How to become a thought leader in your industry!
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
As we transition into the holiday season, your competitors may take a vacation... but in the CBD industry, things are heating up at the federal level. Don't take your foot off of the gas. Use this time to develop and execute your thought leadership plan. It's a topic our team discussed over the summer. You can read more about it below!
You may have heard the term thought leadership. You may wonder why thought leadership is important. It's a somewhat philosophical term for demonstrating that your experience and leadership put you and your business at the forefront of your industry. That's called thought leadership marketing, and that's powerful stuff.
In today's Move the Stairs Friday chat we're showing you how to position your business or brand as a thought leader in your industry. There are a number of different ways to accomplish this goal and if you ask 10 people how they did it, you'll probably get 10 different answers.
M&C's take? Keep it simple and start your thought leadership journey with three simple steps. Take a look at everything we covered in today's Move the Stairs Friday chat!
You'll find a link to the video discussion at the bottom of this blog.
Topic 1: What is the definition of a thought leader?
A thought leader is someone who has an authoritative voice in an industry where they are considered one of, if not the primary go-to expert. These people are constantly on the precipice of the latest developments in their industry and are almost always willing to offer their opinion and insight into what’s new and happening now.
Our team each offered up one person they consider to be a thought leader in their space. Here's who came first to mind below:
Jordan: Jim Cramer, of course! "Welcome to Cramerica?" Jim hosts two shows on CNBC, one in the morning and one during the evening. In addition to having his TV personality, Jim has his website which offers stock market advice to his clients. He publishes articles daily about what's happening with the stock market and economy and he's always on Twitter. He's among one of the most well respected economic analysts and uses his platform to educate and advocate good, healthy business practice. He is Jordan's go-to guy for portfolio advice.
Sarah: Her example is well known in the public relations community: measurement expert Jesper Anderson. She met him at a measurement conference in 2019 and learned so much about the cutting edge of measuring ROI on public relations- a hot topic that’s so important for making sure that clients see, understand and feel good about the value they’re getting with public relations. Since she met him at that conference, she's connected with Jesper on Twitter and LinkedIn, and chatted with him several times to get advice or just run an idea by him. That’s what’s so important about being a thought leader: Jesper is her go-to person for thought leadership on measurement because she can actually reach him, talk to him, and engage with him on various platforms.
Diane: When she thinks of thought leadership I think of two women she follows closely, Wana Brands CEO, Nancy Whiteman and Joy Smith CEO of Joy Organics. Both of these women are trailblazers in the cannabis industry. What she likes most is that they are as interested in educating the public about cannabis and CBD as they are about promoting their brands. The health and wellness information they provide is timely. They respond to the news of the day with information that will help their clients and followers. They aren’t afraid to take a stand on controversial issues. And they and their teams are consistent in delivering their thoughts, information and inspiration. Those 3 attributes really make them stand out in their field.
Topic 1: How to use multiple platforms to spread the word!
The first thing you need to do is look at the number of different platforms (i.e. opportunities) there are to share your voice and NOT get overwhelmed. The idea here is to find the best platform and practices for you to make your voice heard, not toss out hastily written content on every platform hoping to build an audience.
The first place you should start is your website. Owned media is quickly catching up to earned media in importance. Your website MUST look good and be user friendly if you're to be taken seriously. At M&C Communications, we work diligently to ensure our website looks good, is user friendly and meets the SEO criteria to keep our company ranking when it comes to online searches. You may want to hire a professional to do that if SEO isn't your area of expertise.
The next areas you may want to look at will be your social media platforms. According to this article by Statista.com, Facebook continues to lead the charge in the most active users and it's not even close. This is more than likely where your consumer base will spend some of their time, however, is Facebook the correct audience for thought leadership? The answer is yes, but not for the reason you'd think. Part of your digital credibility is building a relationship with your customer base. Having a constant cadence on Facebook, engaging with consumers and helping to solve their problems will go a long way in not only building customer loyalty but will show visitors to your page that your strategies are sound.
How About Twitter? This is where a lot of industry experts will hang out. If they are industry leaders, chances are, they will engage with you, like Jesper Anderson! Keep in mind, because there are so many trolls on Twitter, far more than any other platform, not everyone will engage with you. Unfortunately, trolls will sometimes wash out your legitimate commentary with their nonsense. Don't take it personally, they may not see your response. However, we encourage you to use Twitter as an outreach platform.
Instagram tends to be a safer place. However, the caveat with that safety is it's a place people go to for safety. This may not be the best platform to advocate your thought leadership position. However, like Facebook, it's a great opportunity to post engaging content and grow your loyal customer following. If your account reaches 10,000 followers, you will unlock the "swipe up" feature in your stories. This will allow you to share your thought leadership on your Instagram account through your story and direct visitors to your website or blog wherever you've shared your latest thoughts.
LinkedIn is by far your best social media platform to advocate your thought leadership. It is here where you will connect with business owners in your industry and will be speaking their language. It may even net you to a few leads! As you're joining LinkedIn groups and publishing articles, be sure to ask for feedback. If there's no call to action, you cannot possibly expect someone to leave you feedback especially as you're working to establish your voice.
Topic 3: Play to your strengths so your message carries conviction
Determine what you are good at. You'll see this in our downloadable as well. In baseball, you don't ask a position player to pitch (unless it's a blow out). At the office, you don't ask your accountant to take over Director of IT, either, right? Why would you force yourself into a position of weakness due to the perceived lack of confidence in your message's delivery? What's your best method of communication? Start there. Are you an excellent writer? Are you an excellent speaker? Do you have an irresistible Morgan Freeman voice? Do you communicate visually through graphic design or video? Are there other people on your team that have different strengths you can collaborate with to strengthen your message?
What this all boils down to is your confidence. If whatever medium you choose to add your voice to the constant collective is not your strong suit, your voice will be drowned out. Start with what works for you and then diversify your messaging to other platforms.
Topic 4: How your outreach within the industry can lend credence to your voice
You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. As we mentioned earlier, you don't a become thought leader overnight. It takes a long time. However, there are ways to speed that process up! It starts with you being clear, consistent, constant and compassionate. It's the 4 C's! They have a way of sneaking into our blogs every now and again. At M&C Communications, we strive for this every day through our daily social media posts and our Move the Stairs Friday chats!
Make sure you're utilizing the contacts you meet to keep yourself and your brand top of mind! If you harvest an email address, you better be sending them content! All it takes is one email with one open and one well-written article to get an invite to a podcast or collaboration piece with someone who's already an established thought leader in your space. This takes us to the next bit of this: outreach. If you aren't actively commenting, sharing, liking and retweeting existing thought leaders in your space, you're taking the long road. The more interaction you have with them and their content, the better relationship you will build with them. Eventually, they may see your content and if they comment, share, like or retweet your article, that should be considered a huge win! You need to become a part of their tribe well before you can expect them to become a part of your tribe.
We've created a downloadable 1-sheet to get you started on a powerful thought leadership plan for your own brand. And for more ideas on becoming a thought leader in your own industry, watch our Move the Stairs Friday Chat.
Take a look at today's chat on YouTube!