Thought leadership is a powerful way for businesses and business leaders to market knowledge, expertise, and insight. In doing so, businesses can gain more market share and customers by offering valuable and valued observations, opinions and analysis.
Done effectively, thought leadership is a key driver in business success.
Thought Leadership 101
What is Thought leadership? It’s the ability to share deep insights and concepts from a differentiated perspective. It’s about offering ideas that prompt customers, clients, competitors, the news media and the general public to reconsider long-held beliefs, challenge the status quo, advocate for a different future outcome or take an industry in a new direction. Thought Leadership is often provocative. It creates discussion and prompts debate. It drives actions.
Thought leadership positions a business or individual as having expertise and interpretation that is rare and crucial. This knowledge needs to be legitimate and at times ground-breaking or paradigm-shifting. It’s also knowledge that is shared widely.
Thought Leadership is Good for Business
An organization or individual seen as a thought leader can have a decidedly positive impact on business. Here are three reasons thought leadership is good leadership and good for business.
1. Brand. Communicating thought leadership develops clear affinity for your business or personal brand. Thought leadership offers an opportunity to position the leader within an industry, sector, community or virtual space.
2. Lead Generation. Thought leadership grabs the attention of desired audiences. By demonstrating expertise in a particular area, thought leaders can attract new business, help retain existing business, and use the elusive word-of-mouth buzz that draws visitors and potential customers.
3. Help. Thought leadership is about providing value. Content delivered to the proper audience gives actionable and helpful information that helps others improve their work, their productivity, their knowledge or their outcomes. Thought leadership is not about giving away all the goods, but it needs to provide value to be considered as having value.
Becoming a Thought Leader
So how does a person or business become a thought leader? It begins with finding the topic, niche or industry where there is true expertise. Ideally, it is one where there is passion, deep knowledge and ability. Once the topic is selected, it’s critical that the thought leader remain well informed and on top of trends, patterns, research, knowledge and markets related to the topic.
The next step is to position the business or person as a thought leader. This means identifying the proper spaces where potential and current clients, customers and followers are. What websites and blogs do they read? What magazines and periodicals do they subscribe to? What conferences do they attend? Being visible in those spaces is crucial so that the right people see and hear what the thought leader has to say. This may mean creating a new blog, writing a book (or e-book), becoming a conference speaker, submitting articles or guest-writing for blogs.
If you’re looking for more refreshing leadership strategies, you might want to consider leadership development training. With a grounding in behavioral science, there’s something to suit the needs of your business so you can learn to optimise your workforce.
Ultimately, thought leadership is service-based content marketing. It is effective when it comes from a base of knowledge and delivers value.