Being knowledgeable in your field is very different from being a thought leader in your industry. Along with the vast amount of knowledge you may have on a specific topic, you must also have the ability to market yourself to your appropriate audience.
What is a Thought Leader?
Thought leaders have the ability to solve a problem we can’t solve or maybe that we didn’t even know we had. They are out-of-the-box thinkers and can simply explain complicated topics.
There are many knowledgeable people in the world that specialize in specific topics. We would consider these individuals experts. The difference between just being a knowledgeable person on a specific subject and being a thought leader in the industry is marketing yourself appropriately.
Why is it Necessary to Become a Thought Leader?
When making a large financial decision, your clients want peace of mind that they are choosing the best partner. During the buying decision, the most valuable factor to a buyer is a specialist's skills and expertise. Once the industry understands your wealth of knowledge, you could grow your practice in several different ways.
- Gain more prospects - Thought leadership is proven to be the most enticing factor when considering referrals.
- Shorten deal timeframe - More time can be allocated to other projects as less time and effort will be needed to push those stubborn deals across the finish line when clients are confident they are working with the best.
- Charge more for your service - People are willing to spend just about anything to get the top of the line partners.
Simply being a generalist in your field is obviously fine, but experts or specialists are sought out to work with. People want to be confident they are working with the best in the business.
How to Become a Thought Leader
The first step in becoming a thought leader is to first and foremost, understand your niche and your position in the current market. What are you an expert in and how are you perceived by the market?
Keep in mind that the narrower and the newer your specialty is, the faster you will accelerate in the market. For example, if you are a mechanic but specialize in eco-friendly, brand name engines, promote yourself as a Tesla Environmental Engineer. You want to be the best at one or a few topics, not fairly knowledgeable in many subjects.
Secondly, understand your niche market. Being able to understand what your audience needs before they do, is a difficult skill to master. Instead of asking what keeps your clients up at night, you should be telling your clients what keeps them up at night. You need your clients to understand the quality of what you do for them.
Also remember that you can position yourself in the market in very different ways.
- Be the first to talk about or focus on a specific subject.
- Oppose a common thought and take a different perspective on a matter.
- Bring two unlikely topics together
- Focus on a very specific topic that hasn’t yet been diluted with other thought leaders.
- Aligning yourself with your audience’s understanding of a topic, not necessarily the way you see a topic.
The love of your craft can be infectious. Spread that love through different outlets including, outbound marketing, inbound marketing, digital, website, and offline outreach. Develop a plan to get your name out there where your skill sets overlap with the target audience's habits.
Build trust and credibility through outbound marketing tactics. Speak at a conference, send out newsletters, prospect in relevant directories or on LinkedIn, attend events or trade shows, and advertise. Creating content to emphasize your knowledge on a topic and pushing it out to the world is how you gain trust and credibility with your audience.
These efforts can go hand in hand with inbound marketing tactics as well, such as, SEO, creating webinars, blogging, videos, guest interviews and case studies, articles, and downloadable content on your website. Making sure to balance your efforts online and offline is important as well.
The process of becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. This process can take many years and countless hours producing valuable content to your audience. This is an ever-changing, ongoing process. Dedicate yourself to learning and growing your knowledge on this topics and similar topics every day. There is always something else to be learned. And stick to your plan to push your name out into the market.
- Create downloadable materials for your clients.
- Use eye catching, emotional titles for your content. This is your message to the world, make it impactful.
- Nurture key relationships by keep your brand in front of them via different channels.
- Repurpose content. Turn a guide into a webinar, speaking engagement, infographic, blog, guest article, audio and video aides ext. People absorb information in different ways. Utilize different platforms to get the same message out in different ways. No need to recreate the wheel sometimes.
- Share your experience and stories. People like to work with people they relate to.