Best Practices for Developing a Thought Leadership Strategy

We have a saying around W2 Communications that “thought leaders have to have thoughts.” That means relevant thoughts that speak strategically to a need or concern experienced by many people.

In my years working in the tech industry, I’ve seen my share of those who think their product or service is so brilliant that just talking about features and capabilities will demonstrate what exceptional thought leaders they are. They may well be― but unless you’re Apple or a select handful of others, that kind of message simply doesn’t work in this market.

Sharing True Value

Building true thought leadership requires unique, compelling and outward-looking perspectives; it’s NOT about you. When undertaking a thought leadership program (ideally, including an active content marketing and social media presence), here are a few thought leadership best practices to help you hone your thinking and share value in a way that conveys your expertise without blatant self-promotion:

  • Get clear on what you need to communicate. This may seem obvious, but it’s common for people to struggle with what they actually want to say. Ask yourself ‘who cares about this topic and why? What problem do they have for which we can offer some new perspective?’
  • Think about specific personas that you want to reach; which kind of reader will support your sales or capture management team, or other important business objectives? Put yourself in that reader’s mindset. Your thought leadership content needs to resonate with him or her – that means talking about their problems, pain points and issues, not how great your solutions are. Thought leading is about introducing a unique perspective that can be truly helpful or stimulate readers’ creativity.
  • It’s ok to be a little contrarian – if you can back it up. Many, especially in the tech sector, have very strong opinions about the right way to approach a technical problem. Be confident in your facts, present your case and back it up with solid evidence. Then…
  • Don’t be afraid of some pushback – not everyone will agree with you. But if someone has taken the time to read what you wrote and respond to it, it means they’re engaged. That creates an opening. Instead of reacting defensively, consider fostering a deeper discussion – on LinkedIn, Reddit or some other platform where like-minded people congregate. That will also help build your reputation as a thought leader and influencer.
  • Finally, make sure it’s well written! Nothing will detract from your thought leadership message and image faster than poorly written copy. Be original, creative, to the point and focused on the industry problems you solve.

A winning thought leadership strategy serves as a critical component of reputation management. These programs create unique platforms for professionals to shape their image by relating to the key issues impacting their market.

You will earn credibility by delivering information that places your company’s objectives second to the goal of educating customers and prospects. Bottom line – a thought leadership strategy must be visionary. It must be provocative, and it must put the customer’s needs first.

If you need help, contact us!