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Why Thought Leadership Is Important for Your Growing Business

Gary Viray
April 3, 2023
13 min read

In today’s digital day and age, clout is currency—the more you have it, you’ll get more people to trust and do business with you. Industry leadership is the paramount reason why thought leadership is important for businesses, new and old.

Hence, integrating it into your digital marketing strategies is critical to ensure that you acquiring and retaining customers. Through expertly executed thought leadership practices, your growth isn’t limited to search engine optimization. Ultimately, it strengthens your brand presence and asserts your business value in an authoritative, authentic, and trustworthy way.

And, in a digital landscape that has grown tired of half-baked tips, this trust becomes the fuel for accelerating and generating sustainable growth.

Benefits Of Being A Thought Leader

To paint you a better picture of why thought leadership is important, here are some benefits you can look forward to as a growing business owner:

1. Allows you to share your expertise in your field

As a thought leader, you’re given the chance to show how knowledgeable you are in your industry. Then, when you apply your knowledge into must-have solutions for your audience, it becomes a buy-in for customers and encourages them to come back to you for more.

That’s added reach for and better-quality business, all for the effort of a few expert thoughts. So be sure to find every possible opportunity to give value to your audience such as writing guest blogs, guest-speaking at events, and more.

2. It creates an avenue to present your unique way of thinking

Thought leadership is a process of sharing new ideas. Hence, growing business owners like yourself who have a new take on providing relevant solutions can surpass even larger corporations.

There’s no one company that offers the best-fit solutions for each customer. And if you’re coming into the playing field offering something different, then the best way to ring it in is through thought leadership.

People are always looking for new solutions to old problems in their niche. When you show that you can deliver these, you become authoritative, carving a new path that’s easily recognizable in your industry.

3. Puts a spotlight on your business and unique brand value

By creating thought leadership content, you brand your business as an authority, telling audiences “My brand is exactly what you need.” 

As a result, more people will start valuing your work and, eventually, what your business is selling. If you continue doing so, you’ll soon find yourself not just the owner of a growing business, but a successful and influential one, too.

4. Allows you to foster connections with industry peers

Collaboration is a key facet of marketing that opens doors for all constituents. For thought leadership, in particular, it is necessary to build relationships with industry peers. 

Because the digital public relations process requires reaching out and, in turn, being open to outreach efforts you are able to build and nurture connections in your field. This fosters trust through the act of creating beneficial guest content for one another and, incidentally, each other’s audiences.

This collaborative process in thought leadership affords you opportunities to:

  • publish on various platforms
  • access a wider, newer audience
  • establish your brand as a pillar in the industry

But collaboration doesn’t just end in the creation of content. Once your peers recognize the value of your business and perspectives, it can potentially open the floodgates for higher-value and meaningful partnerships.

How To Build A Successful Thought Leadership Strategy

Now that you know the benefits of being a thought leader, these steps will help you become one today:

1. Set clear and realistic goals

Success is attained through small, consistent steps every day – not one giant leap forward. That’s why you have to create goals that impact your business, but are still doable with the available resources at hand.

In the case of thought leadership, you can pin down the following goals as a measure of success:

  • Reach. Is the amount of people you are able to talk to through your content – on websites, or others. Publishing these outside of your website and on the websites of peers and/or media helps you boost this metric not just in quantity but in quality, as well.
  • Traffic. Is fundamental to generating conversions and improving search rankings. Unlike reach, traffic is closer to an engagement metric as audiences click and find their way to your website.

Improving this through thought leadership is a trust signal to search engines and gives you more opportunities to capture leads.

  • Domain authority. Is a metric that signals the strength and authoritativeness of your websites. Measure through Moz’s MozBar, it’s a rough estimate of how trustworthy your website is.

This metric improves the more you contribute guest blogs to high-authority websites which, in turn, helps you rank better on search engines.

  • Engagement. Engagement tracking means you’re looking for people interacting with your content. If your audience continuously reacts, comments, or shares your content, then it means you delivered something useful for them.
  • Conversion. Finally, conversions mean if your audience does exactly what you want them to do. 

Conversions could mean a lot of things such as buying your product or service or downloading your e-book. Whatever the case, conversions show that all your efforts have convinced your audience to take a chance on your brand.

With these metrics tracked, you can better understand how well (or not) your thought leadership efforts are faring from different angles – something impossible to do when only viewing success as one whole picture.

2. Establish a powerful brand message

With your goals pinned down, it’s time to communicate and achieve them. To create a unique brand voice for your content, focus on creating content that speaks directly to the target audience’s needs and aspirations.

By doing so, you’ll learn how to ensure every piece of content you publish makes your audience feel heard. After all, your main goal is to give them solutions that can help them with their ongoing struggles.

Once you do this, watch as ordinary visitors transform into life-long fans of your content and brand.

3. Conduct thorough keyword research

Finding the keywords and publications your target audiences use allows you to make your business’ presence be known – increasing your chances of finding more avid supporters.

To conduct keyword research, be sure to follow these steps:

List down keywords related to your brand and business.

  1. Identify matching terms and related keywords you want to write content about.
  2. Establish which websites are linking to content produced around these keywords.
  3. Determine which websites are linking to content produced around these keywords.
  4. Develop topics based on the target website you want to pitch to, and the content gap identified for their audiences.

Now that you know how to do keyword research, you’re now ready to pitch your content.

4. Ready your pitches

Prepare suggested outlines and titles for the content you want to offer your targeted website publishers. By doing so, you’re effectively selling your content to the publisher, increasing the content’s chance of getting posted on the website.

Make sure your content is also valuable to your host publisher by following this step-by-step process:

  1. Offer something unique that the publisher’s many writers haven’t addressed in their content yet.
  2. Provide the editor with a list of topics you want to write about to make their selection process easier.  
  3. Be professional whenever you’re communicating to the publisher by being brief with your emails. However, ensure that these emails have all the essential details about your pitch.
  4. Have a clear CTA at the end of your message that encourages the editor to respond to your pitches.
  5. Email as many publishers as you can to increase your chances of getting a guest content spot – this is still a numbers game, after all.

By following these steps, you can create guest content that resonates that would surely catch the publisher’s eye.

5. Devise an outreach strategy

Good thought leaders devise outreach strategies that know how to effectively catch the attention of publishers and experts. 

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Ready an outreach list of the websites you want to get featured on.
  2. Reach out as an authority by expressing interest to contribute to the website as a leader in your organization.
  3. Develop a decision-making process for which pitches to pursue or drop (see the image below).

6. Create the content

To be a true thought leader, you must master various content creation skills like writing, doing research, public speaking, and more. You’ll develop these skills when you follow this flowchart:

When you consistently follow this flowchart, you’re slowly building your skillset towards that of an effective thought leader – so keep on practicing! 

7. Choose your platforms

The great thing about the internet is that there are endless possibilities to share your brand’s message. Whether it’s a blog through your own site, TikTok or YouTube videos, or through tweets, your message can reach so many people today.

To help you get the best results, here are some ideas you could use for different social media platforms:

  • Twitter. A great way to be a thought leader on this platform is by leveraging Twitter Spaces or creating concise threads detailing a specific topic. These efforts would result in more eyes on your Twitter page since you’re giving so much content.
  • YouTube/video-capable social media platforms. For YouTube or any other platforms with video, such as Facebook, you may opt to create long or short-form webinars. This works because these platforms’ users learn while watching. 
  • Instagram. Instagram, on the other hand, encourages you to create must-know industry infographics so that your target audience are always on the loop on the latest trends.
  • TikTok. A great way to get eyes on TikTok as a thought leader is by getting the highlights from your best-performing videos and uploading them on the platform. Doing so allows you to whet TikTok user’s appetite for your content as you give them something short and sweet. 

8. Measure and monitor your content performance

With your strong brand message now shared throughout different online platforms, it’s time to see if any of your plans worked. 

Here are some must-have tools to do this:

  • Referral traffic. Using Google Analytics, you can view how effective your guest blogs are at acquiring audiences by looking at referral traffic. High referral traffic from sites you knowingly submitted articles is a good sign that your content has resonated with your collaborator’s audience.
  • Backlinks. This specific metric can be viewed through Ahrefs’ Backlink Audit feature. It allows you to perform an analysis of the links that lead back to your website. Don’t just look at the number of links you acquire, but look at the quality, too.

Low-quality links (usually under 30 in domain rating) can pull down your domain authority and website health versus higher quality ones (domain rating of 30 and above).

Monitoring these metrics accordingly will help you better understand what works and what doesn’t for your thought leadership efforts.

Thought Leadership in Action

Now that you know the facts, it’s time you knew what effective thought leadership looked like in action:

  • Propelrr. We at Propelrr dabble in writing guest blogs to help us become an authoritative digital marketing company. In this article, we talk about how impactful doing survey experiments to achieve a brand’s bottom line. 

Additionally, we’ve done guest blogging for big media like Rappler, did guesting in podcasts like ‘A Better Normal’ by PumaPodcast, and other blog publications of related businesses. These efforts resulted in higher referral traffic to our site.

  • Jay Shetty. Jay Shetty is a life coach who shares many of his teachings through his YouTube channel, podcast, live guest speaking, and several books he authored. 

As a result, his YouTube channel has 4.67 million subscribers, his podcast, On Purpose, has 937,000 listeners, and his book, Think Like a Monk, is a constant bestseller. 

  • Deloitte. Professional services firm, Deloitte, shares its tech expertise and more on a free podcast called On Cloud. 

Because of the podcast’s accessibility, it’s one of the most highly rated tech podcasts out there, receiving a 4.7 out of 5 reviews on Apple Podcasts, and currently, has a 216-episode count.

Key Takeaways

To be a true thought leader, you must develop a voice that can never be drowned by others in today’s saturated digital landscape. With it, you’d become an authoritative presence among thousands in your industry. 

To do so, remember the lessons:

  • Be unique. Read, watch, or listen to as much business-related content as possible so you can offer unique insights to your audience.
  • Try different approaches. Take part in different activities like podcasting and guest blogging to build authority and reputation among multiple channels.
  • Keep on improving yourself. Improve your knowledge and skills to give your audience relevant solutions to their current problems. 

Finding the will to overcome the many challenges of being a thought leader is no easy feat. When you do, however, you’d be rewarded with the attention of your growing audience base.

gary viray headshot

Gary Viray

Gary Viray is the founder and CEO of Propelrr, a data-informed digital marketing agency operating both in the United States and the Philippines. Gary’s insights are founded on decades worth of experience in various digital marketing principles, with particular expertise in conversion rate optimization (CRO), and marketing experimentation. He usually writes for HubSpot, AWR, SEJ, Rappler, e27, and more.