I bet you’ve heard that buzzy little term ‘thought leader’ bandied about by people in the know (and people trying to sound like they’re in the know).
What does it mean, though? Do you know why people are talking about thought leadership and what it can do for a small business?
Let’s cut through the guff and get to the bottom of why this is something you should definitely consider.
Quickly tell me what a thought leader is
In a nutshell, a thought leader is simply a business owner or entrepreneur just like you who has positioned themselves as a subject matter expert. The key term here is ‘positioned themselves as’.
They are the Instagram ‘influencers’ of the business game.
It’s a game you can play
Ok, likely not everyone, but don’t doubt yourself. There are plenty of people out there faking it ‘til they make it. Get involved.
Always remember: a bit of decent, in-depth research can turn almost anyone into an expert.
Give me an inspirational quote please
“Thought leadership should be an entry point to a relationship. Thought leadership should intrigue, challenge, and inspire even people already familiar with a company. It should help start a relationship where none exists, and it should enhance existing relationships.” – Daniel Rasmus
Give me realistic examples of thought leadership content
What are some ways you can start playing this game and reap the benefits of growing your business?
Blogs and articles
This is one of the most accessible forms of thought leadership content. You may not be a professional writer, and some people simply can’t pen a few words to save their life. However, if you have a topic you’re well schooled in, have a go at creating written content that will assist others.
Think guides, advice columns, instructional papers, insightful op-eds etc.
Podcasts and webinars
Introduce some podcasts and webinars to the content mix, why don’t you?
Podcasts have exploded in recent years as people cotton on to the pleasures of long form, in-depth audio content. I bet you have a favourite podcast of your own. Grab a microphone, cue up your favourite topic and get ranting.
Similarly, educational webinars (which, of course, include visuals) are another fantastic way to diversify your content and provide instructional value to your audience.
Speeches and videos
Perhaps you’re a good orator and have a few industry associations you can partner up with? If you’re prominent enough or skilled enough, you could consider pursuing speaking opportunities at industry events and tradeshows.
Perhaps the thought of speaking to a room full of people turns your stomach to the point of heightened nausea? Maybe you have no access to such forums. In that case, sit yourself in front of a camera and record a short speech on topics of interest.
You can use colleagues or external resources to help you create the video or even go raw with your iPhone – a raw, organic style could be your signature. Video is becoming more important than ever, so have a think about ways you can produce a few without breaking the bank. Better yet – you likely have a camera in your pocket that is as good as a professional’s not so long ago…
Social media tenacity
Whichever medium you choose, you’ll need a vehicle to deliver your content to the hungry masses. No surprises here: it’s social media to the rescue.
Harness the best social channels you have in order to serve up your fresh content to eager followers. These posts can even become the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy on social media.
There’s no point creating great content and then hiding it – so pick the channels that suit you best and get posting.
Why would I exert energy on thought leadership?
The benefits are plentiful my friend. Let’s take a gander.
Fuels content marketing
You should be creating content regularly, no matter your particular business.
When you think like a thought leader, the content for blogs, videos, podcasts and webinars almost create themselves.
Publicity and brand recognition
Grow your brand and gain market attention through thought leadership activities. When you’re seen giving addresses, making instructional videos and writing insightful articles, people will become far more aware of you.
You will become the face of your business and in one swoop, you’ll build a personal and business brand built on genuine information and trust.
Followers will share your content and bring publicity to your business and, if you do it right, you may even have reporters, bloggers and influencers asking for advice and quotes or seeking permission to republish your content.
Build credibility and trust
You can’t overestimate the importance of trust in business.
“If there is one trait that your brand must speak of, it is trust.” — Idowu Koyenikan
One of the best ways to build trust is through thought leadership activities.
It’s all about supplying your potential market or existing clients with timely, accurate, useful and insightful information. Don’t try to trick your audience – be 100% genuine. If you keep yourself focused on that task, you will build a wealth of trust in you and your brand.
At the end of every good marketing strategy is a sale.
The net result of all this thought leadership activity should be a trusting, brand conscious audience who are willing to engage your services and products. For existing customers, this is a fantastic way to keep them loyal and their sales consistent or, better yet, in an upward trajectory.
Thought leadership is a sound, long-term sales strategy that will pay dividends if done right.