Successful marketing is all about building trust with your audience, and one way to build trust is to position your business as an expert and a thought leader. So what is a thought leader, and how do you become one? This guide will answer those questions by diving into the following areas:

  • What is a thought leader?
  • What is thought leadership?
  • How to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry?

What is a thought leader?

A thought leader is a person or a business who becomes an authority on a topic. You can become a thought leader as a representative of your business or use the company voice to be the expert.

Thought leaders share educational content with their audiences and usually do not heavily promote their services at the same time. The focus on education and knowledge sharing characterises a thought leader, not their ability to make a sale based on content marketing.

Thought leaders are “influencers” in a business sense. They become recognisable, trusted and authoritative due to their knowledge of the industry or a specific area. Often thought leaders will be considered “ahead of the curve” when it comes to new technology, regulations or news. 

Usually, but not always, thought leaders provide their valuable content (thought leadership) to audiences for free or for an exchange of data (for example, they will ask for an email address in return for content). 

Thought leaders will generally be seen at industry events, giving presentations, or being very active online, so they can consistently showcase their expertise and gain the trust of both other companies in the industry and potential customers.

What is thought leadership?

Thought leadership is the content that proves your expertise. Thought leadership can take many forms but will likely be content you share on your website, social media, or other industry sites (such as writing a guest blog for another website).

The content could be:

  • Blogs and articles, such as top tips or longer, in-depth writing on a subject.
  • Opinion pieces about changes in your sector or your take on relevant news.
  • Videos, which can range from short ‘how-to’ clips to longer discussions of a topic.
  • Surveys and research you’ve conducted, and the results.
  • Interviews with influential people in the industry, either via video, podcast or transcript.
  • Audio content such as podcasts.
  • Slide deck from presentations you’ve given.
  • Results from your work, such as graphs or statistics.
  • Client testimonials or reviews you’ve gained.

Creating a library of thought leadership means that you’ve shown your expertise across a variety of mediums. So when someone visits your website or sees your business name on another website, they will know that you are an authority on the topic as you have a vast amount of content to back up your knowledge. 

How to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry?

So how do you become an “influencer” in business? First, decide if you will be a thought leader as an individual or if you want your brand to be the expert. Of course, companies can be thought leaders too, but it’s often better to put a face to a name to be influential, which you won’t be able via the company.

Create content

Next, you have to create content consistently that proves your expertise.

An easy way to get content ideas is to consider what questions you get asked a lot in your work. Take one of your frequently asked questions, type it into Google, and then scroll until you see “People Also Ask”. This list should give you a variety of spin-off questions that you can use to create content.

By doing this quick and easy content search, you’ll be able to create content that can educate potential customers and make your expertise visible.

Using the list of content types we mentioned earlier, create a variety of content, or even create a series — for example, a “How-To” or a “Most Common Mistakes in ____ Industry” series. Series on relevant topics will show you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening in your field. 

Get familiar with social media

You should consistently share your content and industry news to show that you are an expert in your field and have valid opinions on what is going on that relates to your customers and your business. 

Building engaged audiences on social media can be time-consuming, but start by focusing on the social media platforms that apply to you most. For example, if you are a B2B business, you might prioritise LinkedIn and Twitter, as the culture on these platforms is centred around information sharing. 

If you are a B2C brand, you might choose Instagram or Facebook if your posts need to be more visual. YouTube or TikTok can be productive for both B2B and B2C depending on the audiences you want to reach and allow you to create a library of video content.

Engage with other influencers in the space

Now you need to prove that your voice is worthy of being heard amongst the other big names in the industry. 

Talk to other thought leaders, engage them in discussions on social media and get your name in the important conversations happening in your industry. This could be getting a guest blog on someone else’s site or being asked to join someone on their podcast.

The aim is to ensure your opinions are heard alongside the already established people in the industry. By doing so, you are positioning yourself as equally influential and just as much of an expert about your chosen field as those who are already the “influencers” in the space.

Over time you will become a familiar name in these industry conversations, and customers and competitors alike will trust your views and knowledge.

Make managing your finances easy with a simple app

Becoming a thought leader can be a time-consuming process, but by utilising technology you could free up some valuable hours to focus on your content, instead of doing financial admin.

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Save yourself hours of financial admin, and get back to doing what you do best. Find out more here.

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