Thought leadership has evolved from a fashionable term to a serious strategy for building a company and personal brand in recent years. Thought leaders’ opinions are respected and highly valued by others, and they help them position themselves as experts in their fields. With so many people sharing their ideas on social media, demonstrating your position as an industry influencer with ACTUAL VALUABLE INFORMATION is the most efficient approach to stand out in a crowded market. Although being a thought leader takes time, sticking to these four methods will set you on the right track.
Define your objectives and make sure they are in line with your plan.
Aspiration and ambition are often reflected in thought-leadership objectives. They may be as high as raising stock prices or improving views of innovation and brand trust.
Thought leadership approach should be aligned with company strategy in order to determine the appropriate objectives. If a company wants to be renowned for delivering cutting-edge goods, it must first provide cutting-edge items. The tale concerning that invention should then be told. If a company wants to be regarded as the top Internet of Things provider, it must provide functional goods and share a market vision that shapes the emerging industry and allows consumers to see themselves in the future.
These are the most common categories for thought leadership goals:
- Make the firm seem appealing to investors.
- In a new market, establish credibility.
- Demonstrate the viability of new technology or new uses for current technology.
- Increase confidence in the organization’s capacity to [execute, collaborate, create, and so on.]
- Enhance the reputation of a company, a leader/executive, or a group of leaders/executives.
- Make the company a leader in…innovation, a new market, a new method, and so forth.
- Increase revenue/sales
- Raising brand awareness
- Create a new audience [for example, on a social media platform, becoming a reliable source for the overall target audience]
- Recruiting: Make yourself appealing to prospective workers.
- Establish the organization’s context…
- position its activities or products in a unique context in relation to existing or future social, technical, economic, environmental, or political conditions.
- In the face of hardship, demonstrate deliberate leadership, reason, and humility.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A THOUGHT LEADER?
At its foundation, thought leadership is a marketing approach that focuses on material that positions you as an authority in your subject rather than information that sells. The idea is to respond to the queries that your target audience has. You’ll still have chances to promote your service or product, but first you need to establish trust and reputation as a knowledgeable, experienced, and helpful leader in your field.
What Are the Advantages of a Thought Leadership Strategy?
Thought leadership is much more than a white paper found on a website’s thought leadership menu. When done well, thought leadership provides a variety of advantages to the company, including:
- Set the stage for market strategies and judgments. Increase investor confidence by revealing sensible cognitive processes.
- Increase your clout. Establish a favorable image for the company and people who work there.
- Increase the number of possibilities for earned publicity. Encourage the submission of articles, quotations, panels, and keynotes.
- Increase sales. Leads are generated through thoughtful content.
- Create a recruitment awareness campaign. People want to work for a bean company.
- Networking. Thought leadership strengthens network ties.
- Market perspectives are widened. An organization like this would showcase its social justice initiatives.
- Compassion is shown. In stressful circumstances, wise leadership may provide a variety of methods for a firm to demonstrate its appreciation and compassion.
Creating a Successful Thought Leadership Strategy
Choose your target market (s)
The majority of thought leadership information should be free, allowing everyone to access it. That isn’t to say it shouldn’t be written for a broad audience. Each piece of thought leadership should address a particular audience as much as feasible. CIOs, CMOs, CHROs, and CFOs all concentrate on very different aspects of the company, so saying the material is for a “CXO” isn’t accurate enough. This isn’t to say that all thought leadership material should be targeted at the same people, or that thought leadership should only provide ideas in one direction. Organizations may choose to give both thought leadership and technological leadership at the same time. Content that spans the business and technical (or human resources and financial) spectrum should, in theory, be synergistic, but each may and should provide valuable insights to the target audience. Each piece of information should be tailored to a certain demographic. The program’s target audience list should be clearly stated.
Gather information on existing thought leadership.
Many companies cultivate thought leadership in an ad hoc manner. It’s never too early to start gathering the organization’s previous thought leadership. This might take weeks, if not months, for big enterprises. Regardless matter how difficult the process may seem, it must be completed since the business must guarantee that the plan provides a consistent story. Previous thought leadership material that was released without sufficient evaluation might represent outdated techniques that no longer correspond with corporate strategy, or it could have been created by individuals who no longer work for the firm. Consider revising the material and republishing it under the new look and feel of the thought leadership program if the concepts remain relevant.
Choose a strategy for your thought leadership program.
Thought leadership is more than merely publicizing thought leaders’ opinions. Every business hires thought leaders who can speak for the firm in public. Those thought leaders, on the other hand, may not be well aligned with the thought leadership program’s established strategic goals. Thought leaders will need to be identified and nurtured in order to successfully convey a unified narrative in programs that feature them (see items below).
Research-based initiatives that use third-party research to make a point for the company may also be considered thought leadership. This has the benefit of making the company seem modest by asking questions it doesn’t know the answers to, as well as associating itself with a reputable third-party research agency that brings its own thought leadership aura to bear on the subject.
Position-based thought leadership is another option for organizations, in which the organization as a whole takes a stand rather than any individual(s) representing the company. Advocacy groups and trade associations often produce position-based thought leadership to lobby for member businesses in commercial marketplaces and among government lawmakers and regulators, for example, the adoption of a technical standard.
Large corporations are likely to develop hybrid thought leadership initiatives that combine the voices of internal business and technical leaders with supporting research and participation in trade associations and other organizations.
INTERVIEWS AND MEDIA ENGAGEMENTS CAN BE USED TO BUILD THOUGHT LEADERSHIP.
You must contact your target audience in order to position yourself as a thought leader in your field. This is where the media can assist you in amplifying both your message and your brand. There are various ways for you to reach and influence people, from classic media like newspapers, periodicals, and morning TV programs to emerging mediums like podcasts.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that media appearances will entail some effort on your side, particularly if you’re just starting out with your thought leadership. You’ll have to present your tale to the media and journalists, earn their confidence, and convince them that you should be included in an article or interview. The flood of diverse channels aids these efforts greatly. Focus on a specialized magazine that targets your sector if major stations or publications are disinterested. Partnering with the media may help you get in front of your audience and position yourself as a thought leader if you have patience and persistence. Once you’ve been featured, it’s more likely that additional journalists or magazines will want to connect with you. But keep in mind that journalists can spot a phony from a mile away. Only if you actually demonstrate competence in your subject and provide important thoughts and views can you be considered a thought leader.
STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAND ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND IN BLOGS
While media appearances need collaboration with a journalist or magazine, social media and blogs provide you the freedom to reach out to your audience on your own terms. This does not, however, imply that you should upload and distribute material on the spur of the moment. Developing a content strategy is a crucial step in earning your audience’s trust and establishing yourself as a thought leader.
You must first identify your target audience. You’re attempting to reach out to these potential consumers. Who are your customers, and what are their concerns? Once you’ve established this, you can start creating content specifically for this audience. This stage will also provide the best avenues for delivering your message. If your target demographic is older adults, for example, you should prioritize blogs and Facebook above Twitter and Snapchat.
It’s critical to define your periodicity regardless of how or where you distribute your material. You want to post often enough that people remember you and recognize you as an influencer, but you don’t want to spam your followers’ timelines with unresearched and irrelevant material merely to reach a target. Each post should be informative and have a call to action.
Brand voice is another key element to consider. Finding your brand voice may help you increase the quality of your blog and social media articles. This entails infusing your personality into your material, which aids in building a relationship with your audience and making your content more memorable than just regurgitating industry opinions.
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS CAN HELP YOU REACH NEW AUDIENCES.
Hundreds of videos including talks by diverse influencers across a broad range of sectors may be found by searching for “think leaders” on YouTube. Speaking engagements are effective because they enable you to deliver a message to a particular audience without being distracted by extraneous factors. There will be other articles, stories, or postings competing for attention in publications and on social media. With a speech, it’s just you in front of an audience, demonstrating your industry expertise.
Seminars and conferences devoted to your sector are the best places to communicate your message since they are packed with people who are ready to hear what you have to say. There are, however, alternative methods to express yourself vocally, such as via a vlog or hosting your own podcast. Any platform that enables you to talk passionately about your field can help you establish your position as a thought leader.
PERMANENT PARTICIPATION IN OP-EDS OR COLUMNS
While daily and weekly newspapers used to have a monopoly on the op-ed page when it came to shaping ideas and influencing communities, new digital media have considerably increased the number of people who can be reached. Even if the editorial sections of your local newspaper don’t reach the same readership as they did 10 or 20 years ago, there are plenty of other websites and specialized publications looking for excellent material that would be pleased to share your thoughts with their readers. Remember that reaching the correct readers is more important than reaching a large number of readers.
Determine which publications your target audience reads and contact their editorial staff. Many publications may already have an opinion section or would welcome your input in a column (with a valuable link back to your website).
Take a stand on an issue or dispute in your field, choose a side, and express yourself clearly and effectively. This will make your work stand out, and an editor will feel obligated to publish your op-ed. Once your op-ed or column is published, be sure to maximize your exposure by sharing it on social media, including a link on your website, and promoting it as much as possible. Even if an op-ed differs from a reporter referencing you in a news piece, having your name and thoughts connected with a reputable newspaper is still beneficial.
Determine thinking leaders.
It’s critical to develop a talent pool if the approach will incorporate internal thought leaders. Conduct an interview with each thought leader to ascertain the following:
- expertise field
- unique qualifications
- participation in organizations
- additional material and publications
- activities on social media, including video
- degree of presentation ability
- degree of writing ability that is superior to that of their contemporaries
- any backstories about him or her that the press would find intriguing
- Gather a recent headshot and a short biography for each person.
- Develop thought leaders.
Thought leaders may be specialists in their fields and have a long track record of publication in academic or commercial publications. However, they are often inexperienced when it comes to presenting their ideas with the target audience for a thought leadership approach. Artificial intelligence (AI) professionals may communicate with researchers and academics on a daily basis, but they are unlikely to communicate with CIOs. When asking employees to represent the business as thought leaders, it’s critical that they’re provided the tools they’ll need to succeed. The following materials should be made accessible to thought leaders by organizations:
- coaches for writing, public speaking, and responding questions in an interview
- a fashion designer
- assistance with presentations and interviews (backgrounders and notes for audiences and industries)
- Support for social media and webinars on a technical level
- legal assistance in obtaining disclosure clearance
- Make a decision on a content management system.
In most circumstances, a company’s thought leadership content management system or systems will be the same as any other web-based content management system. It may employ a publication platform like WordPress or Squarespace, as well as a marketing automation tool like Marketo, HubSpot, or Act-On to handle interactions and landing pages, and social media management tools like Hootsuite. The content management system should, in theory, work with all forms of material created and all distribution channels. To make the process easier, the content management system should have collaborative tools.
Formats for content creation
There are many different types of thought leadership material. Every customer interaction should be planned. The most popular kind of thought leadership material is a white paper. The content of a white paper should be available in a format that allows PDF reading and printing. However, white papers aren’t the only kind of document that needs design. Design is also required for consistency and clarity in infographics, press releases, ebooks, case studies, original research, and other media. Before rushing to publish, a strong thought leadership approach considers the design. It’s OK to work on content while designing, but the designs should be finished far ahead of the requirement to fill them with information.
Make an editorial schedule.
The editorial agenda (also known as the editorial calendar) is a list of themes that correspond to publishing dates. The concepts that were brainstormed should be arranged in a logical manner so that they build on one other. To build a fuller story and more possibilities for involvement, follow the publication of original research and/or positioning with commentary and observations.
Successful thought leadership initiatives publish on a regular basis and plan material weeks or months ahead of time. The following items should be on the editorial calendar:
- author: Who is in charge of creating the content?
- the deadline
- editor in chief
- the intended audience
- primary structure
- There are major and secondary channels, as well as
- Search engine optimization (SEO), subedits, and transformation into various channels and formats have duties and deadlines.
The editorial agenda should be seen as a content production strategy. On the content, the lead editor will collaborate with the thought leader or a third-party author. The timetable is controlled by the managing editor or content manager. Thought leadership represents an organization’s reputation, and its development and management procedures should meet the same high quality standards as goods or services.