4 Steps Entrepreneurs Can Take Today to Start Building Thought Leadership

If you want to make sales, attract top talent, and form valuable partnerships, you need to plan and execute a consistent thought leadership strategy.

August 29th, 2018   |    By: John Hall    |    Tags: Branding, Thought Leadership, Customer Acquisition

Entrepreneurs know the truth of the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The right relationship can make the difference between a struggling startup and an overnight success.

But there are a lot of people in the world, and most of them don’t know who you are. You can’t sit back and wait for your audience to find you. To help your company succeed, you need to make the first move.

Savvy founders know that thought leadership is the first step to earning trust among a specific audience. And the trust you earn through a thought leadership strategy can help you build valuable partnerships, attract amazing talent, secure funding, earn press, increase sales, and more.

Grow Your Business Through Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership is one of the most versatile, effective brand-building strategies of the modern era. Today’s consumers want to know the companies behind the products and services they buy and the leaders behind the companies. Content is key to telling those stories.

Customers are just one audience, though. Startups are locked in a battle for top talent, and the companies with the best content attract the brightest candidates. Why? Because content shines a light on your team’s culture and approach to your industry — things that differentiate you from others and attract people who share your passion and vision. The same is true for funding and professional partnerships.

When your audiences see that you know your stuff, they’re more likely to work with you. Your job as a leader, then, is to demonstrate that you’re an expert. Thought leadership through content marketing can help.

No matter what your specific thought leadership goals are, the right content has the power to achieve them. When you’re ready to take your thought leadership strategy live, follow these four steps to make it happen:

1. Document your plan and map out how each piece of it will work for your goal.

One of the first mistakes would-be thought leaders make is creating content piece by piece and not thinking through how the various elements work together.

What kind of content do you need to attract new audience members to your brand? How are you going to engage them after that first interaction? Do you have a way of staying top of mind with them over time so you’re the first person they think of when they think of your industry?

Once you’ve taken the time to map out how your content will actually work to reach and engage your audience, document your ideas. After all, a strategy isn’t really a strategy until you write it down.

Break your plan into actionable chunks, including an idea of what types of content you’ll need, who will help you create the content, what topics it will cover, and where it will be published. This will help keep you (and anyone who helps you with your content) accountable to your goals.

2. Develop a backlog of ideas by banking your knowledge.

Work backlogs are stressful. Thought leadership backlogs, however, relieve stress by giving you and your team a bank of ideas that you can use to make content creation simple.

A knowledge bank — which, as the name suggests, is a bank of your knowledge — can help you collect important information to fuel your content. Fill it with details about your industry, experiences and insights, relevant industry research, common audience questions and pain points, and other information that sparks ideas for content.

With a backlog of ideas like this, you’ll have a wealth of inspiration for thought leadership content that you can use to quickly and easily create multiple assets that you know will resonate with your audience

3. Commit to consistency.

Once you start engaging your audiences, maintain a consistent flow of information to keep them engaged. You might not feel inspired to write new content every week, but that’s what your backlog is for: to make consistent content creation possible.

I recommend setting a goal of writing two new pieces of content every month so you can get the hang of putting your ideas onto paper (or its digital equivalent). As you establish your voice, your audience will want to hear from you more often. Don’t commit to more than you can handle, but do prioritize content creation to retain your audience’s interest and trust.

Worried about keeping up the pace? Tap other experts within your organization to help you keep your knowledge bank full. You don’t have to be the founder to publish great insights, and if you’ve got good team members surrounding you, they’ll be able to lend their expertise to your content, too.

4. Plan for distribution.

Your content might be great, but if no one sees it, all your efforts will go to waste. Follow a distribution strategy to get your content in front of the right eyes and accomplish the goals you set in the first step.

For example, when it comes to reaching a new audience, you might rely on creating guest posts for publications you know that audience reads and maybe use Google Ads or promoted social posts to help you get in front of new people. To continue engaging your audience, you could use email marketing and social media as methods for distributing your content.

No matter what kind of content you’ve created or what point you’re at in your relationship with your audience members, you’ve got to have a way to deliver your message.

Thought leadership generates consumer interest, attracts top talent, and encourages potential business partners to give your company a shot. With so many reasons to get started and such a low barrier to entry, now is the perfect time for founders to share their expertise by creating content to build their thought leadership.

About the Author

John Hall

John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of "Top of Mind". You can book John to speak here.

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