To understand why thought leaderships matters, we should first try and agree on what exactly it is. Simply put, a thought leader can be described as a person or organization whose authority in a certain industry is generally well-known within that industry. This person or organization may be looked at as a go-to for questions within that industry, even if they don’t directly relate to a product or service.

Broken down even more simply, it means that customers and clients come to thought leaders not only for products or services, but for inspiration, ideas, and answers, as well. We’ve all come across thought leaders in our favorite TED talks, social platforms, and industry conferences.

Thought leaders can be valuable resources for driving the growth of their own organizations and helping to facilitate community-building within their fields. Thought leadership doesn’t have to come from the CEO or other execs, either. The power of a thought leader is in their expertise, which means that entire brands can elevate themselves to the status of thought leaders.

Businesses, agencies, and organizations can elevate themselves to the status of thought leader through educational webinars run by experts on the team or through eBooks written by subject matter experts within the organization. The goal of a thought leader is to be a resource with answers to the questions your target audience finds most important.

Benefits of Thought Leadership

Too many businesses are fundamentally replaceable with another of their kind. Thought leaders, on the other hand, are not as easily replaceable. It’s difficult to ignore a company that is always at the forefront of industry trends. Agencies and SMBs who lean into thought leadership can gain much more than notoriety.

1.   Building Credibility and Trust

Thought leaders can influence their audiences by positioning themselves as experts in the field when sharing helpful, innovative, and relevant material. The key here is that educational and helpful content is free. The goal is to help educate and empower their audiences by pointing them to solutions to common pain points.

This builds both credibility and trust as potential customers start to rely on your business as a resource. If they trust your brand, they will be more likely to purchase and recommend it to others.

2.   Customer Retention

Agencies that can evolve to the level of thought leaders will have a higher success rate in retaining customers. Building that trust means that your company now offers more than just a service or product. It also offers industry insights, trending ideas, and so many more hard-to-find resources. This creates an enormous value-add for potential customers but also creates a hard comparison between you and competitors. Can they stand up against what you offer in expertise?

3.   Social Strategy

Because sharing ideas requires creating content, social media marketing plays a huge role in getting that content out in front of the right audience and building a relationship with them. All the additional, valuable content will help to superpower the social strategy. Now followers will be getting posts really relevant to their needs!

A thought leader can be like a teacher or a guide, so it’s only natural that a community will build around that on social media. The best way to keep an engaged community is to engage with them! Using a social media strategy that allows for automating some social content to dedicate more time to community building is a good growth plan.

4.   Marketing Strategy

Amplyfying your authority in the industry can also amplify your organic reach in all areas of marketing. Trusted resources are usually sought-after, rather than seeking out clients through additional advertising. If you’re already using an inbound marketing strategy, then incorporating thought leadership should be easy to do and it would create a more robust content plan.

By offering your target audiences information they are looking for, they’ll be drawn to you. You’ll quickly see which types of content your audiences respond to better. Don’t forget to boost your top performing organic content!

5.   Take Back Control Over Your Own Story

In the case that your industry or company are surrounded by misinformation, becoming an educator in the space gives you the opportunity to take back control of the story. Small businesses in regulated industries could make a big splash by leading the charge in education, especially when it comes to public opinion or an innovative product. Agencies working within niche industries can crowdsource data to create case studies that help their clients make strategic decisions.

6.   Be(come) Memorable

Thought leadership not only creates content opportunities, it creates PR opportunities that can extend to every level of the company as well. Every industry has their niches, and if you want to show off the fact that your agency hires the best of the best, let them shine at conferences and in webinars for those niches.

Leveraging other perspectives and encouraging additional members of the organization at all levels to participate in lending their expertise in the field creates more possible PR moments, more brand presence, and more meaningful customer interactions.

7.   Stay Ahead of the Competition

When business needs are calling it becomes difficult to keep up with industry news, let alone trends. Luckily, focusing on thought leaderships solves that problem. By default, to be viewed as an authority thought leaders need to pay attention to what’s happening in the industry. You’ll have a built-in trend watch!

Thought leaders also tend to connect more directly with consumers, especially those with active social media followings. These leaders are regularly listening to current and potential customers. Companies that can spot trends by listening to customer needs can innovate and grow faster.

Key Takeaways on Thought Leadership

In a world of information overload, it can be difficult to stand out from the competition. By focusing on providing value instead, agencies and SMBs can position themselves as a resource. Even if that lead doesn’t sign today, they’ll remember your name when the time comes.

By embracing thought leadership, companies can:

  • Add robust, helpful content that acts as a lead magnet
  • Create dedicated communities
  • Increase organic reach and PR opportunities
  • Stay ahead of industry trends and the competition

Of course, adding another marketing strategy can’t be added to the workload if other things aren’t offloaded. Find out how welcoming marketing automation into your tech stack can give you back the time you need to create thoughtful, valuable content that draws customers to you.

Lisa Rios