Behind the Scenes Insights into the World of Thought Leadership
In 1968, Andy Warhol famously proclaimed that in the future everyone would be world famous for 15 minutes. Just a few decades after this prescient prediction an innovative technology known as the Internet burst onto the scene giving individuals of all ages and backgrounds an unprecedented platform to earn their piece of that global recognition.
But the promises of digital media didn’t just stop there. With the advent of content delivery tools like blogging, social media, and podcasts; influencers in ever niche imaginable could now build dedicated fan followings and parlay them into real earning opportunities. All of a sudden Youtube and Instagram celebrities were being handed six-figure sponsorship deals, and bloggers like Tim Ferriss and Nate Silver became bankable brands in their own right. Today, everyone is one the lookout for authentic content creators that can strike a chord with marketing-savvy audiences.
The World of Thought Leadership
For entrepreneurs and businesspeople this idea of gaining an international reputation based on your unique perspectives and expert opinions can be summed up with the term, thought leadership. Thought leaders are seen as innovators, positioned at the forefront of their respective industries. When clients, peers and interested parties need trusted insights on the latest developments within a specific space, they turn to these authoritative figures to explain what’s going on, and what it means for regular people.
As you can imagine, commanding such a position in any sector can translate to some pretty significant advantages. When you’re a visible participant in almost every public conversation related to your field, you command a position of credibility in an environment where consumer trust is incredibly difficult to come by.
Of course this publicity builds a highly effective lead generation engine all of its own. As word of mouth spreads about your expertise, customer after customer is compelled to seek out your products and services in search of more of the same. In a marketplace where multinational corporations are spending millions of dollars on their digital branding and engagement strategies, this sort of self-sustaining marketing system is worth its share in gold.
Our Conversation with Shane Barker
As a lifelong entrepreneur, Shane Barker has worn many hats in his professional career, from bar owner to mortgage loan negotiator and public speaker. But whether running a brick-and-mortar franchise or an E-commerce venture, Shane has always relied on his understanding of marketing strategy to guide his success in any endeavor.
Today, he demonstrates these hard-earned skills day in and day out as the founder of three separate digitally-geared businesses that look to empower CEOs and business influencers with the right tools to become true thought leaders in their chosen space. With glowing profiles in Inc Magazine, Huffington Post and Forbes, Shane is no stranger to thought leadership himself. In fact, he’s set to teach an MBA course at UCLA on the very subject!
As you can imagine, we were more than pumped to get Shane’s insights on this rapidly evolving market. Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation.
Set a Clear Goal and Understand Where You Want to End Up
Creating content for its own sake will do little to advance your position in the industry. If you want to gain acclaim, you need to align your messaging with a clear purpose. What is the mission for your thought leadership? Do you want to attract new clients? Do you want to draw attention from the press? Are you looking to attract investment for your new business idea?
Setting your intentions at an early stage gives you a clear target to target your energy towards in the most effective manner. This singular focus should be translated into your content. Every article, podcast or video you publish should flow from your central thesis statement. For example, if your goal is to inform uninitiated audiences about the power of blockchain, your content should try to reveal different aspects of this idea in a thought-provoking manner.
But remember, thought leadership isn’t about selling your products and services. Modern buyers are trained to spot self-congratulatory content from a mile away. As a thought leader you’re marketing your job is to become a resource for people in your industry.
Start Guest Blogging
Take a gander over any business website and chances are that you’ll find a corporate blog with a few posts, and next to no views. Regardless of the strength of your content, you aren’t going to attract any readers by constraining yourself to a platform that isn’t set up for longform articles. Think of it this way, if you’re looking for reviews on Nike’s latest line of basketball shoes, are you going to check out their corporate blog, or are you more likely to check out the opinions offered by some well-known sneakerheads on Youtube?
For entrepreneurs, the best way to get your thoughts and opinions into the industry consciousness is through established social ecosystems like Linkedin and Quora. You’d also be extremely well-served to seek out guest blogging opportunities that can help you reach new audiences and develop strong backlinks for your great (but unseen) website content. Here are some helpful hints for optimizing your guest blogging efforts.
- Focus on quality not quantity. Even though you’re unlikely to be paid for your efforts on platforms like Medium, or Entrepreneur these websites will put you in front of a vast market of prospective clients. The last thing you want to do is turn these people off with rushed, low-quality articles that do little to impress.
- Try to focus on established blogs that are closely linked to your niche. Google gives preference to backlinks created through relevant networks.
- Look for signs of strong engagement including:
- Lots of comments, or social media shares.
- High SEO ranking.
- Strong domain authority (basically a statistic which measures the popularity of a website) anything over 30 will help you boost your website relatively quickly.
Master Public Speaking
At its core, thought leadership is all about communication. While the Internet is a highly effective tool for creating mass awareness, it’s still no match for the personal connections formed through face-to-face interaction. If you’re able to stand in front of a group of uninitiated people, and articulate your opinion in a way that truly speaks to their personal and professional reality then you have everything you need to be a thought leader in your space.
If you’re not confident in your ability to present your perspectives in a relatable, engaging manner then don’t worry. Public speaking is a skill just like any other and you can get better. In fact, we have a whole podcast dedicated to developing this underappreciated competency.
As your reputation grows though digital marketing efforts, you will be afforded plenty of opportunities to speak at industry events, live seminars and even podcasts. When these chances come along, you need to be equipped to utilize them to the fullest. After all, if you can’t market yourself then how can anybody else be expected to?
Find Out What Shane Has to Say
Like any good salesman, we have to leave you wanting a little bit more and in this case Shane really delivers. Listen to our full podcast to learn more expert secrets on creating thought leaders, and stay tuned because there’s more great content to come! Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on the great guests we have lined up in the weeks to come.