out in order to be noticed. We spend a lot of work at Foleon assisting brands in differentiating themselves by presenting their material in a modern, interactive style. In terms of design, it's simple to present your work in a well-organized fashion that would previously have required the assistance of a team of designers and engineers. Readers are drawn in by interactivity. Using interactive content experiences also allows you to tailor your material to individual users, which will improve your conversion rate significantly.

Many writings on thought leadership, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of having an original point of view over how content is presented. Thought leadership, it is said, is only successful when it expresses an opinion that no one else has ever stated.

Is this correct? Is it possible for your thought leadership content to succeed without being completely unique? Returning to the original issue, how do you conduct a search when you have a problem to solve? You're aware that the ideal solution for you is likely to come from a variety of sources and viewpoints. You probably read a lot of pages in search of a consensus.

When it comes to selecting a solution, you don't always go with the most unusual option. You go with a tried-and-true option that has been endorsed by a number of authors or reviewers (even if you select the best laid out and presented version of that). Your thought leadership marketing doesn't have to be absolutely unique; in fact, in some cases, uniqueness can work against you. This relates to the last concept of writing what you know. Thought leadership material should aim to anticipate questions from your audience and respond to them in the clearest, most detailed, and fun manner possible. If other sources agree with your conclusions, but yours is the most well-presented and useful, you'll be the one who gets their business. If other sources agree with your conclusions, but yours is the most well-presented and useful, you'll be the one who gets their business.

Thought leadership

What Role Does Thought Leadership Play in Your Company?

There is no such thing as a vacuum when it comes to marketing materials. While raising brand recognition is important, you also need visitors to convert to leads and leads to convert to customers.

When thought leadership content is linked to other aspects of your marketing and sales operation, it helps you achieve this aim. It can be free or gated information on your website, and it can be for every stage of the buyer's journey.

Thought leadership material, such as free, un-gated content like a blog post, should include calls to action that direct visitors to other parts of the website. It can direct customers to gated material and information about your company, making the buyer's journey easier for them.

Continue to Learn About Your Field

Every industry evolves at a different pace, and as a thought leader, you must remain on top of what's going on in order to share and remark on trends.

"You have to keep learning about your industry as well as the macro-dynamics at work in the broader economy," Akram said. "Being a thought leader necessitates foresight, but it also necessitates the discipline to research market dynamics for patterns. Then you may use what you've learned by combining what you've studied with your vision to address real-world challenges."

Others Should Be Heard

Thought leaders don't know everything, and they're always learning. Insights Without Borders founder and CEO Mark Rogers, Psy.D., stressed the importance of admitting what you don't know and remaining humble enough to listen to what others have to say. Learning from others in your area is an excellent method to keep connected while also broadening your knowledge on a subject.

Rogers stated, "True thought leaders actually comprehend and listen to one other's stories." "They value the concept that we are all participants in the human journey and authors of our own life."

Conclusion

Many companies are now writing editorial pieces and referring to them as thought leadership. That trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Rather than debating whether such content is actually thought leadership, why not leverage your own expertise to create more content that your readers would find useful and informative?

Every organization has a pool of unsung experts waiting to be tapped as thought leaders. Your marketing department, for example, is bound to have a slew of them. It's easier than ever to get material in front of people who are looking for tools and answers from many sources. If the content is created by an expert, it receives all of the advantages of thought.

Google Questions

What Is Thought Leadership And Why Is It Important?

Finally, establishing your organization as a thought leader in its industry or sector is about developing trust, credibility, and authority, as well as rapport, and then using this relationship to create your brand reputation. It is critical to be courteous and to provide material that is helpful to readers in order to develop this trust.

What Is Thought Leadership Example?

Here are a few instances, at least in my opinion: 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. Even though they were rivals, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both thought leaders who diverged in their approaches to personal computing.

What Is The Focus Of Thought Leadership?

At its heart, thought leadership is a marketing approach that focuses on material that identifies you as an authority in your industry rather than information that sells. The objective is to provide answers to queries posed by your target audience.

Keith Peterson | I'm an expert IT marketing professional with over 9 years of experience in various Digital Marketing channels such as SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SMO (social media optimization), ORM (online reputation management), PPC (Google Adwords, Bing Adwords), Lead Generation, Adwords campaign management, Blogging (Corporate and Personal), and so on. Web development and design are unquestionably another of my passions. In fast-paced, high-pressure environments, I excel as an SEO Executive, SEO Analyst, SR SEO Analyst, team leader, and digital marketing strategist, efficiently managing multiple projects, prioritizing and meeting tight deadlines, analyzing and solving problems.

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