what is thought leadership?
Thought leaders are those who are subject matter experts. They cross the line of being opinion leaders as they help diffuse innovations, ideas and commercial products to a wider audience. The term thought leadership has become very popular in marketing since the 1990’s and has increased in popularity with the rise of social media, where these subject matter experts have a platform to communicate to an increased number of people.
why is thought leadership important?
With the rise of social media, this has given people the opportunity to share their message and build up loyal followings. Content creators on the internet who write blogs and ebooks, record podcasts, shoot and edit videos are becoming the go-to people for information. Thought leadership is an important consideration for business owners and directors who want to stand out from the competition and be known for being a trusted source of information for their subject matter.
how can I apply thought leadership to my business?
We have created a mental model for thought leadership that can help you to become a thought leader. This mental model has been developed by the team at bmicro and is rooted in the theory of semantic search. This mental model can also help you create a content marketing strategy and as a byproduct of that, improved search engine performance.
Below is an example of the mental model for thought leadership applied to marketing, with numbers 1-4 being core subjects and 1.1-4.2 being sub subjects.
1. Marketing (Core Subject)
To become a thought leader in marketing, it’s important to understand what subjects are interconnected with marketing and how learning other related subjects and disciplines can increase marketing expertise.
1.1 Business Management
For marketing to be effective and sustainable, it requires processes and structures that fit into the overall business objectives. Understanding business management practices will help with this.
1.2 Human Resources
If you’re working in a team and looking for high employee engagement and an improvement to your employer brand, then an understanding of human resources will likely become of use.
2. Psychology (Core Subject)
Directly opposite marketing, an interlinked subject such as psychology can teach you a lot about how people behave, their motivations and how well they receive certain types of communication.
A lot of how people behave can be in the study of behavioural economics. It’s also helpful to understand the industry and related industries that you’ll be marketing so that you can anticipate trends like an investor would.
With people inherently being lazy, being able to design for comfort and ease is not something to take lightly. If you are marketing a product, you want to design an experience that they will value and want to share. Learning design principles; graphic design and user experience can go a long way in improving communication and engagement.
3. Science (Core Subject)
Marketing is known for being a science and an art. The scientific elements happen when experimenting and testing marketing strategies to see which give you the best return on your investment and the methods you use to find out this information. Being able to calculate metrics such as CLV (customer lifetime value) and CAC (customer acquisition cost) can require mathematical application.
Marketing technology has risen with the popularity of social media and the widespread adoption of the internet and smartphones/tablets. Being able to understand what technology is available to marketers will help you decide on marketing channels and strategies. It will also help communicate to the more technically minded folk such as developers and programmers you’ll most likely interact with.
A branch of neuroscience is neuromarketing, this subject helps with understanding more about the consumers of marketing and what their response to a marketing stimuli is likely to be. Closely linked to psychology but with more a biological focus on how the brain works.
4. Art (Core Subject)
The idea of branding, creative and design can all be reflected in the art of marketing. To help create demand and interest, marketing has to be interesting and intriguing enough for people to take action and be curious to find out more.
Being able to understand the culture of the market you’re targeting and the people you want to attract is crucial for a successful marketing campaign. Knowing the culture can seem like a minor detail at times but it’s the minor details that can set you apart from others.
Numbers and information without context is meaningless. The rise of big data has created opportunities for marketers to analyse data to be able to provide meaningful insights that can be used in marketing campaigns.
where can I find out more about thought leadership?
If you’re looking to become a subject matter expert, start following and reading blogs from current thought leaders in your space. Use the mental model for thought leadership to plot what subjects are core to your overall subject matter and go from there!
To become a thought leader you have to put in your 10,000 hours, research current thought leaders and experts outside of your core subject and over time this learning will strengthen your expertise in your subject.