What Is Thought Leadership?

The next time you’re reading something online, think about how you found it. Were you searching on Google? Reading an online magazine like Forbes or Fast Company? Maybe your friends on Facebook recommended an article to you, or you clicked a link on Twitter.

Now, put yourself on the other side: How do think people find your business? Are you relying on word of mouth, or hoping potential clients randomly find your website?

How can you position your growing business for success in today’s online world?

What if you started publishing your own articles, promoting them on social media, and positioning them to show up in a search? People would be talking about you, recommending your article to others, and finding out about you when they want to know more about products or services like yours.

Thought Leadership: a Definition

According to Wikipedia: “A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.”

While it’s not a new idea by any stretch, thought leadership remains an important strategy for anyone looking to grow his or her online reputation today.

At its core, thought leadership fuels the 3 basic principles of marketing your business: Know, like and trust.

  • Know. By publishing your ideas and expertise on an ongoing basis, you gain the attention of a group of people.
  • Like. That group of people learns about your ideas and services, and through your writing, likes what you have to say enough to learn more.
  • Trust. Gaining the trust of your audience takes time, but with consistency, they’ll begin to rely on you as an expert in your field. They’ll trust you to provide them with valuable, relevant information. When they or someone they know decides to buy, you’ll be a trusted resource.

As I mentioned before, this kind of thing takes time. People are not going to trust you overnight. Still, a well-planned marketing strategy can help. By writing relevant, valuable articles you build thought leadership; people will learn about you and your company and get to know you as a trusted thought leader in your industry.

Why is Thought Leadership Important?

The way we get information has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. The meteoric rise of blogging, search and social media has allowed more accessibility than ever before, both for publishers and readers.

And for businesses, this means the game has changed.

Your customers are no longer looking in the Yellow Pages; they’re relying on search engines. Their morning paper has been replaced by their favorite website, and they talk to their friends on Facebook more than the phone.

This is good news because, with a clear direction, your blog can deliver your message into the hands of millions of people worldwide without the need for advertising or a big name publisher. It’s more accessible and inexpensive than ever before, and there’s simply no better way to build your reputation in today’s digital landscape.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you are a Coach working mostly with clients one-on-one. Based on your education, experience and research you’ve built an amazing coaching program that has life-altering effects for your clients. Your name is spreading like wildfire and you soon realize there are only so many hours you can devote to 1:1 coaching.

You could stay where you are, but you’d be limiting your capacity to reach more people with your message. This, in turn, would limit your income, keeping you in the dollar for hours wheel.

You need to do something different in order to grow your business. So how do you make the jump?

You start building your thought leadership. This is the quickest way to grow your business from working individually with clients to working with them in groups. Groups then turn into retreats and workshops, which turn into speaking opportunities, which turn into book deals.

By becoming a trusted source of information for them, thought leadership can be a powerful business development tool. Through your opinions, ideas, and expertise, you can build your reputation, attract new business, and build a network of referrals.

So, what are you waiting for?

If you feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels, your business isn’t growing as fast as you’d like, or you just want to know more about using thought leadership to your advantage, let us know!