It goes without saying that the pandemic rocked the traditional business landscape. More of us are living online and businesses are preparing for another unpredictable year. As a result, more people are looking outside their normal sphere of influence for expert guidance.
Beyond the name-recognition you get with well-executed thought leadership, becoming a thought leader assigns more meaning with your brand and builds customer trust— a major benefit considering 81% of consumers said that they need to be able to trust a brand before buying from them.
So, if you haven’t already, now’s the time to embrace thought leadership. Here are 5 tips to follow.
It’s unrealistic that you’ll be able to become an expert in everything, and an effective thought leader isn’t. Today’s media landscape is crowded with millions of viewpoints, thoughts, and opinions and contributing to an area that you have no expertise in won’t bring the results you want.
To make thought leadership worthwhile, choose a topic that you and your audience are already passionate about, speaks directly to your role within the organization and aligns with your greater business strategy. Think about the specific issues within your industry that you can help solve and the long-term goals of your organization. Differentiate yourself by incorporating the values that already set your organization apart. By honing in on one specific area and providing a unique perspective, you’ll build both respect and credibility with your audience. You don’t need to know everything about anything—just know what you do know really well.
Once you figure out what your angle is, establishing your tone and voice comes next. Your thought leader voice will dictate the who you are and should reflect your unique perspective and identity. But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t do your homework.
Study your audience and take your topic into consideration. Are they looking for research-based insights or more position-based advice? Will they respond well to a more conversational and light-hearted tone or will taking a more technical approach resonate better? Your voice should fit your authentic personality to stand out but understanding your audience will help tailor your message to leave an impact.
Thought leadership is achieved through offering valuable and trusted insight, not through acting as a salesperson. As great as your company or product may be, you’ll lose a reader’s trust as soon as they sense a sales pitch.
A great thought leadership strategy works by selling your ideas and building a peer-to-peer relationship with readers, not by selling “down” to them. Conducting your own research can be a great opportunity to share new information and show that your company is an authoritative and innovative player instead of telling them.
Once you start getting out there, the work isn’t finished. Even if you have a great message, it’s impossible to become a leader if nobody listens—which is why engagement is critical. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas on social media and take opportunities to respond to, and answer questions. Engaging in thoughtful discussion online can build more interest and stronger relationships with your audience.
Interacting with other influencers and experts in the space is also a great way to spread your message. Partnering with analysts, podcast hosts, key authors or even with other thought leaders will build credibility while also increasing your reach.
Effective thought leadership doesn’t aim to solve yesterday’s problems, but rather constantly looks to the future. While predictions may have flown out the window this past year, discussing emerging trends and their impact is a still a necessary component to thought leadership.
Offering your daring vision (within reason) shows that you’re forward-thinking and willing to tackle future challenges— but try to avoid any hardline predictions. After last year, over 80% agree that prediction-based content will become less common, but that there will continue to be a market for companies that are bold in their views.
So, feel free to speculate and outline future scenarios, but stay humble, try to keep your timeframe to the next couple of years, and always admit your forecasting limitations. After all, what did we learn from 2020?
Need help crafting your thought leadership strategy? We’re here to help!