5 Steps For Becoming an Inbound Marketing Thought Leader

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5 Steps For Becoming an Inbound Marketing Thought Leader


steve jobs thought leader 2Becoming a thought leader is the ultimate goal of many inbound marketers nowadays. After all, who doesn't want to be recognized as (and profit from) being one of the foremost authorities in this booming industry? Unfortunately (and despite an abundance of companies proclaiming they can take you to the thought leadership motherland), there's really no fool-proof plan to becoming a thought leader.

However, there are several steps most experts agree can get you on the right path to establishing yourself as an inbound marketing thought leader. Here, I discuss just five of those steps.

  • Develop your personal brand and voice - Developing a personal brand is essential to becoming a thought leader. In a Forbes article, brand strategist and author Laura Ries advises to begin by defining who you are and your unique abilities. Then take the time to speak with many different people in your life and industry to better understand their perceptions of your strengths and overall image. Once you've developed your brand, developing your voice comes next. Ask yourself, “What is it that I want to say, and how do I want to sound when saying it?” Think carefully about your subject matter and audience.
  • Create and maintain a blog - Google and other search engines continue to favor websites that produce informative or entertaining content on a regular basis via blogging. And it doesn’t exclusively apply to companies; individuals can benefit from search engine boosts, too. When beginning blogging, try to post as often as possible, but realize this may mean you can only churn out two or three well researched blogs per week. It’s OK to start small as long as the content is worthwhile and you have the goal to increase production.
  • Produce a variety of interesting and engaging advanced content - Blogging, while effective, is only one type of content that can help achieve thought leadership goals. Advanced content like ebooks, webinars, infographics and industry cheat sheets shows industry professionals that your knowledge expands beyond short blog posts, proving you’re capable of thought leadership on an even greater scale.
  • Establish yourself on social media - Begin establishing yourself on social media by conducting a little research: Identify and follow the top influencers in your industry as well as other industry professionals; monitor what they’re saying, when they’re saying it and how responsive their audiences are; search for topics central to your industry for sharing and blogging inspiration; share your content and the content of others, tagging whenever possible; engage with comments and questions. These efforts will build your audience slowly over time, so if you’re looking for something a little quicker, consider researching third-party audience-building tools.(Just ensure they’re connecting you with quality contacts!)
  • Write guest articles and blogs - Contributing guest content works well for both increasing your visibility and promoting your blog. Additionally, writing guest articles and/or blogs helps you establish high-quality relationships with journalists and other industry professionals who can benefit you. Remember, though these guest contributions are appearing on another publication, they need to be on par with the quality content you create for your blog. Why? Poor quality contributions will likely be rejected and those that do sneak through to publication will still carry your name, and you don’t want junk content tarnishing your thought leader status.

Want to know what other steps you can take toward becoming an inbound marketing thought leader? Download our FREE thought leadership guide today!

What steps do you think are essential to becoming an inbound marketing thought leader? Share your input in the comment section!

Photo Credit: acaben

lisa gulasy

Known as Hawkeye for her near superhuman copy editing abilities, Lisa Gulasy applies her unique experiences in agency and journalism to manage strategy and day-to-day engagement of client social media profiles and assist in researching and writing blogs, press releases and advanced content. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

social media thought leadership via content marketing


Sadly, Lisa, this is just another article that promotes the tactical aspects of what is often confused with thought leadership but is likely to be no more than content marketing.  
At what point does the client's unmet needs get mentioned, because I'm not seeing anything about that here.  
Even your opening statement "who doesn't want to be recognized as (and profit from) being one of the foremost authorities in this booming industry" puts the focus in the wrong place: Me, Me, Me!  
Thought leaders are rarer than articles like this lead everyone to believe because they put their client's needs front and center of everything they do. Theirs is a strategic focus, rather than a tactical one. As Craig Badings and I outline in our book #Thought Leadership Tweet: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign, thought leadership is totally client-centric, advancing the marketplace of ideas by positing actionable, commercially relevant, research-backed, new points of view.  
It's not about establishing a personal brand, but identifying a unique "white space" in which the thought leader addresses previously unexplored needs and proposes ways to fill them.  
And if you're producing "junk content" then you don't have thought leadership status. If no one, other than you and maybe your mother, thinks of you as a thought leader --then you're not one. Because thought leaders, by their very definition, differentiate themselves and their organizations with compelling points of view that are intriguing, innovative, inspiring and wholly relevant to their audience. 
Never mentioning the audience at all isn't helpful in overcoming the current dilution of the term "thought leader" so that it's believed to be synonymous with content marketing. But the two are not the same. One is strategic, the other tactical.
Posted @ Thursday, March 14, 2013 7:53 PM by Dr. Liz Alexander
Hello Dr. Liz! 
Thanks so much for your comment! I appreciate you sharing your input, and you bring up a few good points in your comment.  
Number 1: I do not discuss meeting clients needs or strategy in this post. To this I say you're absolutely correct. I focused the post on the tactics most experts agree can get you on the right path to establishing yourself as a thought leader. As you know, every successful strategy starts with thorough research (AKA- defining how to strategically meet the client's needs) then moves to brainstorming tactics to achieve overarching goals and objectives. 
Number 2: To be a thought leader, you need to add valuable insight, not just "junk content." I absolutely agree. (You'll see that in the thought leadership guide I reference in the post.) Many thought leaders are forward-looking, while some thought leaders simply provide clarity to confusing and complicated situations and business scenarios. Either way, they're adding value. 
Thanks again for the comment!
Posted @ Monday, March 18, 2013 10:54 AM by Lisa Gulasy
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