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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, the term thought leadership is the latest corporate buzz word making the rounds in business literature around the globe.
Thought leadership is not a new concept however it’s making a huge comeback in recent years. Why? As global competition intensifies, businesses are desperate for ways to increase their competitive edge. Done well, thought leadership strategies allow businesses and individuals to become top of mind with their target audience to increase sales and overall business success.
What is thought leadership?
The term originated back in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman who stated “A thought leader is recognised by peers, customers and industry experts as someone who deeply understands the business they are in, the needs of their customers and the broader marketplace in which they operate. They have distinctly original ideas, unique points of view and new insights.” Put simply, it’s a person or entity that is perceived to be an industry Subject Matter Expert (SME).
Some characteristics of a thought leader within a specific industry or niche includes:
- Highly skilled
- Currently employed in the field
- Possesses a clear strategy to improve current processes
- Holds peer credibility and a loyal following
How to become a successful thought leader
Exposure, exposure, exposure! Get yourself or your company out there and start talking about your industry! Know your target audience and deliver powerful, inspirational messages that will cut through the clutter and leave a lasting impression over your competitors. Provide free strategies that help solve a problem or overcome obstacles to achieve success. Popular channels include social media posts like Linked In for business-to-business marketing, as well as Facebook and Instagram for consumer marketing. Freebies in the form of Podcasts, e books and blogs are great attention grabbers and a smart strategy to build on your consumer database! Finally, joining online chat groups popular with your target audience is a great way to give meaningful advice and gain credibility in your industry.
It is important that your content is relatable and useful for your audience. Publishing content is cheap and easy. Many so called ‘thought leaders’ jump on the bandwagon and post mountains of long-winded, mediocre content (with fancy acronyms!) and that often doesn’t address what the audience want to hear. Sooner or later their following will diminish and that doesn’t benefit anyone!
A person or entity gains thought leadership status when their genuine words are reinforced by their actions. Providing case studies of past success stories about your industry gains credibility and respect. You can talk the talk, but you need to walk the walk to be successful and taken seriously.
Traditionally, thought leaders gained most of their knowledge through their own business experience. However, these days, a quick google search can provide as much information than you’ll ever need! This abundance of information means thought leaders need to be smarter about the information they provide to cut through all the clutter!
How can I engage my audience and gain credibility?
Firstly, Business leaders are looking for inspiration on how to constantly improve their business and reap the rewards for their shareholders. If you suggest a strategy, you’d better have the research and evidence to back it up!
Secondly, providing a story or narrative to support your proposal or data helps abstract concepts come to life and that will resonate with your audience and keep them engaged.
Finally, storytelling isn’t just words, it’s visual too! Presenting your message with attractive graphics allows your audience to digest the information much more efficiently than simply reading words.
Successful thought leadership gets results! Customers are more likely to choose your brand over competitors when purchasing product or selecting a business partner.
Want to know more? Your VIS Business Growth Partner has a unique 5d process tool that can help transform your personal brand or business into a credible thought leader.
Contact our friendly on staff on 1300 777 847 or book a FREE 30-minute consultation with us today!