There are many strategies you can use to establish your brand. You might promote your consulting business on social media. Perhaps you’re a coach who is winning at your email strategy. But I want to talk to you about one strategy that combines all of these into one powerful punch: thought leadership marketing.
First, we’re going to talk about what thought leadership is and why you should care about it. Then, we’ll look at several tactics that will help your thought leadership marketing strategy.
What is Thought Leadership?
Thought leadership is a term that has been around for nearly 30 years. It describes someone who has a deep understanding of his or industry and customers. This translates into original ideas, new insights, and valuable points of view. Because of this expertise, peers, customers, and other industry experts all tune in when a thought leader speaks, shares on social media or communicates in another forum.
But this is not a title that you can just slap on your LinkedIn profile and be done with it. You have to earn it. And wait for someone else to label you as a thought leader — it will mean a lot more that way!
Don’t expect to become a thought leader within a couple of months. This is a powerful title that can take time to cultivate.
Now, this may like a tall order to fill, but don’t let these details intimidate you. You don’t have to be the founder of a billion-dollar company to become a thought leader.
And it might not be as far off as you think.
If you’re a coach or consultant or other small business owner, you already use your knowledge and expertise daily. You’ve become the person that your clients turn to for answers. Thought leadership is simply expanding that circle of influence. As long as you have the time to invest in developing your personal brand and connecting with others, thought leadership is within your reach.
Why Should You Care About It?
The answer is simple: Because it’s valuable.
The value of thought leadership is in the competitive edge that it gives you. Thought leadership places you front and center in your client’s mind, generates more sales leads, and gives you that extra power you need to close deals.
Not convinced? Check out a couple of statistics on thought leadership
And in the same Edelman-LinkedIn study, only 17% of respondents said that the thought leadership content they consumed was very good or excellent.
What does this mean for you?
While people are looking for thought leadership content, many are not finding the caliber of thought leadership that they want.
That’s where you come in.
People are hungry for thought leadership in marketing and other industries — they want to learn from and follow someone. So how can you position your consulting or coaching or other small business to meet this demand? Let’s discuss some specific thought leadership marketing tactics that will get you there.
Thought Leadership Marketing Tactics That You Can Start Using Today
1. Nail Down Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is made up of many moving parts — how you dress, how you speak and write, your personality, your education and background, and much more.
But your personal brand should revolve around one central quality: authenticity.
Be yourself. Don’t try to imitate what others are doing in content or on social media. Take a good look at yourself and decide what your values are, how you want to communicate with your audience, and how you want others to see you.
A personal brand can take many forms. But at the end of the day, the more you are true to yourself, the more your audience will sense that and trust you.
2. Create Content Around a Central Theme
Content is an essential building block of thought leadership. After all, it’s a great way to provide proof of your thought leadership and attract others to your expertise.
This content can come in many forms. You might write blogs, create videos, record a podcast, or choose another content format that you think your audience would consume.
Whatever format you choose, build it around a central theme. Choose something you’re passionate about, know well, and are equipped to address. This will help ensure your content is engaging and stand out.
Later, you might expand to include other themes. But start small at first. This will keep your audience’s attention focused on you.
3. Distribute Your Content
Once you’ve created content, it’s time to get it in front of the right eyes.
Social media is often the first line of communication with your audience. So post your content there. It might be a blog post, a link to view your latest video, or an announcement that your podcast is live. Don’t forget to include hashtags, which can help people find your content organically.
You can also post your content to industry-related groups on social media that you think will appreciate it.
For an especially in-depth piece of content, you might even consider paying to boost that content to reach people outside of your immediate audience.
Apart from social media, there are many other ways you can distribute your content. For instance, you could…
- Include it as part of your email newsletter.
- Add it to your email signature.
- Submit it to an industry trade publication or website.
Whatever your method, distribution needs to be part of your overall thought leadership strategy.
4. Make Connections
A leader needs followers. To get followers, you will need to start engaging with people outside of your company.
Use industry events to meet people and chat with them. If you’re a speaker at an event, this gives you an even greater opportunity to connect. At the end of your speech, you can invite people to follow you on social media and ask any questions they had about your speech there. When people reach out on social media with comments and questions, be warm, friendly, and engaging. You never know what impact even one follower could have on your strategy.
Social media in itself is another great place to connect with people. Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to participate in industry conversations. The more people see your name and the expertise behind it, the greater the chance they will follow you.
This all helps you to grow a loyal audience that will boost your thought leadership strategy.
5. Take It Slow and Steady
Finally, remember that respect and trust aren’t won overnight.
You can’t just blast out your message on your blog and social media for a week and expect results. Thought leadership is the result of consistent quality over a long period of time.
So prepare yourself to put in the work over the long term.
A content calendar can be a great way to keep you focused on your thought leadership goals. Plan out what content you want to create and how you’re going to distribute it. Make it part of your regular workload — not something extra that can be pushed aside.
Consistently being there day after day, creating content and engaging with your audience, is at the core of thought leadership.
Concluding Thoughts About Thought Leadership Marketing
As we’ve discussed, thought leadership requires work. But it’s a strategy worth every penny when you finally get there.
Don’t let the hard work scare you off from making an investment in yourself that will last for years, even decades, to come.
I hope these tactics help you to nail your own strategy and start on your own journey toward thought leadership.
Author: Wendy Marx
Wendy Marx is President of Thrivingat50+. As a personal branding and reinvention coach, she is sought after for her ability to help people get unstuck in their careers and become brands of distinction. Here articles have appeared in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes, New York Times, Advertising Age and other… View full profile ›