NEWS, SEO | READING TIME: 9 MINUTES | 17 FEBRUARY

Thought Leadership as an Effective Business Strategy

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Gabriel Ghavami, GO MO Group CEO

What is Thought Leadership? 6 tips to become a thought leader

Thought Leadership in a business setting is when an organization or group of people becomes synonymous with their business topics. A thought leader is a reputable source of information that defines the business area and presents new and inspiring ideas. These opinion-makers can get a dedicated fanbase and following, who act as ambassadors for their thoughts and ideas. This lets thought leaders realize their ideas, not only for their business or niche but for an entire industry.

One example is Elon Musk and Tesla, which have become synonymous with electric cars and innovation in the industry. Google searches for “tesla” far outweigh searches for the general phrase “electric cars.” Below we show the development of searches for the respective phrases globally.

Another example is what Steve Jobs and Apple were for the evolution of the smartphone, what Spotify is for music consumption, or what Amazon is for retail. An older example would be Kodak’s impact on the photography industry – it’s not just modern tech companies.

Becoming a thought leader is much easier with a great product or a unique business backing up your theories. If a product is linked to great demand and public interest, there is likely already a great interest group that could become ambassadors for your ideas and industry developments.

Become a thought leader – someone people want to learn from

Thought leadership is often closely related to the individuals heading innovative companies. These strong personalities can create lasting impressions via face-to-face meetings or shine through the business they run. However, being able to present profound or groundbreaking ideas is not everything – new ideas can also create division.

Whether arguing for a change or putting words into action, recipients will respond differently. Some will be convinced, while others will have opinions and experiences challenging your hypothesis. Whatever your attitude or position, the path to thought leadership involves being someone people want to listen to. A position in the forefront of the industry means educating, leading, and learning.

Communicating your brand’s history in a compelling and convincing way will be strengthened by a touching story.

Kommunikation handlar om att berätta ditt varumärkes historia på ett tilltalande och övertygande sätt. Alla vill kunna berätta en kraftfull story som berör.

Tip: Utilize your brand’s unique stories to position yourself as a relevant, well-informed, influential individual. Communicate with a friendly voice that embodies your company’s personality and values.

Six steps to achieve thought leadership

GO MO Group works with some of the biggest brands in their respective industries. From our experience and research, we have compiled some steps below for reaching the thought leadership status.

  1. Ask yourself: what are you the best at?

Define and concretize your organization’s core message. You must be honest with yourself and realize that your organization cannot be the best at everything. Figure out what you can do the best, and define this so that a ten-year-old can understand.

Prominent thought leaders are at the forefront of their field and often have a core message that they propagate (a sense of “why”). The key is knowing where your expertise is most useful and what your interest groups value.

  1. Create content that speaks your language

Expertise is not all that is needed to be a thought leader. You, your team, and the organization need to communicate this expertise. Use your own personal voice when creating content to reach your audience in a unique and personal way.

Keep it real. Your audience will discover disingenuous content immediately. You don’t need to be a great writer, but you must be able to project your personality to the audience. This is where you can set yourself apart from everyone else; no one can copy a genuine message.

Understand how to use video

Video is a popular format for an increasing range of businesses. This trend is perhaps the most evident in TikTok’s rise to one of the most popular social media platforms of the early 2020s, with other platforms rushing to also meet the demand for short-form video. If you are to succeed in reaching a wider audience, video is a great way to communicate in a personal and approachable manner.

Be consistent in your content creation

There needs to be a consistent tone and message when creating content on different channels. It is essential to continuously create memorable content to strengthen your brand to become a thought leader. Content creation is an ongoing process, not a one-time project. Releasing remarkable content is a big part of becoming, but also remaining, a thought leader.

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Provide value to your readers

While thought leadership is related to your brand and organization, it is not sustainable to only talk about your company. The focus should instead be on delivering value to readers. Thought leadership comes from sharing new ideas and helpful information. This is achieved by putting the target audience in the center and creating content from an outside-in perspective (instead of starting with what you want to talk about, for instance).

Create informative and persuasive content

Before you run off and create content, it is important to use data to shape the content strategy for maximum effectiveness. By putting your information and knowledge in the context of your target audience, it will be made more relevant and insightful than if your knowledge stood on its own.

Tip: ask yourself what topic your audience and other influencers want to hear about. What issues do you want to talk about? Where do your vision and brand intersect with public interests and trends?

Your company’s offering – be it a product, service, or your cutting-edge expertise – is only part of the equation. The unique mix of your offering, brand, and what makes you stand out from the crowd, your client impact: this makes up your story. Why do you want to tell it?

Tip: Make it clear why your brand is the voice your audience should listen to.

Finally, think about your desired opinion and viewpoint. For example, you might already have ideas about your brand as an industry disruptor, yourself as an individual thought leader, or the standpoint of your brand as a trendsetter. In any case, this is where the path to thought leadership starts in earnest.

  1. Social Selling is Key

Social selling means using social networks and other digital channels to build lasting relations with your interest groups, ranging from the end-user of your product to other opinion leaders or the media. This communication strategy enables you to find others with an interest in or desire to consume your thought leadership content. In social selling, you want to create trust rather than creating needs or selling your product.

Tip: Make sure to map out the others who are interested and passionate about what you are doing. If you can appeal to them, they could become ambassadors for your messages. Find “the nerds” who are as interested as you are in your industry’s issues, and get them to start referring to your judgment in their work.

If successful, your network will be your trust net worth. If, say, a college lecturer refers to your brand as an example or, better yet, your opinions as a source, you will get a lot of trust from an entire room of relevant people. This dramatically emphasizes your credibility and verifies you as a trusted authority in your field.

  1. Pull Marketing & SEO

Push is a strong complement to pull, but data and Pull Marketing have to be the foundation of the strategy. When you have created a great website, it’s time for you to connect it to the demand that exists on the market – it needs to be found by individuals in your target industries.

The key to successful marketing is organic – ”deserved” – exposure. The largest organic media space available is being chosen as a relevant website on Google search. However, showing up among the search results for search terms related to your industry will get both exposure to a relevant audience and inspire confidence.

Tip: Analyze how buyers in your industry search for questions related to your expert topic, products, or services and answer the questions people ask the search engine. Ensure you use the exact search terms in your content to maximize the chance that Google will see you as a relevant source of information.

  1. Assemble a team of experts

Build a strong team with internal and external specialists to optimize performance in all areas of your pull marketing strategy. A larger team and agile processes allow you to be data-driven in the long term.

Foster a tight-knit team with insights into, and understanding of, all the processes and goals related to thought leadership. If everyone has a holistic view of the project, it is easier to pick up the slack from each other and enjoy synergies, increasing the quality of your output.

Some basic functions:

  • Sr digital strategist – Strategy and execution are both invaluable components of success. Assign a strategist to maintain and develop your digital marketing efforts.
  • Editor/coordinator – As the scope of your marketing grows, a coordinator is responsible for overseeing the different campaigns and making sure everything is up to your standards.
  • Creative UI/UX designer – Your excellent thought leadership content should be presented in a pleasant and accessible way, regardless of format: whitepapers, video, web pages, social media posts, etc.
  • Marketing head/project manager – Any large team will need leadership and someone who applies a top-down view of the many digital marketing strategies.
  • Content writer – Content quality is essential to having a recurring audience, which is a big part of achieving a thought leadership status. Depending on the amount of content you are creating, this team can range from one freelancer to a whole dedicated in-house resource.
  • Analysts – You need someone to measure and analyze the impact of your thought leadership content and create a data-driven foundation for your strategy. Data and reporting give you the assurance that you are running in the right direction – that your efforts and investments will pay off.
  1. Maintain the right mindset
  • Think long-term and be consistent
  • Work harder than your competitors
  • Find your own way and follow it
  • Be daring and take risks
  • Ask for input from other influencers in your area
  • Never stop learning
  • Create the best products/services on the market
  • Do a few things great rather than being too spread out
  • Set ambitious goals
  • Don’t give up – even if the odds are against you

Concluding thoughts on the potential of becoming a thought leader

Aiming for the stars might only take you to the treetops – but that’s a lot better than staying on the ground. It is incredibly valuable to be synonymous with what you do, and many will try but fail. We have highlighted some fundamental pointers and tips to maximize your odds of succeeding.

There is no “magic sauce.” Instead, success comes from a wide range of external and operational factors. Thought leadership is about sustainable success. Like always, execution is equally important to strategy.

In summary, you need a clear vision, hard work, a fantastic product, a strategy based on data, and a competent team for execution.

GO MO Group wants to challenge communication and digital marketing and communicate our clients’ messages in ways that contribute to their thought leadership status. Our value comes from being a partner and trusted advisor that uses data to deliver great strategies in UI/UX, SEO, content, and Pull Marketing on a global scale.

Feel free to contact me to explore the opportunities for a partnership.