5 Ways Thought Leadership Can Transform Your Startup

October 27, 2014

6:30 pm

What does Nilofer Merchant, Naval Ravikant and Robert Scoble have in common? They are considered thought leaders in specialized industries. This “business jargon” is considered a very strong tool in an effective content marketing strategy. It helps establish a company or individual as an expert, adding value to a brand or service the company sells.

Thought Leadership helps your startup by: Increasing visibility, reaching potential customers through education, getting noticed by the media, and inspiring meaningful connections.

Creating a brand affinity through thought leadership means you become part of the conversation early on. The goal is to win the audience's trust. Shaping people's perceptions of your startup requires a thoughtful content marketing strategy. Here are some important rules to consider when becoming a Thought Leader:

1. Give to Get If you're an expert in certain industry, share your experiences. Thought leaders are people who can move and inspire others with their innovative ideas, and help followers replicate and scale their successes. So don't hold back and create your thought leadership with an eye toward accrual of brand value, not revenue. Think: If you build it, they will come.

2. Listen to the conversation Part of being a leader is listening to your audience. Do your research: find out who are the influencers in your market and find out what they are talking about. That is the only way you know when to come into the conversation offering valuable content. There is very little generic thought leadership that is useful.

3. Sell ideas, not products.  It goes back to our first point, if your ideas are valuable and meaningful, customers will eventually find you. This is a long-term strategy, where followers trust you to help them figure out how to solve certain problems. You're the expert. When that happens, the thought leadership conversation becomes a pre-sales conversation and then you can shift into a more traditional sales relationship.

4. Get involved. You can write thoughtful papers, give interesting interviews, and engage on social media. But, it is important meet people and participate in industry events. Become a panelist on certain topics, or even just come for the networking opportunities.

5. Be Humble. A lot of times you're discussing topics that have not been discussed in-depth, so you will make some mistakes. As long as you admit when you're wrong, it's okay. You're an early adopter and no one expects you to know it all.

Need some inspirations? Check out these Thought Leaders on Soundcloud.

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.