How to become a thought leader

Thought leadership can be a powerful element in your corporate public relations toolbox. A well-executed thought leadership strategy builds a favourable attitude toward your company and supports corporate marketing and business objectives to sell products, generate leads, and boost share price. toolbox2_175h1It is the tacit recognition that your organization has a firm grasp of the market, is an expert in its field, and understands the needs of customers.

If your company wants to be a thought leader, then it must actively promote and discuss ideas relevant to the marketplace. By presenting your ideas, your target market assumes that your company has the experience and knowledge to support what it’s saying. Eventually customers, investors and prospects will look to your company for insight, journalists will quote you, analysts will call you, and web sites will link to you.

In a crowded market, your company will have to work hard to build its profile. If your reputation is not strong, you may find it challenging to grow your business simply because potential customers do not want to buy or work with an unknown. They prefer to deal with companies they can trust with an established reputation. Trust is built on relationship marketing and PR, not advertising.

Here are some ways your company can build thought leadership:

  1. Work with the media. Establishing a good rapport with the media is an important component of a thought leadership strategy. If a newspaper or trade journal is running a supplement on your industry, offer to write a bylined article. By maintaining regular contact with the media, your company can become a trusted information source for journalists, helping to increase your visibility in the press and build your reputation.
  2. Publish a case study. White papers and case studies are useful resources that demonstrate you understand and care about the problems that your customers are trying to solve.
  3. Speak at events. Offer to speak at industry events to help raise your company’s profile and increase awareness among target audiences. Ensure that the content of your presentation informs, educates, and provides a unique perspective.
  4. Sponsor an event that attracts a similar target market can help to enhance your reputation by association, foster brand loyalty and reinforce awareness of your company.
  5. Provide quality content on your web site. Your website should provide useful information for customers, prospects, and influencers. The more helpful the website, the more valuable it becomes – more people will return to it, share it and link to it. Consider creating a blog, uploading informative videos, publishing podcasts and participating in online conversations in popular industry forums and chatrooms.
  6. Get involved with your industry. Offer your skills and knowledge to an industry organization that is aligned with your target market. By volunteering to chair a committee or sit on a Board, you have a more influence and opportunities to build your company’s profile.

Becoming a thought leader isn’t easy. It takes time, hard work, an ability to communicate, persistence, passion and calculated risk. However, the rewards can be greater than you’d ever imagine. Before you get started, prepare yourself for all the hard work ahead. And remember that thought leadership isn’t about you! It’s not supposed to be too self-serving or self-promotional. It’s about providing value and quality information for free to build trust, credibility, and a strong foundation to grow relationships with influential audiences over time.