If you’ve been in the online space, you've probably heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, Marie Forleo, Amanda Nguyen, Neil Patel or Seth Godin…what comes to mind when you think of these people?
These people have something in common — they are thought leaders in their respective industries —their opinion matters because they have something valuable and authentic to share with their audience, they stand out, have a huge following, and are experts in their industries.
Many business owners aspire to be thought leaders in their industry. But with so many influencers and aspiring thought leaders out there, it can be challenging to stand out. So today on the blog, let’s take a look at the things you need to be doing to become a thought leader in your industry.
What Exactly Is A Thought Leader?
A thought leader is a go-to person in their field of expertise. They are reliable sources of insight, information, and guidance and have a positive impact on those around them.
What Is Thought Leadership Marketing?
Thought leadership is the delivery of authentic and genuine content that uses the expertise, insight, and proven experience of a person to share that wisdom with others. Sometimes, it can also involve taking a stand on a particular topic.
Thought leadership content is not intended to convert prospects directly BUT indirectly helps you build a loyal following and eventually attract potential customers. Now that we’ve established what a thought leader is, let’s take a look at the things you need to be doing to become a thought leader in your industry.
- Maintain an active business blog. Writing high-quality articles as a part of your thought leadership strategy is an excellent place to start. But before you begin crafting content, make sure to research the topics you want to cover. Create high-quality content that genuinely adds value to your audience to educate, entertain or inspire them. Whether you decide to publish weekly or bimonthly, the key is to focus on value-driven posts and consistency in creating and publishing them. Another important thing to note is to make sure your website is professional looking and represents your brand.
- Publish long-form content. Once you become comfortable with writing short articles, you can then start creating long-form content. Long-form content covers in-depth information on a topic ( like the one you’re reading now). Long-form content is good for SEO as it increases the number of time visitors spend on your website that’s why it is. Aside from that, it is also a great way to position yourself as an expert by proving your knowledge of in-depth information on a topic in your niche.
Examples of long-form content are whitepapers, case studies, e-books, detailed blog posts, how-to guides, tutorials, evergreen web pages (FAQs, testimonials, etc), Data roundups and reviews, etc. There is conflicting advice in terms of how long a long-form content should be but the truth is - to focus on the quality and value rather than the number of words. Instead of simply promoting your products and services, educate your audience by picking a topic related to your niche and providing valuable information. Again, whatever the size of your content and whichever type of media you decide to use—make sure to commit to quality.
- Launch your own podcast. Podcast reach is growing rapidly because of its accessibility making it another great platform to share your expertise and become a thought leader. Not only is it cost-effective but also is a great platform to reach potential customers that are more likely to listen than read. Here you can cover topics related to your area of expertise and invite other industry experts as guest speakers and address crucial issues.
Moreover, podcasting is also a good ground to hone your speaking skills when you decide to speak at conferences and events (which we will talk about shortly.)
- Be authentic & share your story. Authenticity is what makes thought leaders stand out from millions of people out there. Being authentic makes you relatable and makes you stand out in the online world of generic posts and blogs. Tell your story, and give details - where you are today and what you learned along the way. People love inspiring stories of struggle and success, they like to be inspired and connect. This also gives a face to your brand/company allowing your audience to connect with you.
- Contribute guest posts and get published as often as you can. Get yourself published on other blogs and notable websites, media publications, and established and authoritative sources related to your industry. Aside from self-publishing and maintaining an active blog, this will give you more exposure and give you more credibility, this will also help you get backlinks, mentions, and shares.
- Speak at webinars and in-person conferences, events and seminars. Seek speaking opportunities, attend in-person networking events and become a member of relevant associations in your industry so you can increase the number of people in your network. This allows you to build credibility with credentials and this increases your chance of becoming an authority or influencer.
- Have a clear, defined point of view and stick to an area of your expertise. Pick an area on what you do best and stick to it. Focus on that selected area of your niche and hone it, so you can be an expert on it sooner. Don’t try to be an expert in every area of your industry. It is better to be known as a top expert in one area than to be just average in everything.
Be clear and consistent with your insights. A thought leader is to have a clear, defined point of view so make sure that your comments and contributions on topics are well thought of.
- Establish Brand Credibility and authority by highlighting your area of expertise. As I previously mentioned, talk about what you know best. When you have something valuable and original to say, people will listen. Genuine expertise can’t be faked. If you truly know your stuff, it always reflects in the content you create and your audience grows steadily as a result.
- Keep up to date with current news and trends in your industry. Thought leaders recognise trends in their field of expertise and provide insights to others. The landscape is ever-changing and as I always say it is important to keep on learning - to research and look more deeply into what’s going on in your industry so you can best serve your clients and deliver information.
- Work on your core leadership skills. Being a thought leader means you need to have core leadership skills, that is the ability to inspire and influence others and encourage others to help them follow their dream. You need to have a positive impact in your industry and be able to engage with others, encouraging them to learn from your expertise.
- Be a flexible leader. Great leaders are flexible, they know how to listen and be able to take feedback to improve. Change is constant and inevitable, adaptable leaders can accept, embrace and lead through changes. They find ways to implement these changes to current situations and find new ways to solve problems.
- Be active on social media. Social media is an effective tool to establish yourself as an authority in your industry because it humanises your brand. You can use social media to share your content, comment and share industry news, connect with like-minded individuals and offer advice. By answering questions on social media, you make yourself accessible to your audience and be able to connect with them organically without coming across as too promotional.
- Build genuine relationships with your customers. Promote a two-way conversation with their customers so you can learn about their needs and how your products or services can help them. Successful businesses build relationships with their customers—they genuinely care about their customers and have genuine conversations with them.
Thought Leadership marketing is a long-term business strategy. It may take time but with the right strategy, patience and perseverance, you will be on your way to becoming one of the thought leaders in your industry. And if things aren’t clicking? I’m here to help position you as the expert in your industry.
As an award-winning business and marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience, I've helped female entrepreneurs in the health, beauty, fashion and lifestyle industries create cult brands and become the go-to person in their industries. Join my business consulting waiting list or you can learn more about my service here.