A six step plan – Become a thought leader

We all know that thought leadership is more than just content; it’s opinion, leadership and innovation in your field of expertise. It positions you as the ‘go to’ expert.

Being a recognised thought leader doesn’t necessarily just happen. To become an authority, you need to make thought leadership part of your strategy. Yes, that’s right – you need to plan.

Here is a simple six step plan to becoming a thought leader:

  1. Identify your niche target market

You probably already do this when your firm undertakes their business planning process, but the key is to be specific. Think about your ideal client, not just a broad sector. For example; instead of ‘agribusiness’, think of your niche – Is it a niche family owned stock farm whose children have moved away, they are ready for retirement but don’t know how to extract the capital from their business? Is it a privately held cropping venture, with revenues tipping $30m – and it’s time to get an audit? Whomever your market is, make sure you can know who they are, their issues, where they go for their research and who they trust for information. This will help your develop your thought leadership approach.

  1. Identify the key pain points of your clients and prospects

You know your clients. (If you don’t, you should!). Ask questions, listen to them, and pry a little. You want to understand their unique needs. This could be as simple as catching up for coffee to hear about their plight, or conducting a survey to understand from a wider audience. The more you know, the more you can relate to them and then you can empathise and provide a solution.

  1. Understand the topical issues for today and tomorrow

What are the topical issues today? Are you across them? Do you have an opinion on what this issue means for your client, their value chain, their operating environment? Will your opinion provoke thought? Will your opinion provide insights to benefit your clients or prospects?

We don’t just want an overview of change in legislation; that’s just hygeine. We want to know how it impacts the economy, the industry, specific businesses and your client.  We want to know the future opportunities resulting or what challenges the legislation may bring.

Add research to your own knowledge. Research and proactively think about the issues. Be ahead of the game; linking this thinking back to those that matter – your clients and target market.

  1. Understand the medium you will use

How do your clients and prospects like to receive communications (online, email, social media, in person, via their industry association etc…)? After all, you can spend all the time in world creating, but if no one is reading or listening, then there is no point.

  1. Develop your calendar of key elements

This is not just content development, but a ‘commitment’ to engaging with your target market on a regular basis. Think about some areas or times where you can add value to your clients personally. Think about events that would be valuable to increase your network, or share information at. Think about new releases and partnerships.

  1. Set a plan with objectives

Having a goal to be a recognised thought leader is great – but what does that mean from a business perspective? KPIs will assist in focussing on the outcomes of your thought leadership strategy. You may measure your increased profile in many ways – website hits, followers on LinkedIn or Twitter, media opportunities, invitations to events, presenting opportunities. Ultimately, a thought leadership strategy is all about converting your credibility into revenues. Are you increasing the number of leads to your firm and converting these into new, higher value business?

Measuring your thought leaderships return on investment will enable you to understand the real benefit of being more visible in the markets that matter.

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