It can be one of the hardest elements of your marketing campaign, but positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry is essential to attracting big business and building your reputation in your field. You will no doubt already be producing lots of blogs filled with actionable tips that your readers will thank you for endlessly. And of course you will be producing a restrained amount of self-promoting blogs, as well as telling that all important ongoing story of your business, what’s coming in the future, and what your loyal followers can expect from you next.
This is all very well and good, and indeed an essential part of any marketer’s blogging and social media efforts, but this is only half the battle when it comes to promoting your business. What you really need to be doing to bolster your online presence and give a substantial boost to your brand authority is to be producing a regular stream of thought leadership pieces that position yours as a company who is helping to shape the future of whatever industry it is that you’re in.
To become renowned and respected as a thought leader and industry authority is not going to happen overnight. You have to earn those accolades, and build up that sort of reverence over time. So, it’s essential that if you’re not already producing these kinds of articles that you start immediately. Because, all the time that slips by without you positioning yourself as such an authority, your competitors will be stamping their ground on the same patch.
Indeed, the purpose of making your stance as a thought leader is to build for yourself a more competitive reputation, and therefore improve your business profile and drive more revenue in the process.
So, to help you along the way to such presence and prowess in your marketing space, we’ve put together this quick-fire guide to thought leadership that will help you start to produce those articles that establish you as an authority in your niche, and not just another sheep that’s out there bleating and re-bleating what others have already said a hundred times before.
Guide to be a thought leader for marketers:
1. Understand Your Market And Your Audience
OK, so all marketers need to understand their target audience, and those of you who are at all successful no doubt will. But, when it comes to thought leadership, understanding your market goes beyond keeping your eye on what’s hot and what’s not in terms of product sales.
No, being a thought leader means that you have to start sticking your neck out and contributing some meaningful, insightful, inspiring, and perhaps even controversial opinions about what’s happening in your industry. You have to be current, fully informed, and bring the news of any innovations or surprises in your industry to your followers before your competitors even get a sniff of it. But, above all, you have to use this news and information to generate your own original ideas about the state of your industry’s ongoing evolution, and also about how you think that the industry should evolve.
It stands to reason that to be a thought leader, you should have some pretty serious ideas about what should be happening in your field, and also some predictions as to what will happen in the future as a result of what’s happening now.
2. Offer Value Through Empathy And Altruism
Being a thought leader is not about trying to sound more important than all of the other voices that are out there. You have to be human and empathize with the problems that your audience will be facing, and lend your thoughts and opinions about how these might be solved.
Don’t start coming up with weird and whacky ideas just because you think that will make you stand out, because it won’t. Or rather it will for a brief period, but for all the wrong reasons, and you will soon gain a reputation for being an amateur, a scaremonger, or even just an idiot. Don’t do this, because you’re not any of the mentioned. Remember, being a thought leader is primarily about trying to genuinely help your audience, not impressing or frightening them. In actual fact, thought leadership comes with quite a considerable amount of responsibility, so tread carefully and always speak wisely.
3. Give It Away
If there’s one thing that being a thought leader is not about, then it’s sales. Not directly anyway. You will not create a traceable revenue stream by offering up your interesting insights about your industry. But, that’s not what you’re doing it for. You will become a thought leader for the simple purpose of adding value to your business, nothing more. True, you will hope to generate a few more leads throughout the process – otherwise, what’s the point in doing it at all? But, the main purpose should be that you are giving information away for free to those who care to find it. And they will.
Thought leaders are the ones who start to make a name for themselves, who other writers come to for interviews and opinions, and who get invited to present at conferences. This is where the value will be added to your brand – through you, and the respect that you command in your industry.
Content marketers who want to turn themselves, their brands, or their companies into thought leaders need to start paving the way for that to happen now. When it occurs, it will be like a mutation in terms of how you’re perceived. No longer will you just be another bleating sheep amongst the flock who are ultimately just trying to peddle products, but a brand that is giving something truly useful and valuable back to its customers and the world at large. With this in mind, you have to make sure that your company always practices what you preach, and you will begin to lead the way to something much better for all.
What are your thoughts on being an influencer? Share with us in the comments below how you think a marketer can establish himself as a thought leader!