So You Want to Be a Thought Leader

Nowadays, everyone is talking about thought leadership. It is often presented as a marketing campaign or a status that can be achieved in a few simple steps.

Do any of these headlines sound familiar?

  • 5 Steps to Become a Thought Leader
  • How to Position Yourself as an Expert

Ironically, these articles about thought leadership often fail to contain the core principle of thought leadership: teaching value. Instead, they share cool tools, tricks, and tasks to try, but you are left with no answer to the most important questions: Why should I be a thought leader? What’s in it for me? 

After all, you, like your potential customers, have limited resources and must prioritize what to try or buy. A thought leader will provide the information you need to help you make those prioritization decisions.

So, what is a thought leader?

A true thought leader is not feature-focused or even customer-focused. A thought leader does not sell or market to customers.

Instead, a thought leader is value-focused. They are a teacher who offers others thorough, unbiased information on the value provided by various solutions to market problems.

A focus on value is more than a marketing strategy – it must be a fundamental component of a brand’s culture.  Value starts with the brand’s mission, inspires product development, drives marketing messaging, and shapes sales strategies.

If your brand’s product – whether it be software, physical goods, or consulting services – is a valuable solution to a legitimate market problem, positioning your brand as a thought leader through sales and marketing efforts will be a piece of cake.

So, what’s in it for you? A true thought leader approach to product development, marketing messaging, and sales techniques will increase sales and grow your business by:

  1. Building credibility in the market. By demonstrating a deep understanding of the market and the challenges customers face, potential customers will begin to look to your brand to provide solutions to their current and future problems. Hook them in and then convert them to customers.
  2. Streamlining sales. Developing a solution that solves a real problem, and then teaching prospective customers how your solution will improve their lives in some way, will result in easier conversions of prospects to customers. Ensure that the prospect “gets it” and no hard sell is required.
  3. Strengthening customer relationships. Positioning yourself as a partner who is focused on solving customer problems leads to increased customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers become brand promoters in the marketplace and a valuable extension of your sales and marketing team.
  4. Improving your brand. Products that are value-focused evolve as market problems and customer needs change. If your brand is truly value-focused, you will consistently gather market and customer feedback to continue to improve your brand and increase your success in the marketplace.

 Thought Leader Definition

Now that you know how establishing your brand as a thought leader can increase sales and grow your business, how will you incorporate it into your brand’s growth strategy?

You can also check out some practical tips from Lucas Carlson’s recent post on Kissmetrics.