5 Tips for Entrepreneurs Building Thought Leadership

By: Elena Kalodner-Martin and Kendall Leon

If you are in the process of building your company’s thought leadership, you probably have experience conducting market research, communicating what your products or services are, and networking with other industry leaders. All of these are important steps, but developing a strategic approach to your thought leadership content helps ensure successful—and sustainable—growth. This blog shares five market-tested strategies that can accelerate your thought leadership past the initial launch phase.

1. Identify your talent.

First, think about what makes you and your team stand out: your unique insights, special expertise, or exceptional strengths. Next, begin to get comfortable with sharing that expertise with other people who have a hunger to learn what you know.

To do this, join the larger conversation. Find, circulate, and react to recently published thought pieces in your areas of expertise. From there, you can start to make connections with other stakeholders in the industry, such as other innovators, funding agencies and venture capitalists, and potential clients. By sharing your knowledge with people who value what you do, you can more clearly articulate not just what you do, but what makes your company different. 

2. Document your strategy.

To start crafting a thought leadership strategy, you and your team need to determine three key pieces: mission, audience, and medium. Ask yourself: Why do we want to become thought leaders? What’s our business’ mission? Who do we want to reach, and why? How can we best connect with this audience? Answering these questions will ensure that you can maximize impact while staying true to your company’s values.

However, building thought leadership needs to be sustainable. Consider how your business model, budget, and objectives work with your thought leadership plans. If you are finding that your content doesn’t support your short- and long-term goals, it might be time to revise your approach.

3. Build out your editorial calendar.

Once you’ve developed a strategy, commit to consistency. Start by building a robust library of content ideas and plan out their creation in an organized editorial calendar. 

Feeling stuck? Select an annual theme, build monthly micro-themes and align content deliverables toward a bigger vision. This can be a valuable team-building activity; by hosting consistent content ideation sessions with your subject matter experts, writers, and content strategists, you can source and discuss ideas and get a better sense of your team’s capacity.

4. Get going! Write, record, and speak… and then adjust based on operational capacity.

Most entrepreneurs give a lot of thought to their business vision, core products, and management structure. But one of the biggest challenges to thought leadership is consistency—which must come from operational capacity. 

To ensure that you and your team will be able to craft consistent, well-researched, and creatively-written and designed deliverables, you need to think about what’s practically feasible for your company and scale your workflow accordingly. Be sure to account for all the time it takes to make thought leadership great, including deep thinking, researching, ideating, writing, revising, and finally, sharing it with the world.

5. Measure, learn, and revise.

It takes time and iteration to develop strong thought leadership. Your company is always learning more about your own products and services, your market, and the industry, and your content will need to reflect this growth. 

To assess your thought leadership’s efficacy, test the waters with a pilot pool before making sudden or dramatic changes. Invite feedback, and then work with your team to revise as needed. Build time for this process into your editorial calendar. Be sure to analyze and reflect on the current and potential future value of the time you’re spending on content on a weekly or monthly basis. 

It is a privilege to make time for growing your team’s expertise and thought leadership. And yet, it is critically important to the world that more and more experts like you make the time to translate what you know. Following these five steps helps you do so in strategic, intentional ways that harness productivity, maximize impact, and spread your knowledge into the future—for good. 

Untold Content delivers high-impact content strategies and content marketing services by immersing ourselves in the stories of innovative organizations like yours. Our downloadable Thought Leadership Toolkit offers research-driven insights, feature articles, and recommended reading lists for companies looking to get started by learning more.

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