Thought leadership is the beginning of a relationship with your audience.

Thought leadership is a vital element of an organization or business. However, it is one of the most misunderstood phrases in the business world today.

So, what is thought leadership? More importantly, what can it do for your business and how do you develop it?

Let’s start with defining thought leadership. According to Michael Brenner*, thought leadership is becoming the authority on relevant topics to your brand or service by delivering the answers to the questions on the minds of your target audience.

By creating relevant messages that surround hot topics trending in your industry, you begin setting an agenda of what your target audience should think about your brand. Thought leadership is the beginning of a relationship with your audience. Instead of selling your product or service, challenge, intrigue, and inspire those who are already familiar with your company.

Thought leadership is vital to both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) relations. It can come from anyone within your organization or company; each team member has experience and a different point of view on the industry. Utilize the different resources in your business to become a well-rounded source of information to your target audience.

When developing your position as a thought leader, remember these few key points.

-Sell an idea, never a product. Give your customer solutions that are valuable and relevant to them. Why should they care about what you offer?

-Focus on one topic at a time. When presenting your customer with messaging, focus on one topic at a time, highlighting your expertise. This will allow the customer to follow your relevant messages that speak directly to their interests.

-Address your target audience. If your audience isn’t interested in the content you’re producing, developing thought leadership within your industry will be a waste. Discuss topics that your audience can connect with. Thought leadership needs to help your audience with their work, life and future.

-Give useful information to your target audience. Make your audience feel smarter. Thought leadership is effective when a member of your audience can come away with a practical application to their life. Not only does your brand develop credibility but, now, your audience will remember you.

*Micheal Brenner, SAP

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