How can I become a thought leader? A step-by-step guide to get from A to B

Thought leadership is a long journey. But one worth embarking upon.


Are you interested in becoming a thought leader?

What does it take to become one? And why might you want to? Follow this guide to get started on the journey.

1. Decide what information you wish to share

Thought leadership marketing is all about sharing original insights with your target audience.

Unlike content marketing, thought leadership is often a peer to peer marketing exercise.

This means that — ideally — you’ll want to be sharing quality insights that your target market doesn’t already know. That’s the “leadership” part of the phrase.

Do you have original insights to share from market research that you’ve commissioned? A unique perspective on developments in your industry? These could be worth packaging as thought leadership.

Many organizations that commit to thought leadership plan out protracted campaigns stretching across multiple business quarters and there is evidence to suggest that organizations that commit to thought leadership over the long term are more satisfied with their efforts (a culture of supporting thought leadership develops).

These can be great complements to your content marketing efforts. Just make sure, if you’re taking this approach, that you have enough genuine thought leadership material to last the course.

2. Decide who you want to share it with

Ultimately, most thought leadership is undertaken for strategic purposes.

While sharing your know-how with the world is a nice idea in concept, most prospective thought leaders will want to realize some return on investment (ROI) from the effort involved. Thought leadership isn’t typically undertaken for philanthropic motives. Instead, this ROI might take the form of:

  • Getting on the radar of key pathfinders in your industry
  • Boosting your brand awareness to facilitate your launch in a new market or sales territory
  • Creating collateral that can support your sales team by providing the background information about your organization or leadership that potential partners will likely be interested in

Knowing what you want to achieve through thought leadership will help you clarify who you wish to target through the campaigns.

Come up with a cogent idea of the person you wish the thought leadership to reach.

If it’s not a real person — or group of people — sketch up a buyer persona that can serve as a close surrogate. Make sure that the tone of voice (ToV) and content of what you’re drafting is likely to resonate with this audience.

3. Formats: decide where you want to say it

In order to build one’s reputation towards becoming a thought leader, one can:

  • Write articles that appear in trade media publications
  • Offer keynote speeches at key industry events
  • Start a podcast and share insights there
  • Create and distribute an e-newsletter

Which of these will serve your needs best depends upon:

  • The preferred media of the prospective thought leader. Are you a great public speaker? The event circuit might be the obvious place to start. Do you love writing? Consider developing your thought leadership through creating written content.

True thought leaders are recognized by their peers as such rather than self-proclaimed. The journey towards becoming a true thought leader is a long one. To make that journey as quickly as possible, make sure that your thought leadership is backed by a well-crafted strategy. Making sure that you’re clear about what you have to say, who you’re trying to reach, and what channels you wish to say it in will get you on your way towards success.

DSR Ghostwriting is a writing service and marketing consultancy specializing in working with technology clients to help plan and execute thought leadership marketing campaigns.




All About Thought Leadership contains insights about using thought leadership as part of your inbound marketing strategy

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.

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