Thought leadership is a powerful way to get your business firmly established in important industry conversations. Your company’s voice becomes increasingly recognised as an industry authority; your input and views become more valued as you lead the discussion. Thought leadership builds your brand.
Michael Brenner, keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group, defines thought leadership as being “Simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.” In an article posted on LinkedIn, Brenner says he believes there are five steps to thought leadership that get real results.
Identify the questions.
All of them. What are this issues that concern your industry here and now? What will happen in the future if you ignore the current questions? Brenner maintains clear identification is essential, as is then prioritising the issues and setting out to find the answers.
Answer those questions.
Do so across a range of different formats and multiple channels to reach the maximum audience. You won’t have all the answers, so you need to gather content produced by others to share with your audience. Some shy away from this view, believing that to be a good thought leader, you should have the solution. On the contrary. You become more credible and more trusted by your audience if not all the content you use comes from you.
Give to get.
Don’t put some fancy or unnecessary obstacle in your readers’ way by asking them to register for anything or sign up for future communication to have access to the debate. Be prepared to be generous with your thought leadership content.
Make it interesting.
A colleague of Brenner’s, Timo Elliott, calls this ROI – Return on Interesting. It’s when what you’ve put together grabs your audience and can be heard above the noise of all that content out there that’s not so much thought leadership as thinly disguised self-promotion. Use case studies, tell stories, show examples.
Invite customers to participate.
It’s a great idea to interview customers to get good content and add balance, whilst always adding your own perspective.
Brenner sums up by saying “Thought leadership is not that one unique thought that only Einstein could have articulated. It’s just about listening, about reflecting and about passion for helping people.”
Your business doesn’t have to be a leading light in your industry to demonstrate thought leadership. It’s simply about beginning the conversation by articulating the questions that everyone else is thinking.