I’m so bored of hearing about ‘thought leadership’, and how it can work wonders for your business if you practice it online.
First, let me tell you why it bores me. And then I’ll show you how you can:
- Practice real thought leadership
- Take it to the next level to DOMINATE your category
First up, let’s define thought leadership.
What Is Thought Leadership?
Fundamentally, thought leadership is the expression of ideas that demonstrate you have expertise in a particular area, field, or topic. To be a thought leader (not a follower), I think there’s three inherent qualities your thought leadership should contain:
- A point of view about the world your business operates in
- A defined audience that it speaks to
- Delivery of value to show your defined audience a ‘better’ way than the status quo
A consistent point of view, or at least overarching theme to your view on the world is essential when it comes to thought leadership. If you don’t have a point of view, then you are just a distributor of information – not a thought leader.
If you don’t have a point of view, then you are just a distributor of information – not a thought leader.
In my view, a defined audience is also very important for effective thought leadership. The reason being is it answers the question: whose mind is this thought leadership meant to change?
Finally, thought leadership should offer a ‘better’ way, or an alternative path. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you should be able to consistently offer value using your subject matter expertise to backup your unique point of view on the world.
Why Is Thought Leadership Broken?
The reason I get so BORED of thought leadership is because marketers have bastardised the term. Most practice ‘thought leadership’ by doing the following:
- resharing ‘industry news’ without adding value
- outsourcing a monthly blog to a freelancer that has no subject matter expertise
- telling people about how well your business is doing – ‘We’re hiring!‘
- surface level engagement with anyone who bothers to comment on your thought leadership piece
Even LinkedIn encourages businesses to share industry news based on what’s trending:
That’s not thought leadership. That’s just redistributing old news. Unfortunately, this is what most businesses think practicing ‘thought leadership’ is.
How To Practice Good Thought Leadership
So what does good thought leadership look like?
As I noted earlier, good thought leadership should (a) have a distinct point of view, (b) a defined audience that it speaks to, (c) constantly deliver value to your audience that offers them a ‘better way’ to the status quo.
To do that well, you need to have a very deep understanding of the subject matter that you are discussing. You also need to deeply understand your audience, so you can communicate your point of view to them in a way that they can understand.
How To Go Beyond Thought Leadership and Dominate Your Category
I believe good thought leadership will be table stakes for businesses over the next few years. So now I’m going to show you how to build a competitive edge over them from now. A way that you can go beyond thought leadership.
Put simply: build a two way conversation!
Here’s how you do it:
- talk to your best customers
- find ways to help them (content is a great way to do this)
- have a ’tilt’ on your helpful content so it’s super relevant to them
- when they reach out to you (and they will), respond like a human
Responding like a human means doing things like asking questions back.
You can then take those insights and improve:
- your content
- your product
- your customer service
This will create a feedback loop between you and your dream customers that actually build relationships. Remember, that’s the aim of thought leadership – to build trust and relationships. The more relationships and trust you build in the market, the more you’ll be seen as the ‘go to’ expert in your niche. Do that consistently over a period of time, and you’ll start to see an impact on your pipeline and bottom-line.
Feedback loops keep you closer to the customer, their wants, their pains and their needs. The tighter your feedback loop is, the faster you can adjust how you communicate so they can better understand your view of the world. And the better you do this, the more chances you’ll have to build real relationships that turn into revenue.
Shouting into the ether with ‘thought leadership’ just won’t do that.
Our Ways Of Helping You Go Beyond Thought Leadership
If you follow our 5 BEs Framework, you’ll learn exactly how to take your thought leadership to the next level so you can start building relationships at SCALE with your dream customers.
We share our 5 BEs Framework step-by-step every week on The B2B Playbook.
There’s 3 ways you can learn and implement it in your own business:
(P.S. The B2B Incubator gives you strategy, templates and tools you need to implement this in your business over 12 weeks. Click here to find out more or apply now).
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