What comes to mind when you think of the term thought leader? Ask a colleague how they define a thought leader. Do your answers vary? The term may not be new, but it certainly has grown to encompass a wide variety of industries and influencers, from entrepreneurs to technology gurus and influential bloggers.
Defined by Russ Alan Prince and Bruce Rogers in a Forbes article, “A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in it being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise." With that definition in mind, here are four points to keep in mind when deciding if a thought leadership initiative makes sense for your brand.
Delivery of Thought Leadership
Thought leadership can be delivered through many different channels: Traditional news media, online news sites, social media, conferences, trade shows, public policy settings, company blogs and newsletters. Select a channel you enjoy, or where your industry is very active, to capitalize on opportunities for thought leadership.
Finding Thought Leadership Opportunities
There are several ways you can seek thought leadership opportunities. Look for editorial opportunities by doing some content mapping and matching your content with journalist interests. Making a connection based on mutual areas of expertise will increase the likelihood that a journalist or source come to you when they want information on a certain topic. Looking at editorial calendars is helpful. If there is a specific industry topic you are familiar with, reaching out to an editor and pitching a story doesn’t hurt.
Techniques to Position Yourself as a Thought Leader
Being a thought leader is easier said than done - it takes a good amount of effort and research. To position yourself as a thought leader, you can publish articles, appear on television or radio, write testimonies or blog posts, or give public speeches. It's crucial to stay current with industry trends and hot button issues. Discussing a trending issue shows that you are on the cutting edge of your industry.
Payoff of Thought Leadership
Thought leadership strengthens your brand name. When you gain trust among prospective customers and they are ready to make a purchase, they will turn to you, the thought leader organization. If you are an expert in your industry, people will be drawn to your product or service without feeling the need to compare. Being a thought leader gives you a competitive edge.
When thought leadership works, it can do wonders for your company. That’s why investing in it is necessary these days. When people turn to thought leaders, it is to discover an innovative idea or to get a new perspective on a current trend, not for regurgitated, recycled ideas.