Defining Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership. You can’t move for thought leaders these days. Every company publishes thought leadership. Everyone after they gather a few hundred followers or have been working in their field for a few years seems to be a self proclaimed thought leader. But are they really? The short answer is no but let me explain.

The term “thought leadership” has become synonymous with “blog”. Because you publish an opinion, a view, does not make you a thought leader. We as marketeers need to move away from this term and get it back to one of genuine value. Once any term becomes broadly used it loses all its power.

So what is a thought leader?

They absolutely exist and the power of content from a thought leader remains enormous. What we are searching for is people who have a totally new angle. People who are driving change and developing new and insightful thinking on a specific subject area.

They may be a Nobel prize winning physicist, a highly experienced politician, a military leader who has experience decades of war, a business leader with deep specialism in their field or experience of running complex or highly successful businesses. But the common thread is that they are genuinely and regularly leading the thinking in the area.

They’re not as rare as that may seem – I myself have worked with many and even been labelled a thought leader myself for my work on predicting future technologies and due to the success of my book but I don’t label myself one.

The key point is that consumers see through the veils these days and quickly become cynical. They will start to develop negative opinions about your content and brand if you deliver ‘thought leadership’ that is really generic blogging.

So if thought leadership does fit with your marketing and business strategy – if it has a place in positioning you as experts in your field – then go for it, but do create genuine thought leadership and you will experience the true benefit.

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