Skip to content

WASHINGTON DC | CHICAGO | DENVER | LOS ANGELES | MIAMI |MINNEAPOLIS | NASHVILLE | SAN FRANCISCO

How To Be A Thought Leader

In today's fast-paced business world, establishing thought leadership in your industry can be the key to success. By positioning your company as a thought leader, you can establish credibility and trust with potential customers, increase brand awareness, and attract top talent. However, becoming a thought leader is not something that happens overnight. It requires a combination of strategic planning, consistent execution, and a commitment to providing value to your audience. In this blog post, we will explore the best practices for how a company can be perceived as a thought leader in their industry, and provide examples of companies that are doing it well.


1. Identify Your Niche

The first step in establishing thought leadership is to identify your niche. Your niche should be a specific area of expertise within your industry that you can become known for. By focusing on a niche, you can establish yourself as an expert in that area and provide valuable insights and information to your audience. For example, if you are a software development company, your niche could be mobile app development, cloud computing, or cybersecurity.

One company that has done an excellent job of identifying their niche and establishing themselves as thought leaders in their industry is HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing and sales software company that specializes in inbound marketing. By focusing on inbound marketing, HubSpot has been able to establish themselves as experts in the field and provide valuable insights to their audience. HubSpot's blog, which is filled with informative articles and research, is a prime example of how they have established themselves as thought leaders in their niche.

2. Create High-Quality Content

Creating high-quality content is key to establishing thought leadership. Your content should be informative, engaging, and provide value to your audience. This can include blog posts, whitepapers, e-books, webinars, and podcasts. The key is to provide content that is relevant to your audience and demonstrates your expertise in your niche.

One company that has done an excellent job of creating high-quality content is Moz. Moz is an SEO software company that provides a wide range of SEO tools and resources. Moz's blog, which is filled with informative articles, case studies, and research, is a prime example of how they have established themselves as thought leaders in their industry. Moz also offers a range of free resources, such as their SEO guide, which provides valuable insights into the world of SEO.

3. Leverage Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool for establishing thought leadership. By leveraging social media, you can connect with your audience and provide valuable insights and information. Social media can also help you build relationships with influencers and other thought leaders in your industry.

One company that has done an excellent job of leveraging social media is Buffer. Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that helps businesses manage their social media accounts. Buffer's social media profiles are filled with valuable insights and information, and they regularly engage with their audience. Buffer also leverages influencers and other thought leaders in their industry to provide additional value to their audience.

4. Participate in Industry Events

Participating in industry events is another great way to establish thought leadership. Industry events can include conferences, trade shows, and networking events. By participating in industry events, you can connect with other thought leaders and showcase your expertise to a wider audience.

One company that has done an excellent job of participating in industry events is Salesforce. Salesforce is a customer relationship management software company that is known for its industry events, such as Dreamforce. These events bring together thousands of industry professionals and provide valuable insights and information. Salesforce also leverages these events to showcase their expertise and provide value to their audience.

5. Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Providing exceptional customer service is another key element of establishing thought leadership. By providing exceptional customer service, you can build trust with your audience and establish your company as a leader in your industry. Exceptional customer service can include prompt responses to inquiries, personalized experiences, and going above and beyond to solve customer problems.

One company that has established themselves as thought leaders through exceptional customer service is Zappos. Zappos is an online shoe and clothing retailer that is known for its exceptional customer service. Zappos has a dedicated customer service team that goes above and beyond to provide personalized experiences and solve customer problems. By providing exceptional customer service, Zappos has built a loyal following and established themselves as thought leaders in the online retail industry.

6. Foster a Culture of Learning

Fostering a culture of learning is crucial for establishing thought leadership. By encouraging employees to continually learn and grow, you can stay up to date with industry trends and provide valuable insights and information to your audience. This can include providing training and development opportunities, encouraging employees to attend industry events, and fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation.

One company that has established themselves as thought leaders through a culture of learning is Google. Google is known for its innovative culture and commitment to employee learning and development. Google offers a range of training and development programs, including its famous Google University. By fostering a culture of learning, Google has been able to stay at the forefront of the tech industry and provide valuable insights and information to its audience.

7. Collaborate with Other Thought Leaders

Collaborating with other thought leaders in your industry can be a great way to establish thought leadership. By collaborating with other thought leaders, you can leverage their expertise and provide additional value to your audience. This can include co-authoring blog posts or whitepapers, participating in joint webinars, or speaking at industry events together.

One company that has established themselves as thought leaders through collaboration is Adobe. Adobe is a software company that is known for its creative tools, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Adobe has collaborated with a range of thought leaders, including photographers and designers, to provide valuable insights and information to its audience. Adobe also hosts events, such as the Adobe Creative Meetup, where thought leaders come together to collaborate and share insights.

8. Monitor and Measure Your Results

Finally, it is crucial to monitor and measure your results when establishing thought leadership. By monitoring your results, you can track your progress and adjust your strategies as needed. This can include tracking website traffic, engagement on social media, and the success of your content marketing efforts.

One tool that can be helpful for monitoring and measuring your results is Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides valuable insights into website traffic and user behavior, which can help you identify areas for improvement and optimize your strategies for establishing thought leadership.

Establishing thought leadership in your industry can be a powerful way to build credibility and trust with your audience. By following these best practices and consistently providing value to your audience, you can position your company as a leader in your industry. Remember to identify your niche, create high-quality content, leverage social media, participate in industry events, provide exceptional customer service, foster a culture of learning, collaborate with other thought leaders, and monitor and measure your results. By doing so, you can establish thought leadership and take your business to the next level.

PERSON or company

Both the company brand and individuals at the company can be valuable sources of content when establishing thought leadership. 

Content from the company brand can help to establish the company's expertise and authority in a particular area, and can provide valuable insights and information to a wider audience. This can include blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and webinars, all of which can help to position the company as a leader in its industry. By consistently producing high-quality content, the company can establish a reputation for thought leadership and build trust with its audience.

On the other hand, content from individuals at the company, such as executives, subject matter experts, and thought leaders, can provide a more personal and relatable perspective on industry trends and issues. By showcasing the expertise and insights of individuals within the company, the company can establish a human connection with its audience and build relationships based on trust and credibility. This can include thought leadership pieces, guest blog posts, and interviews, all of which can help to establish individuals within the company as thought leaders in their own right.

Ultimately, the best approach will depend on the company's goals, resources, and target audience. A combination of content from the company brand and individuals at the company may be the most effective strategy, as it can provide a balance between establishing the company's expertise and building personal connections with its audience. The key is to consistently produce high-quality content that provides value to the audience, regardless of the source.

Best Practices

1. Be Interesting:  It's Okay to be a Bit Edgy

When it comes to creating thought leadership content, it's important to remember that it's okay to be a bit edgy. This means taking a bold stance on industry issues and sharing your unique perspective, even if it goes against the conventional wisdom. By being edgy, you can differentiate yourself from others in your industry and capture the attention of your audience.

One example of a company that takes an edgy approach to thought leadership content is Dollar Shave Club. Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based razor company that is known for its irreverent and humorous marketing campaigns. Their blog, "The Bathroom Minutes," takes a similar approach, providing humorous and irreverent commentary on a variety of topics related to men's grooming and beyond. By taking an edgy approach, Dollar Shave Club has established themselves as a leader in their industry and built a loyal following.

2. Don't be Afraid to Talk About Issues That Aren't Directly Related to the Product or Service You are "Selling"

Another best practice for creating thought leadership content is to not be afraid to talk about issues that aren't directly related to the product or service you are "selling." By taking a broader view of industry issues and sharing your insights on a wide range of topics, you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build credibility with your audience.

One example of a company that takes this approach is Patagonia. Patagonia is an outdoor clothing and gear company that is known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental activism. While their products are designed for outdoor enthusiasts, their content goes beyond that, focusing on issues such as climate change, corporate responsibility, and social justice. By taking a broader view of industry issues, Patagonia has established themselves as thought leaders and built a loyal following of customers who share their values.

3. Make Sure You Have a Good Cadence or Frequency to the Amount of Content You Publish

Consistency is key when it comes to creating thought leadership content. It's important to have a good cadence or frequency to the amount of content you publish, so that your audience knows when to expect new content and can rely on you for insights and information.

One example of a company that has a good cadence to their thought leadership content is HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing and sales software company that is known for its inbound marketing expertise. They publish a wide range of content, including blog posts, e-books, and webinars, on a consistent basis. Their blog, for example, publishes new posts multiple times per week, providing their audience with a steady stream of valuable insights and information.

4. Write One Piece of Content and Distribute Across Multiple Marketing Mediums

Another best practice for creating thought leadership content is to write one piece of content and distribute it across multiple marketing mediums. By repurposing content for different mediums, you can reach a wider audience and maximize the impact of your thought leadership efforts.

One example of a company that does this well is Moz. Moz is an SEO software company that provides a wide range of SEO tools and resources. They publish a variety of content, including blog posts, whitepapers, and webinars, that are repurposed across different marketing mediums. For example, a blog post might be turned into a webinar, which is then turned into a whitepaper, providing their audience with multiple opportunities to engage with the content.

In conclusion, creating thought leadership content requires a strategic approach that includes being a bit edgy, talking about issues that aren't directly related to your product or service, having a good cadence to the amount of content you publish, and repurposing content across different marketing mediums. By following these best practices, you can establish yourself as a thought leader.

Ready to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry? Contact Mahdlo Executive Advisors to learn how we can help you build your personal brand and position your company as a leader in your industry.