6: Become The Thought Leader Your Customers Listen To

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Why should you become a thought leader in your industry? In an era where digital transformation continues to reshape customer journeys, the concept thought leadership has grown in importance. In todays’ marketplace, 82% of B2B buyers trust thought leaders when they make a purchasing decision (Gartner 2022). Another 68% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company and person that is considered a thought leader (Gartner 2022). In this article we will further explore what it is, how to build your strategy, and how to overcome regular challenges. 

Understanding Thought Leadership

What makes a thought leader customers actually want to listen to? The first step is figuring out what a thought leader is and why thought leadership is beneficial to your company.  

Aside from the statistics from Gartner, we found another study from the consulting firm Deloitte. They had two interesting findings:  

  1. Companies that regularly produce thought leading content have a 38% higher leads generation than companies who don’t publish that sort of content. 
  1. These companies also saw a 50% increase in sales over a three-year period. 

These are some pretty big numbers and further underlines the importance of thought leadership.

What is thought leadership?

Thought leadership could be defined as an individual or company that has authority and recognition in a specific field. It’s often related to intellectual influence and unique points of view. It involves a deep understanding of who your target audience is, what their world is like, and what they want to know more about. In many industries thought leaders are seen as go-to sources for insights, trends, and solutions. As described earlier, they have a huge influence over buying decisions.  

Want to learn more about how to combine digital and personal channels to create world-class customer experiences? Download our whitepaper “The hybrid customer journey” by clicking here and get more insights on thought leadership and other related subjects. 

Building a Thought Leadership Strategy 

Developing a thought leadership strategy requires a deliberate approach. You need to think about the subject you will position yourself as a thought leader in. Also, you have to think about your target audience. Where do they spend their time? What do they struggle with? What is happening in their industry? What insights are going to resonate with them? And how could they solve their problems or gain opportunities? All these questions are key in building your thought leadership strategy. It’s about identifying the unique intersections of your expertise and your audience’s needs. Then consistently delivering insight that speaks to those needs.  

Another important thing to consider is how you are going to deliver these insights. Some are finding great success by being provocative while others are inspiring. There are even some companies that find they best deliver their expertise with humor. When you have decided on how you are going to deliver your expertise you also have to identify who’s going to deliver it. Maybe you have some subject matter experts in your business that wouldn’t mind being a bit more vocal on LinkedIn for example.  

This approach will not only position your brand as an industry leader but also contribute to more engaged and loyal customers. 

Overcoming Challenges in Thought Leadership 

The path to becoming a thought leader is full of challenges. You have to make sure your message resonates with your audience, and that they see it. But the biggest challenge we see is related to fear – from the employer and the employees.  

Employee Fears 

When an organization makes the leap towards being thought leaders’ employees quickly realize they must contribute. That’s often when their fears begin to show. Maybe they feel like they don’t have anything valuable to share. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable publishing content on LinkedIn. Maybe they even have a fear of being judged or expressing their opinions publicly.  

How you overcome these fears is specific to each individual. But it’s important that everyone knows why their contributions are important to the overall goal of being thought leaders. If you find that an employee is fearful of expressing their opinions, it often helps to first understand why they feel that way. When you understand why they are feeling a certain way it is easier to help them by introducing new perspectives.  

Employer Fears 

A common fear among employers is that their employees are going to become attractive to other companies if they start sharing knowledge. Especially if they share knowledge on LinkedIn that originally served as a recruiting platform. What employers often say is that they are afraid of losing their employes. Another common fear is that employees are going to share something they think is wrong. Employers could also have a fear that their employees will waste time on creating content and sharing it. 

As with the fears of employees, a perspective change is often necessary. What would happen to your company if your competitors took the thought leadership position? Is it realistic in today’s market to have employees stay at your company forever? Could it be considered a privilege to have employees that other companies want to recruit who still choose to work for you? Think of the initial fact that B2B buyers are 68% more likely to buy from a thought leader: What would it mean for your company if more people became thought leaders? 

Sometimes fear within the organization is the most difficult obstacle to overcome and often it can be beneficial to have external help. Contact us if you want help with becoming thought leaders or need help overcoming common fears in the organization. 

Leveraging Digital Platforms for Thought Leadership 

There are many different channels where B2B companies could position themselves as thought leaders. Some of the channels are tradeshows, events, newspapers, websites, industry magazines, etc. We also live in a world where 91% of B2B buyers are active on social media platforms. That’s why LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms for B2B companies to master.  

Why use LinkedIn? 

LinkedIn is not like any other social network. It’s a highly professional platform compared to Facebook, Instagram, X, or Snapchat. There’s more than 1 billion members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. On LinkedIn it’s also easy to connect with your target audience and make sure they see the content you share. Compared to other social media platforms, LinkedIn has a lot of untapped potential regarding posting content. Some say just 5% of LinkedIns members publish posts every week. That gives you a huge advantage to have your message shown in the feed. In addition to sharing your own content; LinkedIn is a wonderful place to stay top of mind by interacting with your target audience in the comments.  

If you want to succeed with thought leadership on LinkedIn consistency is key. It’s not enough to publish content occasionally. To position yourself at the forefront of your customers’ mind you need to engage frequently on LinkedIn. 

Conclusion 

The need for thought leaders has grown and there’s huge benefits to gain for both companies and individuals, especially on LinkedIn. In a B2B context it can help you influence buyers’ decisions and increase your credibility as a company. As we keep navigating the complexities of digital transformation, the role of thought leaders becomes increasingly critical in guiding customers through their journeys. Embrace the challenge of becoming the go-to expert in your industry and reap the benefits. 

Are you looking for more insights on how to become the thought leader your customers want to listen to? Tune in now and listen to our founders Mathias and Ottos discussion on our podcast “The hybrid customer journey”. 

Simon Blanche

Simon Blanche