The Basics of Thought Leadership

Hidden Potential

Establishing yourself and/or your organization as a thought leader is not always an easy task—but it can change the way your entire company, product, and/or service is received by the public. It can also establish a far deeper bond than simply being the brightest box on the shelf. Thought leadership creates a connection between consumer and producer that is incredibly important in the digital age.

What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership is a form of content-based marketing that’s about more than just sharing information. It’s about creating and disseminating new perspectives, concepts, and solutions that help potential clients perform better at home, at work, or at play. Companies that put out information beyond technical notes and instructionals, diving deeper into discussing the problems and solutions that their target audience faces, have the potential to become thought leaders in their respective fields.

Who needs thought leadership?
Any organization that wants to connect with people to cultivate a deeper relationship.

The best way to explain it is this: with phrases like “fake news” being thrown around, which media outlet do you turn to? You probably have at least one that you have faith in, which you believe is out to spread the truth. That media outlet is a thought leader, and you are the consumer who trusts their brand.

Likewise, there are consumer brands you know and trust. You may even head to their websites when you have questions about issues relating to their products, or you might follow them on social media. This is because you care about more than just their product, and want to know more about their company philosophy and how they can provide you with vital information in your everyday life.

Most importantly, you have inevitably checked out the website for a product or service you use in your career. These are one of the most important thought leaders we deal with, because we all take our jobs very seriously. Thought leaders that can appeal to the professionals within are often the most sought-out in their field.

When is thought leadership important?
Thought leadership exceeds the standard consumer cycle to bring trust and familiarity into a historically cold and calculated transaction. Thought leaders enjoy more than just a quick sale; they show steady increases in revenue due to repeat clients and positive word-of-mouth.

Whether you’re just starting a new business or trying to boost engagement with your existing brand, thought leadership is a great way to connect on a deeper level with prospects and customers alike. Creating content that addresses concerns facing your target audience will always carry your company higher and farther than listing the reasons why someone should buy what you’re selling. While branding-based advertising is essential part of good marketing, thought leadership takes marketing efforts to a new level. Providing knowledge, free of charge, is a great way to illustrate your company as a human organization with more to offer than consumers might realize. It piques interest and helps build trust before a prospect even makes a purchase, and often helps them feel more comfortable pulling out their wallet.

How do I become a thought leader?
Talk about what you know! Give people information that they need: don’t be overly concerned by standing out from the crowd, but don’t regurgitate old information either. Be true to yourself, your company, and your product through well-thought out posts, articles, etc. and you’ll find a natural uptick in sales from customers new and old. Do you specialize in engineering solutions? Start a blog that discusses the challenges facing modern engineers.

Be transparent, but don’t go overboard. Creating just one or two small pieces that relate to your field of expertise, then circulating them deftly, will provide just the boost you need to put you and/or your organization on the road to becoming a thought leader.

- Lindsay Jawor