Thought leadership is a relatively new business buzzword. It’s banded around most commonly when discussing business content strategy. But, what does the term actually mean? Who are today’s thought leaders and how easy is it to become one?
What is thought leadership and who is doing it?
Thought leaders are individuals or businesses that tackle the big questions their audiences want to know the answers to. They release clever, well-constructed content that discusses the future of whatever industry or topic they are expert in. They’re the go-to people in their field of expertise and are powerful influencers.
Should my business concentrate on thought leadership?
Yes, if you can do it correctly, but be wary. Thought leadership is not about answering insane questions or forecasting the ridiculous; it’s about being able to use the talent that you have within your business, to really connect with the audience, whether that is another business or a consumer, to figure out what it is that they are interested in. Then you can scope your content planning around the things you have learnt. You won’t get anywhere if you just start writing blogs about random topics.
You need to have unrivalled knowledge on your subject and resist the temptation to promote yourself constantly. Thought leadership goes deeper than attracting more business. Only take on a thought leadership strategy if you are genuinely interested in making a difference to the people who read your content. New business might come as a result of your reputation as a thought leader, but it should not be the driving force behind your actions.
How do we become thought leaders?
If you’re looking to build a thought leadership content plan, you’ll need to make sure you do the following:
- Make sure your brand and business are strong
There is no point in driving people through to your content if your business is just not quite there yet. If you’re putting yourself out there as an expert, then it’s essential that you are an expert. Experts should have a strong brand and a business that’s operating successfully.
2. Observe mentors and influencers
There is no better way to learn than through watching other people. At some point, you have probably looked at your competitors and copied the things they do that seem to work. If you’re thinking of building a thought leadership content strategy, you should be watching people who are already doing it and learning from them.
3. Get everyone involved
Thought leadership is about having an advanced overview of the things that affect your business. The best people to help you get that overview are your staff and your customers, both of whom should be helping you to form your thought leadership content plan. Maybe you can host a monthly thought leadership workshop for your staff, in which they have the opportunity to talk amongst one another about the future of your sector. Use questionnaires or social media polls to get the opinions of your consumers and use these to construct your content plan. Remember, you have two ears and one mouth. These should be used in the proportion they were given when it comes to thought leadership planning. If you aren’t listening properly and giving the audience what they want, your content won’t achieve what you want it to.
4. Network everywhere and with everyone
You’re going to need a way of pushing your content out there, so you really need to ramp up your networking. You’ll need to attend as many relevant events as possible, promote your content on social media, increase your activity on LinkedIn and send your blog out in the form of a newsletter. The more people who know you the more exposure you’re likely to get. This will help you down the line, when you’ll want to guest blog on industry websites to put your content in front of audiences you haven’t necessarily accessed yet.