Thursday, 8 July 2010

Thought leadership - what, why and how?

Thought leadership is a phrase I have heard with increasingly regularity in my job over the past year or so. My job involves working in the new media bit of an old media company, and I have a client facing role.  This means I listen to, discuss with, and am occasionally praised by or moaned at by lots of different corporates and government departments.  And the phrase thought leadership seems to be the buzz word of the moment.

What is thought leadership?

Thought leadership is about being the authority in your field, or being seen as the authority. It is about raising the profile of a brand (be that a company or an individual). It is about ideas, about information, about staying ahead of the curve.

Why is it important?

The web is competitive and noisy, getting your voice heard and ultimately selling your product can be a challenge. Brands recognise that having a transactional/destination website, which people visit once a year to renew their car insurance, may no longer be enough. Instead brands increasingly understand the importance of building a relationship. If your potential customer views you as trusted, as respected, as a thought leader, they may be more likely to buy something from you.

What are thought leaders doing?

Providing information - whether that is in the form of news, blogs, enewsletters, tweets. Being useful/helpful is a great way to establish your brand as a thought leader. If people know they can come to you for the latest developments in their industry/area of interest and that the information is accurate, perhaps they'll also trust your products?

Listening/engaging - thought leaders listen (it's how they know so much!) and encourage people to get involved. By listening to what clients want, and don't want, thought leaders can innovate and stay ahead of the curve. Rather than broadcasting or preaching, if a brand engages with the public, they may establish a sense of shared ownership from clients.

Some thought leaders, you might be interested in following on Twitter (or reading their blogs):
I'll keep adding to this list... and you can add your own thought leaders below...

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