By Candace Huntly
It’s always nice to be top of mind because someone thinks you’re good at what you do. Whether you offer a service like sleep training for tired parents, photography, or legal services for small businesses, or you offer a product like natural skin care products, non-alcoholic beer, or wearable art, chances are you have honed your skills and you could be considered an expert. If you are a business owner, you should be showcasing that expertise through your marketing by creating a thought leadership strategy that establishes you as the go-to expert in your field.
When should you create a thought leadership strategy?
Nowadays, EVERYONE calls themselves a guru. The problem is not everyone has the skills and expertise to back up that claim. You should build and execute a thought leadership strategy when you have something of value to share with your target audience. We often suggest that a thought leadership strategy should be a part of your launch strategy so you can build trust and credibility right from the beginning. If you didn’t start right from the beginning, not to worry because it’s never too late!
What does a thought leadership strategy look like?
The end goal is to establish you as the go-to expert in your industry. There is more than one way to get there, but here are a few things to consider as you build your thought leadership strategy.
1: Establish your area of expertise
If you have started a business doing something, chances are this will be the expertise you focus on to build your thought leadership strategy. This way, your thought leadership strategy will help to build your business in a meaningful way. The challenge is to find creative ways to talk about your area of expertise so it is fresh and different from your competitors.
2: Figure out who would find it valuable
You likely already know who your business is selling to. This is your main target audience and the end goal when it comes to targeting your thought leadership strategy. However, you also need to figure out if there are other people that will find what you have to say valuable. For example, would this be something the media might discuss? Could influencers be interested in learning more about the topic? Is there a niche group of professionals who might be interested in what you do?
Identifying all niche groups that would see value in what you have to offer will help you figure out what tactics to use as part of your thought leadership strategy.
3: Your blog is your expertise hub
If your website is your main digital information hub, then your blog is your digital expertise hub. Regularly updating your blog with interesting content will not only give people a place to find more about what you do, but it will also give you fresh content to talk about on other channels and higher search engine rankings when people are looking for specific topics. It is also the one place online that you can really control the narrative 100%.
4: Social media helps you connect with your audience
Social media takes time, but it is absolutely necessary if you are looking to engage your target audience online. Choosing the right social media platforms to be on is key to optimizing your social media strategy. All it takes is a bit of research and listening to figure out where your audience actually hangs out online. There is no point in spending a lot of time on platforms that will get you no visibility or engagement. You should aim for quality connections that are meaningful and create a loyal community of supporters.
Your social media content should always provide value to your followers and you want to make sure that you stay on message to promote your thought leadership platform.
5: Media relations is a great strategic tool
Sometimes it makes sense to work with third party channels to help you get your message out there. If your area of expertise is something that the media would be interested in, then it can help to add credibility to your claim of being an expert. In the context of a thought leadership strategy, media relations should be looked at as a tool within your tool box rather than the ultimate goal. You might get coverage in 10 media outlets, but if you don’t share the content, people may not see it. Use your media coverage as a way to talk about your latest thoughts on a specific topic by engaging with your target audience directly as well.
6: Get over your fear of public speaking
For many people, public speaking is a bit daunting. Standing up in front of a group of people, whether it’s 10 or 10,000 can seem scary because you are making yourself vulnerable. However, public speaking allows you to speak directly to a group of potential customers and share your knowledge with people that will find it valuable. Keep in mind that in most public speaking situations people have chosen to be there because they find your area of expertise valuable. You don’t need to win them over by convincing them of that, you just need to share your knowledge. Find opportunities where you know your target audience will be to make your topic an easier sell.
If you are struggling to find your footing as a thought leader, you might try re-evaluating your topical focus, your target audience, or the way that you are sharing information. If you are stuck and you want to chat about your thought leadership strategy, feel free to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.