Nowadays, everyone is talking about thought leadership. It is often presented as a marketing campaign or a status that can be achieved in a few simple steps.
Do any of these headlines sound familiar? ‘5 Steps to Become a Thought Leader’ or perhaps ‘How to Position Yourself as an Expert’. Ironically, these articles about thought leadership often fail to contain the core principle of thought leadership: teaching value. Instead, they share cool tools, tricks, and tasks to try, but you are left with no answer to the most important questions: Why should I be a thought leader? And what’s in it for me?
After all, like you, potential customers have limited resources and must prioritize what to try or buy. A thought leader will provide the information needed to make those prioritization decisions.
What Is a Thought Leader?
A true thought leader is not feature-focused or even customer-focused. A thought leader does not sell or market to customers. Instead, a thought leader is value-focused. A thought leader acts as a teacher who offers others thorough, unbiased information on the value provided by various solutions to market problems.
A focus on value is more than a marketing strategy—it must be a fundamental component of a brand’s culture. Value starts with the brand’s mission, inspires product development, drives marketing messages, and shapes sales strategies.
If your brand’s product—whether it be software, physical goods, or consulting services—is a valuable solution to a legitimate market problem, positioning your brand as a thought leader through sales and marketing efforts will be a piece of cake.
Benefits of Thought Leadership and Influence
So, what’s in it for you? A true thought leader approach to product development, marketing messaging, and sales techniques will increase sales and grow your business by:
Building credibility in market.
By demonstrating a deep understanding of the market and the challenges customers face, potential customers will begin to look to your brand to provide solutions to their current and future problems. Hook them in and then convert them to customers.
Developing a solution that solves a real problem, and then teaching prospective customers how your solution will improve their lives in some way, will result in easier conversions of prospects to customers. Ensure that the prospect “gets it” and no hard sell is required.
Improving your brand.
Products that are value-focused evolve as market problems and customer needs change. If your brand is truly value-focused, you will consistently gather market and customer feedback to continue to improve your brand and increase your success in the marketplace.
Now that you know how establishing your brand as a thought leader can increase sales and grow your business, how will you incorporate this into your brand’s overall growth strategy?
This article has been edited and condensed.
Jen Benz is the co-founder of Zanifesto, an easy to use, web-based infographic builder that empowers budget savvy entrepreneurs to create high quality infographics, media kits, and other marketing materials. Connect with @zanifesto on Twitter.