So you heard a seminar on thought leadership marketing and thought, “We should do that.” You brought it back to your management team and they agree: you should do that. You read about all the new ways to do content marketing and you keep seeing thought leadership as a concept coming up in the articles. You think, “I’m so glad we’re gonna do that.”
But how do you do that?
“Thought leadership” is a hot buzz phrase in marketing. Everyone wants to do it, but not everyone will succeed in doing it, largely because they won’t know how to implement it.
Thought leadership is a giant monster with a strategy of its own, but to get started, you should first put together your thought leadership committee. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you begin:
1. What Thought Space Are You Leading?
In order to “do” thought leadership, you have to, you know, lead thoughts. This means your organization must decide which space they are experts in before your thought leadership can go anywhere.
This will be simple for some businesses, as they are dialed in to one specific thing, such as a specific industry or vertical. For full-service agencies, this will be a little tougher, as they “specialize” in a variety of things.
Look around your organization: has anyone in your company spoken at a conference recently? What did they talk about? What do your clients want to hear? Sometimes these things will be apparent, but sometimes you will have to go digging.
2. Who Are Your Leaders?
The next step in this process is to identify the people who will be on your committee. These are the people in your organization who are ahead of the curve on the subjects in which you wish to lead.
You’ll also be able to tell who your leaders are based on what their schedules look like. Are they flying off to conferences constantly, or being asked to speak at everything from local workshops to national and international seminars? If a department has a problem, question, or concern on a subject, is their opinion the one everyone wants? If that’s the case, you’ve likely found your thought leader.
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There will probably be more than one of these people in your organization, and it’s important that each one has an opportunity to sit at the table—when you have multiple thought leaders on your committee, your thought leadership will gain more exposure.
3. Who Is Your Project Manager?
This person might be you if the thought leadership marketing strategy is your undertaking. This means that you have to manage all the moving parts, including your thought leaders and the people churning out their thought-leading content. It also means that you have to be the person to invite these professionals to become thought leaders on your committee.
But how? Make it about what they’ll get from the committee, not what you’ll get from them. Remember that these people are busy—they’re leaders—so think about what they will need from you. Because they are so busy, they will need the writing or editing support from the content members of the committee.
They’ll also want the recognition and exposure that comes with being a thought leader. This will come from your social media committee members, as they push out and promote the thought leadership pieces from these professionals.
Keep in mind that if you are selecting someone to be the project manager, you will want to pick this person carefully. This person will need to be an effective team leader, easy to talk to, willing to get their hands dirty, and highly organized.
4. Who Are Your Other Team Members?
You will also need players to support the thought leaders: a content marketer/writer to help write and edit the thought leadership pieces, a social media professional to push the pieces out to the social networks, and perhaps a graphic designer to make the accompanying graphics for the thought leadership pieces.
You will want to select people who understand their purpose in the thought leadership pieces, the voice they bring to the pieces, and the goals resulting from making these pieces public. You will likely also want a main editor or strategist to put together a schedule of thought leadership content and subject matter, managing the content process from start to finish.
5. What Do You Want to Say and When Do You Want to Say It?
The final piece to this process, after you’ve put your committee together, is to sit down with the main players and have a brainstorming meeting.
Don’t hold a meeting without an agenda or structure. Remember that all of you are busy people, especially your thought leaders. In advance of the meeting, ask for everyone to bring two or three ideas for thought leadership pieces that fall within their expertise. Have them present those ideas at the meeting, knock them around, and see what other ideas you can shake out of those original ones.
At the end of it, your editor should have a calendar put together around thought leadership pieces, or at least the great beginnings of one!
Thought leadership marketing doesn’t have to be nebulous. By putting together your committee, assigning roles to each of your members, and adhering to a structure and process that your team sets based on what is best for them, you can at least get the ball rolling.
Remember that it often takes time to be considered a thought leader, but by beginning this way, you are setting yourself up for success down the road!
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