Why Thought Leadership Matters for Your Brand
Thought leadership isn’t just an elite buzzword in the business community. It’s a position that sets you apart from what everyone else in your industry is doing. Thought leaders shape their fields with viable, actionable, informed opinions that inspire people to think bigger and do better. They build trust in their followers and inspire them to be more than they ever imagined.
As a CEO, you’re cutting yourself short if your main focus is simply creating the best products in the industry. In addition to launching the best products, set your mind to establishing yourself as the voice of the industry and cutting-edge innovation in business, in policy and in culture. People are eager to follow—but they need someone worth getting behind. By keeping on top of trends and generating ideas and content based on the current state of the industry, CEOs as thought leaders can unify a competitive space by providing content that benefits their audiences.
The innovative growth strategy of thought leader marketing requires taking an honest assessment of your company to see if old business best practices are still relevant. The truth is, they often aren’t. To keep up with modernity, CEOs who want to stay ahead must become trailblazers by ditching the past to focus on harnessing and shaping the future.
Along with the paradigm-shifting benefits of being a thought leader, it’s also an organic way to bring attention to your business without shameless self-promotion. As people get to know and respect your personal brand they get to know and respect your business.
There’s no fast fix on the way up
Thought leadership takes time. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, even if it might appear that way when a new name seemingly explodes onto the scene. It takes time to develop expertise, commitment to a cause and sometimes courage to go against popular thought.
Today, social media platforms allow anyone to reach the masses with innovative content that makes a difference. The average person consumes nearly 11 hours of media per day. That means if you aren’t creating content and marketing it to tap into your audience’s space, you’re making a serious mistake. Not only will it dull your competitive edge—it could cost you your audience.
To market or not to market
As a thought leader, you have the opportunity to define your brand from the ground up. You create the perceptions and opinions that society will hold. By aligning actions, images and words with your brand, people begin to trust you as dependable.
If you’re wondering if you should invest in thought leader marketing, stop right now. The answer should always be yes—if you want to succeed, that is. As a developing thought leader, implement these strategies to stay ahead of your competition.
- Thought leader marketing
Content marketing is one of the best channels for promoting your message. It’s an authentic form of PR and marketing that ensures a closely controlled message. Why? Because it’s about you, and you have the power to determine your public persona. Your main focus in marketing your personal brand is never to self-promote. It should always be to add value to your followers. It’s one of the hopefully many things that sets you apart from others in your field.
- Speaker marketing
The 3 P’s have never made more sense than in the speaking world. Preparation, packaging and promotion are key to building your professional persona. Whatever platform and medium you choose to use, make sure your message is loud and clear. Speaker marketing provides value to your audience through solid content, and they will trust you as the their go-to resource. A following puts clout behind what you say, making you a more in-demand speaker and authority.
- Speaker branding
If you want to make your mark in your industry or world, you’re going to have to find a stage for your message. Public speaking comes with the territory. To build your personal online brand, start thinking—think about who you are, what you are doing and what you offer. Where you’re going begins with identifying who are today and where you want to end up. Speaker branding is about taking stock, then defining your unique value proposition. The main thing to remember in all your speaker branding efforts is to remain consistent across the board—that’s what creates trust among your followers.
As a thought leader with something to say, it’s imperative to let your audience know why they should listen to you. Books provide a platform for thought leaders before a stage ever does. But don’t fret if you aren’t the authorial type. Many of the greatest speakers and business leaders who have the gift of gab hire someone else do dive into the nitty-gritty of their stories in their own branded voice. Ghostwriting is a simple way of telling your story or sharing your message without having to dedicate months or a year of your valuable time to shaping, drafting, revising, and sometimes restarting from scratch.
What do savvy leaders do differently?
Thought leaders are not bound by certain personas or predictable stereotypes. They may or may not have a product behind them, but they always have ideas, and those ideas are gaining momentum to shape the future. The best thought leaders invest themselves into their content. Their time, their personality, their emotions and their opinions shape perceptions and rally groups. As you build your own following, get inspired by these notable people who are making tidal waves in thought leadership.
- Mark Suster
A cross between entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Suster bootstrapped his way to the top. Now, he shares strategies and tactics from an informed place of success. A regular contributor on INC.com, Mark shares his knowledge and expertise with fellow entrepreneurs.
- Seth Godin
Author, speaker, entrepreneur, marketer. You name it, Seth has likely done it—very well. He wrote a handful of bestselling books (18!), then became part of the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013. He shifted the book publishing paradigm by crowd-funding a 4-book series in 3 hours.
- Gary Vaynerchuck
He not only turned his parents’ wine business into a $3M dollar enterprise through the power of the web—now he helps others do the same. By leveraging his wildly popular YouTube show, #AskGaryVee, he connects with viewers to answer their questions and encourage their successes.
Thought leader marketing takeaways
Before they were thought leaders, they were just experts with opinions. They leveraged their knowledge by creating content through which to broadcast their message, and with time, effort, and a lot of thought leader marketing, they broke into our line of sight. Whether a rising or a seasoned thought leader, content (and a good ghostwriter) is integral for your speaker marketing, speaker branding and thought leader marketing success. Don’t let your voice be lost in billions of voices. Market your brand and your views to stand up and stand out.