As we sat down with many of you during the latter part of 2014 to establish goals for the new year, one common theme was to establish you, key members of your team or maybe your organization as whole, as a thought leader. Defined as an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought, thought leadership is not a new concept or tactic for AOE. In fact, thought leadership is often the goal in our public relations efforts. However, with the barrage of information in today’s marketplace, thought leadership is now more important than ever as it provides you with an opportunity to emerge as the go-to resource on a particular topic. Research indicates that buyers do their homework before making contact, so it is imperative that you show up in that online search as the thought leader on the topic with which they seek counsel.
But how do you emerge as a thought leader? While the tactical plans include speaking opportunities, blog pieces and bylined articles, social media and e-campaigns, ebooks, white papers and more, Daniel W. Rasmum noted in a recent Fast Company article that “Successful thought leadership does not arrive with a published idea linked to a hope that someone will recognize brilliance and sweep your firm from obscurity into industry prominence. Establishing a firm or an individual as a thought leader requires consistent, diligent effort. Thought leadership is cumulative. Although thought leadership can and should have tactical elements that reveal the evolution of an idea from concept toward implementation, all thought leadership should be strategic at the onset. Thought leadership should be about a big idea that changes how people perceive the world.”
And while sales growth and greater brand awareness are simply responsible business goals for thought leadership, the effort must go far beyond such stated objectives. Improved sales should simply be a by-product of your effort, not the theme. Rasmum noted that “selling during a thought leadership presentation, discussion, or post is the number one sin, and therefore, not selling is the number-one rule.” To really emerge as a thought leader, you must be willing to offer a differing opinion – not simply jump on the bandwagon and what’s popular – in order to establish yourself as a leader, not merely an expert.
So, how do you get started? It is actually really simple. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. What needs to be changed in the industry you serve? You don’t have to have the answers – you just have to be willing to ask the right questions.
Since our founding in 2001, we’ve been passionate about brand journalism and fighting for relevancy and journalistic reporting in all that we do. Many of our clients can attest to the fact that we are adamant that a journalistic approach continues to rise to the top of all this marketing mayhem. Let us know your questions…your passion. We look forward to partnering with you in 2015.