Thinking your way to the top: 5 ways to become a thought leader

June 28, 2018

Thinking your way to the top blog

Words matter. What you say to your customers, and about your company, has a bigger impact on your brand than anything else. The words you choose tell a story about who you are, how you interact with people ­and the world, and how you impact on your customers’ lives.

Of course, preaching the same gospel as everyone else won’t go very far towards convincing your audience that you’re ahead of the curve and an invaluable resource – you need to show that you have something that distinguishes you from everyone else. You need unique, well-thought out ideas that show you’re the crème de la crème. You need to be a thought leader.

A thought leader is someone who is known for being an expert in their field; a leader in their market. They are someone who consistently adds a unique voice to the conversation and inspires others to aim for their own success. With 47% of C-suite execs and decision makers saying that thought leadership content had a direct impact on awarding business, and 83% of buyers saying that thought leadership builds trust in an organisation, it’s clear that it matters – and is worth it for your business.

So how can you be seen as a thought leader?

Be authentic

In order to be able to give the best advice, you have to be fully committed to your chosen field, and you can’t hold back – show your audience why you do what you do. Your passion and commitment will rub off on your audience – they’ll realise that someone with so much drive must be an expert in what they’re doing.

A perfect example of this comes from Deborah Frances-White’s podcast, The Guilty Feminist. Deborah gives a no holds-barred take on her (and her guests’) perception of feminism – she’s refreshingly honest and forthcoming (just listen to the opening segment from each episode ‘I’m a feminist but…’ to see what we mean). It’s easy to see from her podcasts, interviews, articles, and social media that she’s completely invested in what she’s doing. This kind of authenticity resonates with said audience and ensures they keep coming back for more.

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Have an opinion

Thought leaders commit to decisions; they’re not afraid to get off the fence. Sometimes people can be afraid of confidently letting others know what they think, but when you’re an expert in your field it can be ok to be a bit more assertive about what you know.

Of course, opinions can change – and that’s ok. It’s important to re-evaluate your thought processes and conclusions every now and then, but that shouldn’t stop you from committing to one based on all the information you have at the time (and part of being an expert is making sure you’re well versed on the topic at hand!).

Gary Vaynerchuk, a wine connoisseur-cum-entrepreneur and digital marketer has his fair share of critics due to his brash personality and borderline aggressive self-promotion – but his critics pale in comparison to the number of followers he’s amassed. Whilst he’s criticised on the daily from people from all walks of life, this disapproval is usually coupled with some admittance of admiration. Vaynerchuk is completely confident in what he teaches and will quickly point out to anyone who asks that there’s no way he’d be able to command the salaries he does without having some substance to his content. Having an opinion and being proud of it is invaluable – as long as you have some proof to back it up!

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Answer questions and give value

Often, clients will come to you for practical advice for taking their business forward. They’ve already weighed up many of the pros and cons, and they’re just not quite ready to take that final step – which is where you come in. It’s all well and good if you’re heralding yourself as an expert on your subject matter, but unless you can show how that translates into results then your expertise is not going to be of much use to anyone! You need to provide your clients with some genuine added value, and that means answering their questions and helping them decide on their next steps.

We love working with Kiwi thought leaders like Richard Conway from Pure SEO – his experience in the SEO world (and business world) is second to none, and he’s not afraid to share that understanding and knowledge.

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It’s all about consistency

If you’re forgettable, then it’s hard to have any sort of sway or influence. One big factor in being unforgettable is making sure you stay at the forefront of people’s minds, and that means putting out regular, valuable content.

Nas Daily, a social influencer, publishes one video a day – without fail. Each of his videos is only a minute long, which means he has to be very concise with his content and its delivery. Whilst some of his videos may be more valuable than others, by producing daily content he ensures that he always has fresh content for his audience to consume.

Even if your words are gold, if you’re only providing your audience with one good piece of advice each year then you’re going to be forgotten. Make sure you have a regular output of content, preferably at a predictable pace so that your audience can anticipate its release.

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Cherish your network

Make the most of your connections – the easiest way to spread your influence is by reaching out to the people that you’ve already established strong relationships with and building off their connections. 

Becoming a thought leader isn’t something you can do by just ticking off a few boxes – it’s a new way of doing business altogether. If you’re simply trying to make quick sales then you probably don’t aren’t going to spend time engaging with your audience. If you want your customers to repeatedly come back to you or to tell others about you, however, you need to offer something unique.

Being seen as a thought leader will help you build up a following of repeat customers; customers who will convince others to engage with you too. There’s no better way to increase your marketing without having to invest huge money into advertising. Show your customers that you know what you’re talking about, offer a unique take on your area of expertise, and your customers will keep coming back for more.

Struggling to find the words to share your expertise? At Intelligent Ink we create thought leadership content to win hearts and minds – so get in touch today to start winning.