Raising brand awareness for your business is a challenging, yet rewarding, element of growing and maintaining your consumer base, and one of the most effective strategies for brand awareness is thought leadership. Thought leaders have unique influence within their fields by providing insightful perspectives on trends, events, and topics pertaining to their industry.
Establishing thought leadership helps a company build credibility, which is especially beneficial for small businesses that wish to increase name recognition and reach broader audiences. There is no single route to gaining the authority and visibility to become a thought leader, but the following are essential tips to set you and your business on the right path.
Tips for Becoming a Thought Leader
1. Find Your Niche
To be a thought leader, you must know and understand what niche you fit into. Not having a specific and relevant niche will make it hard for you to connect to an audience due to a lack of direction and impact. You do not necessarily need to be confined to a single box, but your efforts should be interconnected by a distinct subject or theme.
For example, if you are the owner of a clothing company, then you would engage within the retail sector, but also home in on a niche based on what sets you and your company apart. Perhaps your company focuses on sustainable fashion, or you are known for a specific genre or style of clothing. Whatever characteristics distinguishes your company from others is typically a viable focus for your niche.
To discover your niche, you should also research what your target audience is interested in and talking about. Conducting an SEO keyword search can reveal what topics are popular within your sector and illuminate which areas of concentration are worthwhile. Additionally, stay alert on what existing thought leaders in your industry are currently discussing, as well as the continuous changes and information that flows through the marketplace, because you may need to adjust or adapt your niche based on developments that occur.
2. Maintain Consistency
After finding the right niche, thought leaders should regularly engage on public platforms to build a consistent and recognizable image. This involves publishing content like , photos, videos, infographics, etc., and given the current times, most of it is to be distributed digitally. Not only is it important to cultivate content on your own platforms like your website, blogs, and social media pages, but you should also strive to obtain media placements in outlets that are well-known in your industry.
Consistency should be reflected in both what you publish and how often you publish it. With such a highly saturated digital landscape, high frequency is required to compete with others, but ultimately, quality should be prioritized over quantity, especially for smaller businesses with more limited capabilities. Any visual branding that you use for yourself and your company, including logos, headshots, graphics, etc., should be uniform and eye-catching to increase recognition and retention.
Putting out a large volume of content is only part of the equation; the content must be unique and provide value to the audience. Using your range of experiences, education, and background in the industry, you should discern what kind of interesting insight you can bring to the table. When applicable, your thoughts should be supported by data or research, whether it is by your company or another reputable source. Simply echoing the opinions of others contradicts the concept of thought leadership, so it is important for your content to be original.
3. Network to Increase Visibility
Publishing high-quality content is only useful if audiences are actually able to find and see it, so networking plays a significant role in increasing your visibility. Networking comes in many shapes and forms, and the main goal is to build a mutually beneficial connection with your audience and other thought leaders. Some common avenues of networking include digital platforms like social media and direct engagement at live or virtual events.
Social media platforms like LinkedIn are extremely useful in interacting with your audience on a personal level, but still in a professional setting. It allows for you to increase the value you can provide with your thought leadership, and it also enables social monitoring, which helps you learn about your brand reputation and informs the decisions your company makes based on consumer sentiments and trends.
Participating in conferences, workshops, and other professional events allow you to gain exposure while also connecting with fellow thought leaders. Not only can such events be meaningful educational experiences, but they boost your name value and expand your credibility.
When networking, avoid self-promotion because it makes you appear disingenuous. Instead of only talking about yourself and your company, focus your attention on adding value to your audience’s positions. While self-promotion may feel like the ultimate goal, the benefits of establishing thought leadership in organic and authentic ways exceed that of blatant self-marketing.
Like most things, thought leadership takes time to form, but its rewarding results will take your company to the next level. It will attract new consumers, build trust between your audience, and allow you to shape market trends and behaviors. Any person or business, no matter how big or small, can work towards developing the necessary credibility and visibility to become a thought leader with the right content and strategy.