Thought leadership is often discussed as a marketing goal but remains relatively abstract if you don’t employ specific tactics and strategies. For example, if you want to build brand authority and reputation, nurture and convert leads, and drive traffic to your site, you’ll want to show your audience that you are an expert in your field.
Let’s look at fifteen tactics you can use to brand yourself as an authoritative voice in your field.
The first rule of marketing is knowing your audience like the back of your hand. If you want to brand yourself or your company as a thought leader in a particular industry, you will need to have detailed, on-point buyer personas.
Understanding your audience isn’t just about knowing that your primary demographic is in a certain age range and lives in a certain part of the world. You want to really know what makes them tick.
What questions are keeping them up at night? What are their pain points? What do they care about?
If you don’t feel like you have a solid grasp on who your audience is, consider conducting customer interviews or taking a deep dive into what people are saying on social media.
Once you understand your audience’s questions, you can start creating thought leadership content that answers them.
It’s also important not to get too comfortable with your sense of who your audience is. People change over time, as does the culture, so it’s important to stay tuned in and periodically reevaluate your buyer personas.
Many people think that being a thought leader means writing and maintaining a blog, but to be successful, you’ll want to publish a wide variety of content on a number of different platforms.
Having a blog is a good start, but you’ll also want to have active social media pages, write guest posts on other people’s blogs, and sign on to podcast interviews or speak at events.
Though it can be tempting to keep all of your content on your own sites, you’ll find that producing content for other people’s websites, podcasts, and more can help spread the word about your brand. Wherever your audience is, you’ll want to be.
If you want to be successful as a thought leader in your industry, creating highly valuable content for your audience is essential. Rather than producing content similar to dozens of other articles and videos on the internet, you’ll want to take deep dives and offer unique opinions that show that you are an expert in your field.
At the same time, you want to be able to speak to your audience in a way that everyone can understand. If you get too technical, you’ll be narrowing your readership in a way that isn’t beneficial. If you’re too vague and general, you’ll likely find that the really big players in your field receive most of the traffic about major industry topics.
When you first built your brand, you looked closely at the competition to see what they were doing right and what they were missing. Likewise, if you want to brand yourself as a thought leader, you’ll want to take a look at the thought leadership content your competitors are making.
First, you should analyze their thought leadership strategy. Where are they posting their content? What type of content are they posting? How often?
There’s nothing wrong with borrowing successful strategies from other businesses in your industry. At the same time, you’ll want to carefully look at gaps in the content they are producing and figure out where you can come in to serve an unserved need of your customers.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for marketing, and it’s no different when branding yourself as a thought leader. It gives you a venue to engage actively with your community and offers a platform where you can ensure that your brand voice is always present when relevant industry conversations are occurring.
On top of that, social media is a great place to promote the content you create in a way that doesn’t come off as overly promotional.
Speaking of being overly promotional, it’s important to understand that audiences don’t like feeling like they are being targeted by ads. If you want to avoid alienating your audience and customers, creating authentic, genuine, and useful content is important.
When you’re creating content, it’s easy to think about what action you want the audience to take. If you’re thinking too much about getting them to sign up for your newsletter, buy your product, or download your book, it will likely be obvious to your audience that you want more from them than you are willing to give. Keep your focus on serving the needs of your readers and answering their questions, and you’ll be much more likely to build a loyal base of fans.
It’s important to have a defined strategy before you jump into trying to be a thought leader.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is set SMART goals, with SMART standing for:
This is an opportunity to outline what you want to get out of becoming a thought leader. For example, do you want to boost lead generation or increase traffic to your site? Having clear goals will help you create a strategy that is effective and efficient.
Depending on the goals you set for yourself using the SMART method used above, you can decide which metrics are most useful to you in tracking your results.
There are so many useful analytical tools out there you can use to determine whether your thought leadership content has been effective or whether you need to step back and shift gears.
When a lot of people start thinking about branding themselves as thought leaders, the first thing that comes to their mind is a blog. Don’t get us wrong, a blog is an important part of your thought leadership strategy, but it’s important not to let your blog overshadow another essential tool: your newsletter.
When you create an opt-in mailing list for your brand, it makes it possible for you to stay in touch with your audience effectively. When you are positioning yourself as a thought leader, you want to stay in direct regular contact with the people most interested in hearing what you have to say.
If you simply have a blog and aren’t creating content anywhere else, you are essentially creating awesome content in a vacuum. Sure, you can use SEO tactics to help drive traffic to your blog through search results, but if you want to build a large audience, you’ll want to create content beyond the boundaries of your own site.
You can do this in a number of ways. Firstly, you can write content for sites like Quora, LinkedIn, or Medium. Medium and LinkedIn are more suitable for business-related posts, while Quora and Medium are typically better for writing on technical subjects.
Secondly, you can guest blog on other people’s sites. Writing guest blog posts allows you to get in front of an audience that already exists and show them your expertise and knowledge in your specific field.
If you want people to see you as a thought leader, you’re going to need to tell them who you are and why you are an expert in your field. When you create content on other sites like Quora, LinkedIn, Medium, and other people’s blogs, the ultimate goal is to capture the attention of readers so that they will be redirected to your landing page.
In your bio, find a natural way to direct people back to your site so they can sign up for your newsletter. You can also mention your social media accounts and any products you’re currently marketing. You can even use this as an opportunity to offer a free opt-in incentive to make it easier for people to take the leap.
When you are beginning the journey of being a thought leader, the ultimate goal is to build strong relationships with your audience. This is the only real way to transform readers into loyal fans that keep coming back to your site to see what you have to say.
You are missing the mark if you are only using your mailing lists and social media pages for self-promotion. You’ll find that people are quick to unfollow you when the only content you post or send is trying to sell something or redirect people to your blog posts and videos.
People will see you as a thought leader when you prove that you have valuable insight and that you’re being honest and genuine. When you write your email newsletter, picture yourself writing to a close friend rather than to an audience of people you want to sell something to. If you feel stuck, take a look at the newsletters you’ve signed up for (and which ones you’ve quickly unsubscribed from) to help understand the psychology of what is appealing to people and what pushes them away.
While it’s important to create genuine, valuable content for your audience, it’s also essential to optimize that content so that your posts pop up when people enter relevant search terms.
This means that every blog post you create should include things like:
It’s also important to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices. More and more people are using their smartphones to surf the web and find answers to their questions, and having a site that doesn’t load quickly and elegantly is a surefire way to have people bounce off your site and head elsewhere.
Check out this recent post to audit your existing on-page SEO.
If you want to be successful as a thought leader in your industry, you’ll want to work on building links that bring people to your website from other sites.
This is a powerful SEO tool because backlinks tell search engines that your site is essentially endorsed by other websites. When someone creates an external link to your site, it means that they see your content as valuable and insightful.
The world of SEO is always changing, and many companies have been adopting new best practices when it comes to their content strategy. One such shift that has been occurring is toward a topic cluster model.
This is a model with a main hub for content about an umbrella topic. This page is referred to as a “pillar” page.
There are then a number of different, more specific content pages that link back to the pillar page. This helps search engines understand that the pillar page is filled with authoritative content on the overarching topic.
This model is also nice because it allows you to organize your site’s content in a more deliberate and cleaner way. It can help simplify things for your audience because the map of the site is easier to understand.
Using a topic cluster model gives you a venue to create content on a topic that both gives an overview and dives deep into the subject.
If you want to become a thought leader in your field, SEO strategies will help people find your valuable content. If you want to improve your search engine rankings, creating unique and authentic content will help you create a base of loyal readers and inspire other sites to link to your content as a resource.
Becoming a thought leader isn’t something that happens overnight, but with hard work, dedication, and a genuine focus on the needs of your audience, you’ll find that your brand will become an authority in your field.
Are you looking for the right team to help you employ SEO strategies and brand yourself as a thought leader? Contact Blue Pig Media today and tell us about your business goals.