Why You Need To Be a Thought Leader

Why Presence is More Than Being Online

In today’s world, having an online presence is as important as having an email address. You can’t run a successful business without one. But a website and Facebook page and Instagram account alone is not enough if you want to be taken seriously and have the impact you truly want to have.

While number of followers and website visits are important indicators of your reach and ability to serve your customers and sell your products and services, there is an even more important indicator of long-term growth, sustainability, and overall impact—for both your business and others.

Thought leadership marketing.

Do you want to be known as someone who has a lot of website visitors, or as a reliable and trusted leader in your industry?

Do you want people liking and hearting your posts, or seeking you out as an authority on a subject near-and-dear to their hearts?

Do you want to spend your valuable time and marketing dollars searching for your next customer, or creating and sharing valuable content that attracts your ideal audience?

We thought so, and we want to share why others think so, too. But, first:

What is thought leadership marketing?

Michael Brenner of the Marketing Insider Group defines it as, “a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience, on a particular topic.”

Thought leaders share their knowledge, experience, and perspective in a way that creates authority and inspires consumers to take action. Like all effective branding and marketing strategies, they identify and address the needs of the customer. Thought leadership need not be lengthy whitepapers or hour-long videos (though that totally counts). Any content consistently shared—be it 140-characters long or a three-minute video—that offers a solution to or addresses a burning question from your consumer base is thought leadership.

So, why is this so important, you may ask?

Why thought leadership marketing?

As Michael Brenner points out, benefits of thought leadership start with brand affinity. People not only hear about you or see you, they feel connected with you, they see you as a trusted adviser, someone they can count on. This matters since you are competing not only with other companies that do what you do, but also anyone who creates and shares content. In addition, it can drive engagement with larger numbers of potential customers, and, ultimately, a greater sense of brand loyalty.

A few additional benefits of thought leadership marketing are:

  • It supports and strengthens your content marketing efforts (making those dollars work more for you).
  • It builds trust between your brand and audience (and we all know how important trust is when it comes to marketing, especially when, according to a recent study by Hubspot, only 3 percent of people surveyed said they considered marketers and salespeople trustworthy).
  • It helps move potential customers through your sales funnel by removing doubts and solidifying your brand in their minds.

In this Forbes article, Megan Groves reminds us that, “In the end, thought leadership is the most powerful type of content marketing at every stage of your brand’s growth.”

By now, you’re most likely thinking …

How do I become a thought leader?
Establishing yourself as an expert doesn’t require a PhD or a list of credentials a mile long. It requires that you have a passion for what you do, an opinion about it, and a desire to be of service. Also, you need to know your audience and want to offer them something they will find valuable to their lives. What is it that they don’t know (and want to know)? What are the questions they are asking? Then, provide the answers to them in a way they can receive it.

Being a thought leader need not be “just one more thing”—it needs to be the new way you approach your marketing. And Danielle Sabrina offers a few helpful “dos and don’ts” of thought leadership marketing to get you started on the right foot:

  1. Show, don’t tell. Don’t just say you’re brilliant at what you do; write an article or record a video sharing a unique tip or approach your consumers can benefit from.
  2. Provide, don’t promote. Offer solutions and insights instead of simply pitching what you do and why someone should hire you.
  3. Depth, not breadth. You don’t need to know everything, but have an opinion on something you and your customers care deeply about.
  4. Analyze, don’t assume. Interview your customers, ask them what they want to know. There are countless ways to get to know what your customers are looking for.
  5. Open a dialogue, not a monologue. This ties back nicely to the importance of building a tribe and engaging your customers in the discussion.

Now, don’t worry—you don’t have to do this alone. Thought leadership can come from many places. Leverage your customer service reps, your executives, your sales reps, your product developers, your marketing team. Heck, your entire brand can serve as a thought leader.

“Knowledge is power. Knowledge shared is power multiplied.” – Robert Boyce

Remember, marketing is not just about driving sales (though that’s important when it comes to business); it’s about being of service. And one very important way to be of service and offer your clients value (which ultimately drives more sales) is by sharing your knowledge, experience, and unique point-of-view freely and consistently.

Don’t know where to start or how to go about creating content that delivers value to your customers and positions you as an authority? That’s what we’re here for.

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