Marti Sanchez is the CEO of Influence Podium, a thought leadership content marketing agency that helps B2B CEOs spread their message online. He is also the host of the Podium Stories podcast.
In this episode, Marti shares his take on how to become a thought leader that quickly boosts growth.
- Thought leader definition
- The mental challenge to becoming a thought leader
- What is a thought leader, and why does it matter?
- Is the term “thought leader” trite, overused, and to be avoided?
- How to become a thought leader
- 1. Clarify your area of expertise (and stick to it)
- 2. Work in the Industry
- 3. Be authentic
- 4. Set a goal to educate your audience
- 5. Get published
- 6. Reach out to influencers
- 7. Garner awards and accolades
- 8. Leverage content marketing
- 9. Engage on social media
- 10. Network within your industry
- 11. Secure speaking engagements
- 12. Build a story to humanize your brand
- 13. Be a resource and provide leadership content.
- 14. Be a leader
- Invest in the journey to become a thought leader
- Some topics we discuss on the episode include:
- Listen to the epsiode
- Related links and resources
- Connect with Marti
You don’t become a thought leader because you say you are. Instead, you become a thought leader because it is a phrase that others use to describe you. Why? Because they believe you are a thought leader.
Consider the following people – Elon Musk. Anthony Fauci. Greta Thunberg.
The first is a globally recognized entrepreneur. The next is a well-known physician-scientist and immunologist. The third is an advocate against global warming and a recognized worldwide environmental hero.
They come from different industries and have different areas of expertise, but they have one thing in common: they are all thought leaders.
Thought leader definition
A thought leader is defined as a person who is considered an authority in their chosen field and is a source of inspiration, motivation, and/or knowledge for others. A thought leader can be seen as an expert or guru who often influences the decisions made by future customers.
Marti Sanchez shares his thoughts on thought leadership in the video below.
The mental challenge to becoming a thought leader
Marti says that most people who explore thought leadership faces a challenge. The challenge lies in desiring to develop a unique point of view. Marti calls this a trap that leads to paralysis. In the video below he shares his take on it.
What is a thought leader, and why does it matter?
That said, while there are benefits to be had, it is also a responsibility. More often than not, a thought leader is confident in their area of expertise and helpful to others. However, they also must work to stay up-to-date on their field so that they are well informed.
As a thought leader, you should strive to inspire, motivate, and educate those around you, as well as be able to quickly answer questions about your area of expertise through either research or personal knowledge. You should have the ability to deliver information in ways that are valuable to your target audience and can be easily understood and implemented by them.
One of the main reasons you should strive to be a thought leader is to boost your business growth. This is because thought leaders are seen as credible authorities on their topics, and people listen when they speak, which means if you put out valuable information in an engaging way, then more people will buy from you.
Additionally, there are two other benefits these are:
Network – To become a thought leader you need to build an incredible network that can be used for your business and personal needs.
Control – Thought leaders have some degree of control over their industries. By providing input into what the future of the industry could be. You have the opportunity to help define and shape it.
Is the term “thought leader” trite, overused, and to be avoided?
Yes, the term is overused. In today’s content-saturated world, it can be difficult to stand out as a thought leader without stepping on toes or seeming like you are trying too hard.
The key for any business wanting to create great thought leaders in their industry is to become and remain considered a leading authority in their niche is becoming an authentic voice of truth.
You can do this to differentiate your brand in the market but as Marti says in the video below you need to approach it with caution.
How to become a thought leader
Here are steps that your thought leadership strategy should include. Please note that different formats like video content alone won’t suffice to build your thought leadership. It is a journey that requires a lot of time, new ideas, and hard work around your area of subject matter expertise:
1. Clarify your area of expertise (and stick to it)
To become a thought leader, you need to be clear and consistent with your insights within your area of expertise. Creating a niche market or specific area of expertise will help you build your brand and establish credibility in your field. In addition, your niche will keep people coming back to you for more of your expertise.
Start by identifying the main areas where it makes sense for you to become an expert, and then choose one or two topics that are a natural extension of those core competencies. Then, you need to be able to speak about them with ease and make connections between them.
2. Work in the Industry
This might seem obvious but concentrate your efforts on the areas where you wish to become a thought leader. By executing the work and being a part of the industry, you will establish basic credibility.
Considering engaging in research until you are an expert in your field, not just in your role but in every imaginable role. Know what helps your company and industry win, what helps competitors win, and ask yourself what the industry’s future will look like so you can make forecasts.
Tracking your results in the short and long term is one strategy that has shown to be effective for me and others. Take accreditation courses, attend seminars or even volunteer as a guest lecturer at a local university to hone your abilities. Above all, be well-versed in your field.
3. Be authentic
Allow people to get to know you and connect with you on multiple levels by being genuine. This creates a sense of familiarity and trust, which allows your thoughts and ideas to be digested. Share “authentic” images and videos of yourself, such as behind-the-scenes pictures that reveal your true nature. Also, don’t be concerned about what you say in public – it pays to be honest, controversial, and to put your faith in a vision without fear of being proven incorrect.
4. Set a goal to educate your audience
The first thing to ask yourself with every project is “why?” What motivates you to become a thought leader? Is it to advance in your job, change careers, generate finances, or increase corporate brand awareness?
We’re professionals, which means we’re experts in a particular field. Sales, engineering, computer science, and finance are all possible areas of expertise. Outside of work, we are passionate about golf, skydiving, cooking, parenting, etc. So share your professional and personal interests with the rest of the world and teach others from your unique experiences.
5. Get published
To become a thought leader, you need to fortify your position consistently. One way to do that is to publish on topics related to your areas of expertise. Publishing is a valuable strategy for thought leaders because it enables them to create or collect content and make it available to their audience.
This increases the odds that you will become an influencer in your industry by making yourself easily findable while also giving people compelling reasons why they should listen to what you have to say. A few ways to do that include:
- Publish blog posts on your brand’s website
- Publish books or eBooks
- Create guides and fact sheets
- Contribute articles to well-known publications
- Get featured on podcasts and webinars
- Live stream events and interviews
6. Reach out to influencers
Influencers are people who have an established connection with an audience interested in a specific niche. In addition, they usually have a large following of people who respect them and listen to their advice before making a purchase decision. These influencers, therefore, provide new avenues for positioning and visibility.
Find influencers in your field to learn from and form relationships with. Following them on social media and leaving comments on their posts and tweets is a great way to get to know them. Provide new viewpoints and valuable insights, not just boring comments, when you do so. This interaction allows you to form a bond with the influencer and their audience. Influencer marketing is the term for this.
Instead of asking for help from influencers, try offering it. For example, providing assistance with a campaign or contributing to an article might go a long way towards creating a relationship.
7. Garner awards and accolades
To become a thought leader, it helps to be considered credible by organizations or communities in your industry. Garnering awards and accolades is one way of establishing that.
It helps to have several awards and accolades. But quantity doesn’t make up for quality and the details behind why it was awarded. The idea is to create a platform that will assist you in selling your expertise, honing your message, and opening doors to new opportunities.
The more credible and established you are in your industry, the easier it will be to gain exposure in major media outlets, open doors to new opportunities, acquire sought-after speaking engagements, and build a following. Consider creating a page on your website dedicated to your honors and achievements and link to it from your bio and home page.
8. Leverage content marketing
Expand your reach by incorporating thought leadership into your content marketing plan. Content marketing is a powerful tool for informing, educating, and expanding your organic reach.
Content marketing can be done in several different ways. For example, you can produce original content like blog posts, contribute to publications, make infographics, publish original research papers, host webinars, and submit motivational or instructional films.
Always start with a blueprint when developing a content marketing plan. First, make a plan to align your brand’s positioning, target market, and goals. Then, using an editorial calendar, create a thorough plan for your campaign’s flow. This technique might assist you in keeping track of your material and staying on track with your objectives.
Keep in mind that your goal isn’t to sell a service or product, nor is it to write content solely for SEO. Ultimately, you want to position yourself or your company as the most authoritative voice in your industry. So, to help generate traffic to your site, optimize your content using keyword words that your target market is searching for.
9. Engage on social media
We covered social networking with influencers but a strong social media presence is also important in being an effective thought leader that can influence others in the way they address issues in your industry. Chances are your audience uses social media platforms to engage with others. You can use these platforms, including the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to boost your thought leadership efforts and expand your audience by engaging with them.
Share interesting articles and commentaries. Also, you can instantly send live videos to your audience. Continue to post engaging content that builds followers and expands your reach on social media.
10. Network within your industry
Boost your industry presence and build your brand by attending networking events, conferences, industry events, seminars, and other in-person events. Get to know other leaders in your field, network and learn from experts and find mentors who can help you grow your expertise.
Answer media inquiries by using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to build relationships with journalists who cover your industry. Do you already use HARO? Keep others informed about the platform’s benefits.
11. Secure speaking engagements
One of the key benefits of becoming a thought leader is that it can lead to an increased number of speaking engagements. Increase your visibility and credibility by delivering presentations at industry functions, conferences, or universities in your field. Thought leaders are often asked on panels for their insights on current events from time to time as well – so be sure you stay on top of industry developments.
A speaking engagement bolsters your standing as an expert in your field.
You can start delivering topical speeches, inaugural addresses, or thematic briefings at community meetings or lunch and learns. It would help to incorporate prepared notes into presentations.
Regardless of the audience or the event, always provide value. Maintain substance and add new insights to your presentation.
To get the most from your work and research, re-use it in blog posts, e-books, and infographics.
12. Build a story to humanize your brand
A personal story helps your company’s brand image and human aspect. In addition, people often enjoy stories about their own journeys, which give them a chance to feel connected to your goals and successes.
The more personal you are, the more people will want to connect with you. People crave authenticity, and knowing about your background in relation to what they do is a great way to gain their trust.
Giving a voice to your business and telling its story allows people to connect with you on a deeper level, which will lead them to become customers or advocates for what you do.
Journalists like your audience also crave a human angle, and so sharing stories that serve that purpose increases the chance of media mentions.
13. Be a resource and provide leadership content.
A resourceful, helpful expert is always in demand. Knowing how you want to be perceived and having a narrative allows you to use digital tools to spread tips, tricks, and best practices. Perhaps there’s new industry research you could leverage as well. Utilize your knowledge to supplement the research findings. Inform, help, and offer guidance instead of just selling a product or service.
Consistency is the key. Listen to what Marti has to say in the video below
If you have 15 minutes each day, spend a few minutes on LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit, answering questions. A content calendar could be created to schedule your articles and videos to increase your thought leadership. Consistency is key here. Make a consistent appearance in public.
14. Be a leader
Rather than running away from or slamming your competitor, embrace it. This is quite important. Learn from them, become friends with them, and show them that you want your leading ideas to benefit the entire business – including them. It’s also vital to demonstrate to the industry what the true leader is.
Invest in the journey to become a thought leader
Becoming a thought leader is no easy task. It necessitates a combination of hard effort, patience, and perseverance, as well as creativity and a dash of luck. You can’t just claim to be an expert and expect people to listen to you.
Thought leadership is a process that never ends. You need to stay on top of your industry trends and expertise by constantly upgrading yourself and your brand once you’ve established yourself as an expert among experts.
You can’t just claim to be an expert and expect people to listen. You have to become the type of person who will invest in their journey, who has a sense of ownership with what they do. You may not become a thought leader overnight, but it will happen eventually if you keep at it.
Some topics we discuss on the episode include:
- What is thought leadership
- Are business leaders actively looking for thought leadership content
- The Unique Point of View Trap
- Is thought leadership receiving a bit of a backlash due to it being overused
- When should you consider becoming a thought leader
- Who should use thought leadership content marketing
- What are the benefits of thought leadership
- How to become a thought leader
- Getting thought leadership content out of subject matter experts
- The problem with most thought leadership strategies
- How to harness the power of your thought leadership strategy
- Is your thought leadership content really thought-leading
- The audience test
- How to become a thought leader that boosts business growth
- How to create thought leadership that drives results
- and much much more …
Listen to the epsiode
Related links and resources
- Check out Influence Podium
- Learn from Michael Brenner – The Importance of Building Customer Relationships: 11 Ways to Build Them
- Listen to my interview with Rich Rose – How to Radically Improve Customer Service for Business Growth
- Listen to my interview with Ari Galper- 5 Powerful Trust Based Selling Principles That Drive Business Growth
- Get even more inspiration from Michael Haynes – How to Drive Growth with a Buyer Driven B2B Sales Approach
Connect with Marti
Subscribe to & Review the Predictable B2B Success Podcast
Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of the Predictable B2B Podcast! If the information in our interviews has helped you in your business journey, please head over to Apple Podcasts, subscribe to the show, and leave us an honest review.
Your reviews and feedback will not only help me continue to deliver great, helpful content, but it will also help reach even more amazing founders and executives just like you!