‘Thought Leadership’ Demystified


Marketers, pay attention — you want this to happen.

Tell me, what have you done that’s successfully moved you from a 1.0 marketer to a 3.0 Trusted Advisor?

Thought leadership happens when brands move from talking about their product (1.0) to transitioning into solving customer problems (2.0) and then become trusted advisors (3.0).

People trust thought leaders and turn to them for advice.

When you’ve made this shift, you’ve moved your company from a commoditized buy to a consultative relationship.

Price becomes less important. Marketers, pay attention — you want this to happen.

In order to get to a 3.0-level brand, marketers need to understand the difference between sharing a unique insight at one particular moment in time — sort of the “one hit wonder” of thinking — and what it takes to create the long-term sustainability of original ideas.

Thought leadership is a common approach for companies wanting to establish credibility within their industry and stand apart from the crowd — and for good reason.

It’s true that thought leaders tend to be the most successful professionals in their fields, and because of this, have more influence over their audience.

The problem is that people throw the term “Thought Leader” around without any foundational evidence of what it truly takes to deserve the distinction.

Publishing content, in and of itself, does not make You or Your company a thought leader.

When it comes to positioning yourself (or your company) as a thought leader, you have to understand how to identify, engage, and influence those who lead the pack — the Innovators and Early Adopters — and to inspire the Early Majority to follow suit.

The Innovators are the first to adopt new ideas they feel make sense, and to move industries (society) in the direction of their vision. They’re willing to take risks and adopt new ideas, even though they may fail. They lead the bleeding edge.

Thought Leadership Equals ‘Thoughtful’ Leadership

If you don’t know where to turn or where to start, just as yourself: “If I were in my customer’s shoes, what advice would I be looking for?” This will open your eyes to the bigger questions that they have about where their industry – and business in general – is going.

Now, work forwards and backwards from where you are today and where your customers need to be tomorrow.

That’s what you do for them, you articulate a vision of what a different future could look like and then you become that trusted advisor that helps them get there.

And that, ultimately, should be the impetus of every thought leadership strategy.

Diffusion of Innovation

When it comes to accepting and adopting innovation, Professor Rogers* said that the people in every society (and I’ll extend that to industry) can be divided into five different groups, broken out as follows:

  1. Innovators – 2.5%
  2. Early Adopters – 13.5%
  3. Early Majority – 34%
  4. Late Majority – 34%
  5. Laggards – 16%

*In 1962, a professor of rural sociology named Everett Rogers wrote a book called Diffusion of Innovation that couldn’t apply more to the crazy marketing world in which we’re living today.

via: How To Create A Thought Leadership Strategy That Supports True Innovation


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