February 23

Using thought leadership tactics for lead generation

Content Marketing


As marketers look for ways to optimize lead generation, they are recognizing the value of using educational content and thought leadership to help attract more customers.

I've written a number of times on using educational marketing and certain aspects of thought leadership to generate leads, and I thought this post by Dana VanDen Heuvel over at the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog was useful reminder.

So what is a thought leader?

First of all, thought leaders don't really refer to themselves as thought leaders. Thought leadership is an outside assessment based on what others say about you NOT what you say about you.

A thought leader is a recognized authority in one’s field. Elise Bauer wrote an article on thought leadership that I referenced in my book that's still relevant today, and it gives some good tips.

Bauer writes, “What differentiates a thought leader from any other knowledgeable company [or individual] is the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.”  She continues, “Trust is built on reputation and reputation is generally NOT built on advertising or looking smart.” 

I agree.  People have a natural "BS" meter. We can sense when someone is just trying to sound smart rather than be authentic. Most of us can recognize a charlatan, one who pontificates about their expertise only to pitch us. These so-called thought leaders are only just trying to edify themselves.

Thought leadership is not just about what you say or write. It is a way of being. Thought leaders genuinely influence others by creating, advancing and sharing ideas. And there are just a select few thought leaders in every industry and field of study. Their objective is to genuinely help others. In business, thought leaders revolutionize the way others (both inside and outside their companies) do business. That's true thought leadership. 

Bauer concludes, “Become a thought leader in your field and it won’t matter as much how big you are. Companies and people will look to you for insight and vision. Journalists will quote you, analysts will call you, and websites will link to you.”

If you're looking to develop more educational content or leverage thought leadership check out the following posts to get you started:

On giving away ideas
How to Become a Thought Leader and Attract Customers
Leverage Thought Leadership to Win More Sales (with Nurturing)
Using thought leader content as a lead generation tool
Content ideas for lead nurturing and tactics to use

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. I really like this approach to marketing for any business, it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. As mentioned the key to success is to not pitching yourself as a ‘Thought Leader’ but simply to educate the masses in your given field.

    We are a telemarketing consultancy and there is a lot of bad press and opinion towards this marketing channel despite it being tried and tested. We take the approach that even though we all get bad cold calls the opposite end of the spectrum is quality over quanitiy and when done well it can lead to great results.

    I think that most marketers like to be able to learn from piers and respected authorities from any given field. However if this is just an attempt to sell their own products or services then they will fall flat on their face and have the opposite affect. If you can get yourself out talking at events and the right type of networking events then this can really help build your brand and more importantly help with referrals and word of mouth business! As David Locke says above this approach also needs to be reflected in all your marketing campaigns both on and offline.

    Alastair Digby


  2. One day a long time ago, I tried to do something in MS Word for DOS, yeah that long ago. The manual said call technical support, so I did. They turned me into an expert with some outlier functionality a long way down the long tail of the interface. They demonstrated how expertise development could cement the relationship between the vendor and the user. In effect, they had designed a post-sale enactment chain to sell the next upgrade. Yes, users buy the next upgrade. The economic buyer has moved on.

    Then, you had Seth Godin write about curriculm marketing in his “Permission Marketing” book. Curriculum to me was instructional design. Curriculm marketing was instruction in the pre-sale enactmeent chain. Then, Web Monkey actually did it. Web Monkey taught us various web technologies via a permission campaign.

    Thought leadership works across all the contemporary channels webpages, blogs, RSS, twitter, etc. Write a book, speak, lead. Content is the leading edge of the sale. Teaching and learning are the relationship. Teaching can move adoption along. Teaching can pull time to return or time to value into the present.

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