Thought leadership is a key component of content marketing. When done right, it has the power to transform your cleantech brand. It can strengthen your position in the industry, open doors to new opportunities, and build lasting trust with the people in the audiences that matter most to your company.
So how does a company or individual become a thought leader? In this article we’ll walk you through how to approach a thought leadership strategy and give tips for the execution.
What is a thought leader?
A thought leader is an individual or company that is recognised in a specific industry as an informed opinion leader who has expertise and authority. When they speak, people listen, and they’re often being asked to share their opinion or speak at events or on webinars. But there’s an even simpler way to define a thought leader: they use their knowledge to identify useful ideas and then share them.
Define your message
The first thing you want to do is think about your audience and define your key messages. It’s always helpful to get inside the mind of your buyer personas and think about where they get their content and in what format. Do they prefer Twitter or LinkedIn? Once you’ve done this, ask yourself, where do I add value? What is my area of expertise? What am I more passionate about than my peers? Great thought leaders know where their expertise is most helpful and what their audience values, and they connect the two.
Enlist a team
Thought leaders don’t achieve success on their own. Much groundwork and coordination go on behind the scenes, from defining a strategy and KPIs to drafting content and thinking of new distribution channels. If you want to be an effective thought leader, it’s critical that you see this as a team effort and lean on your marketing experts for support.
Use what you have
What content do you already have that demonstrates your expertise? Maybe you have old reports or whitepapers which can be reworked and updated. Look for emails where you’ve answered tough questions for clients or co-workers and laid out your thinking particularly well. This can easily be turned into social updates or a new blog post.
Share others’ work
Part of being a thought leader is sharing other people’s work which you find valuable. Make sure you follow companies and industry leaders that you admire on social media and
share their content, with a short comment to add your take on the posts. The cleantech industry is fast-paced and there is lots of opportunity for commentary. Here are some of the thought leaders we think you should follow.
Share real time updates
Most thought leaders are regularly out and about at networking events of industry conferences. When you’re attending such events, make sure you’re active on Twitter and use the event hashtags.
Thought leadership in practise
We recommend dedicating 15-30 minutes per day to your thought leadership efforts. This could be scrolling Twitter and LinkedIn to find something to share or comment on or brainstorming a new content piece. Create a folder of ideas which the marketing team can access and turn into social media content and more.
Where else can you publish content, beyond your company blog and social media channels? Often, the people you’re trying to reach may never have visited your website or social channels before, so finding your content will be a challenge for them. Think about where your audience is likely to be getting their content and be present there. For example, post on Medium or in relevant LinkedIn groups. When you’re ready to step it up a notch, you can think about producing whitepapers and eBooks, or even developing print content.
Taking the above steps will get you on track to building your reputation as a cleantech thought leader. And remember: don’t be afraid to share your opinion. This is often what your audience values most about what you have to say.