What is a thought leader and why should my business be one

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Do you want to be a thought leader in your industry?

Odds are the answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes’ but what does it mean?

Thought leadership is an often-discussed topic among content marketers. While many places emphasis on its value, one may question what it means and why it is so important. This article will define thought leadership before investigating its characteristics that make it a worthwhile goal to pursue.

What is a thought leader?

Thought leadership can be difficult to define.

Thought Leadership Lab defines it as such:

Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. Over time, they create a dedicated group of friends, fans and followers to help them replicate and scale their ideas into sustainable change not just in one company but in an industry, niche or across an entire ecosystem.

What is a Thought Leader?

Let’s unpack that definition a bit as it relates to your business (and how you can assert yourself as a thought leader).

Informed opinion leaders and the go-to people

Above all, thought leaders are informed.

They are the go-to people for a subject and they demonstrate mastery of it. This isn’t just people thinking ‘they might be able to answer my question’ it’s ‘there’s no one else I’d go to when it comes to this question’.

Think about the industry your business lives in, are you a thought leader for your area of expertise? You may not be sure, or wonder how you can tell if you are one. The answer to that is tricky, ultimately it depends on the opinion of your peers, customers, and prospects. One thing you can be sure of though is that thought leadership is not a one-time achievement, it’s a constant process.

You do not become a thought leader overnight, you build up confidence in your audience over time. One of the best ways to do this with your website is to blog about topics in your industry that matter to your prospects.

The more content you have built up, the more evidence there is to your industry knowledge.

Trusted sources who move and inspire people

Thought leaders work overtime to inspire trust in their audiences.

Using the suggestion above to create content to demonstrate your industry knowledge: there is a great deal of weight in creating valuable and trustworthy content.

It’s not just about creating content regularly – it’s about creating content that inspires action. Content that is well-written, cites its sources, educates, and teaches. It used to be that 500-word blog posts were enough but as the web has evolved ‘good enough’ is no longer good enough. This takes time, and it may mean blogging less frequently, but if you can write one excellent post per month it will do more than four poorly written blog posts.

Building trust is about creating quality content.

They create a dedicated group of friends, fans and followers

Thought leaders have a following.

They have a blog list with subscriber, social fan pages with followers, and a dedicated group of fans who trust them and eagerly share their content across their networks. As you create content for your business your following will grow. This is slow at first, but momentum is a fickle thing: it can take ages to make moderate progress but once the wheel starts turning new followers will flock to your brand.

In summary

The simplest definition of thought leadership means recognition from peers and customers that understands their business. Thought leadership is about having answers to the questions your target audience possesses. As challenging as it may sound, thought leaders give up control in some respect because they remain attuned to their audience’s needs and tailor their content to match those desires.

Thought leaders are savvy and willing to adapt to changing circumstances but the question nevertheless remains why is being a thought leader so important? Thought leadership is a worthwhile goal for many reasons including those outlined here.

Why does being a thought leader matter?

Being a thought leader builds trust

As discussed above thought leadership builds trust and credibility with one’s audience.

It’s never been easier to create a website and start a business, but it’s also never been harder to stand out from the crowd. Being a thought leader is one of the best things you can do to separate yourself from your competition.

As a thought leader, you share your experience and knowledge with your audience. As a result, people turn to you for advice and guidance and start putting their trust in you over <fill in the blank>. This gradually increasing trust provides the opportunity to reach an even larger audience.

Being a thought leader enhances your marketing strategy

Thought leadership is an excellent way to enhance your marketing efforts and make a truly lasting impact. Being a thought leader is not a goal for marketing, it’s a strategy to make your marketing that much more compelling and effective.

When your status as a thought leader aligns with your ongoing marketing . campaigns combination can be crucial to generate leads and reaching goals in other areas crucial to business growth. In order to effectively blend these two goals together, make sure your content is valuable and authentic.

Being a thought leader makes your followers more succesfull

Thought leaders form a relationship with their audience. Marketing has changed, it’s less about promotion and more about service. If we marketers want to succeed we need to be adding value to our prospects, and it just so happens that providing valuable content is one of the best ways to grow as an industry thought leader.

It’s simple, by adding value (whether it be an educational resource, a free download, etc) you help your prospects grow and reach their goals. By helping your intended audience achieve substantially more than they would otherwise, thought leaders can ensure their audience returns to learn from their expertise.

Being a thought leader creates a community

Thought leaders cultivate a new environment among their employees and customers.

It’s more than just a company, it’s an ecosystem that you create for others to live in, interact, and learn from. Companies that create these ecosystems separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They create something their . customers belong to, not just a business they buy from.

Thought leadership opens new opportunities

Even though these other tips seem to suggest the possibility for new opportunities, the significance of opening new opportunities emerges when one thinks about the ramifications of thought leadership. For example, one could write a blog post that generates traffic on social media. Another business or thought leader may reach out to you for guidance and encourage you to write another blog post which allows new audience members to look at your past content and rely on your expertise for help in future endeavors.


Thought leadership is an ambitious goal but is a worthwhile pursuit. However, this goal requires perseverance and often necessitates patience in the process. With these benefits in mind, they can motivate you to become a thought leader in your industry.

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