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