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How Thought Leadership Can Grow a Business

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Last editedJul 20213 min read

Thought leadership can build brand awareness, increase sales, and mark you as an expert in your field. But what is thought leadership exactly, and why is it so effective? Find out what it takes to be a thought leader below.

What is thought leadership?

A thought leader is an action-oriented expert in their industry with the ability to pinpoint future trends before they happen. Thought leadership is also concerned with sharing this expertise, guiding others forward towards the next logical steps.

Successful thought leaders are able to draw on their past experience and in-depth industry insight to gaze into the future, contributing to conversations regarding what will happen moving forward. With evidence-backed viewpoints, they help drive their industries forward.

Thought leadership can take on many forms. In addition to conference talks and lectures, you could also share insight through written content like guest blog posts, social media posts, and magazine articles. Podcasts and interviews are also common outlets for thought leaders to share the latest industry news.

What types of people can be thought leaders? Thought leadership examples could include:

  • CEOs and founders

  • Brand experts

  • Mentors

  • Influencers

As you can see from the range of thought leadership examples, this term can describe a wide range of experts who add value to an industry. What they have in common is a commitment to cutting-edge insights and forging peer-to-peer connections.

Benefits of thought leadership

We’ve identified a few of the benefits of following thought leaders in your industry, from following new trends to making processes more efficient. But there are also plenty of benefits to becoming a thought leader within your own sector. Here’s what thought leadership can do for your business:

1. Build your brand awareness.

Establishing yourself as a thought leader is particularly useful for B2B marketing, where fellow businesses are more likely to use the services of those they trust. However, an example of thought leadership being used in a B2C context would be a wedding florist establishing expertise through multiple channels. They could discuss floral arrangements on social media, write guest articles for wedding magazines, and publish their own blog to build brand awareness.

2. Drive sales and growth.

A second benefit is that you can encourage existing clients to use your services more frequently. Publishing fresh, innovative content can lead your audience to view services in a new light, driving up sales and industry growth. It’s also a way to keep in touch with clients after completing a project.

3. Generate new leads

At the same time, you can generate new leads. New clients are more likely to purchase products or services from thought leaders who seem like they know what they’re talking about. For example, an app developer is more likely to win over new clients if they’re capable of producing beautifully designed apps to sell their own service.

Thought leadership strategies

Are you ready to become a thought leader? The first step is to know your industry, inside and out. With that in mind, you can then apply the following thought leadership strategies.

1. Identify what makes you an expert.

What is your background, and how does it differ from colleagues? Be sure to clarify what makes you special in your niche, writing a catchy bio pulling out pertinent details from your resume.

2. Choose the right medium.

Thought leadership strategies might involve blog posts, podcasts, or conferences and events. Identify the communication mediums that you’re most familiar and comfortable with, focusing on these to fine-tune your content. You’ll need a unique perspective to stand out from the crowd, with the ability to accurately forecast trends.

3. Promote your content.

Once you’ve determined the perspective that you’re selling, it’s time to promote yourself. Create content on a regular basis. It’s helpful to set up an editorial calendar to keep on top of blogging for your outlet of choice, promoting all posts on multiple social media channels.

4. Make communication a two-way street.

At the same time, you need to expand your professional network to get more eyes on your thought leadership content. Join online forums related to your industry, attend in-person networking events, and sign up to speak at conferences. The more experience you gain, the better positioned you’ll be. However, you must also keep in mind that thought leadership involves constant growth. Learn to listen to other voices as well as your own. Open communication can spark new ideas and highlight growing trends.

5. Outsource your thought leadership.

Becoming a thought leader isn’t for everyone. You might decide that you don’t want to put yourself front and center, but this doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate thought leadership strategies into your business. Spend time identifying thought leaders within your own organization. These will be employees with extensive knowledge and a passion for their field.

On a final note, media training is a vital component for all thought leaders. When you step up to represent your brand, you must ensure that you’re staying on message during all media interactions. If you’re able to stick to the strategy, your brand can soar within its sector.

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