The Business Case for Thought Leadership Marketing

Thought leadership is often seen as an intellectual exercise. Something that’s ‘nice to do,’ but not a revenue generator or central to core business strategy.

Yet, when approached strategically, thought leadership marketing can serve as the foundation of your brand and a key driver of new sales. Thought leadership marketing helps companies enter new markets and dominate a niche or industry, earn industry prominence, attract media coverage, speaking engagements, book deals and even investor funding.

Best of all, thought leadership marketing can help you attract high-end opportunities by leveraging the expertise you already have.

Generate Higher Quality Leads and Sales

Thought leadership works because it carries over to your companies products and services. This explains why thought leaders tend to attract better quality leads, command higher fees and close more sales. Prospects seek out and buy from those who’ve achieved a credible industry reputation.

Need proof? Consider conferences where industry experts are regularly invited as keynote speakers and panelists. Not only do speakers enjoy invaluable publicity leading up to the event (which further cements their thought leader reputations), they attract prospects to their talks. When they’re finished, audience members line up to hand over their business cards.

Cut Through the Clutter with Real Expertise

In our ever noisier world, everyone is talking. Websites, blogs and social media have given everyone a megaphone. Thought leadership marketing helps you rise above the noise by demonstrating not only your expertise, but others’ validation of your expertise.

Real expertise is demonstrated by more than social media activities, blogging or content marketing. Thought leaders realize that earned media coverage, public speaking, publishing articles and publishing traditional books are part of the equation.

Demonstrating real expertise requires work. This explains why many of your companies never get around to it. It also provides opportunities for your firm to step up, elevate your industry positioning ahead of your less prominent competitors.

The Media Will Call You

Thought leaders magnetically attract media opportunities that give them free, valuable exposure. National newspapers, magazines and top websites and bloggers regularly seek thought leaders. This works because they rely on the tips, inside knowledge and story ideas from subject matter experts.

When the media call you, and you become a partner in the newsmaking process, the free exposure is only one benefit. Often, the credibility provided by article reprints, guest blog posts and expert interviews give your website more credibility and, when used in your marketing and sales materials, carry far more weight than any self-created marketing piece.

Boost Your Online Findability

Content may be the currency of the web, but not all content is created equal. Increasingly, search engine optimization rests on creating “valuable content” to push your website to the top of the search results.

Google’s recent search algorithm updates have dramatically changed the rules of SEO, rewarding higher quality content with better search rankings. What constitutes quality content? According to Google, some indicators include:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?

  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?

  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Thought leadership is fast becoming the only real strategy for boosting online findability. As you articulate your expertise, you’ll gradually attract links to your website from high quality sites in your industry. The more websites reference your work, the more a cumulative effect occurs as others share your content.

Work and Persistence

Thought leadership doesn’t happen overnight. It requires work and a commitment. Thought leadership marketing is most effective when it becomes part of the essential fabric of a company.

Start by taking a good look at your target market. Identify the point on the horizon where your want to take your firm. Your thought leadership efforts should ultimately position your firm as a resource within your target market based on your key competitive advantages.

Never forget that thought leadership activities such as speaking, publicity and writing articles often take time to produce results. Some activities may show quick ROI, while others may indirectly boost your credibility in ways that attract high-end clients, new opportunities or more referrals.

Syndicating Articles Online

In 1999, I wrote an article for, a popular website for solo professionals, about how to publish articles as a marketing strategy. Almost immediately after it appeared, I landed a new client, was invited to submit two proposals, and added dozens of names to my mailing list. The article was later reprinted as a newsletter and included in a marketing kit. The article stayed on for several years, and the benefits continued to roll in. The most powerful testament to the effectiveness of syndicating my articles online came when a reader who later became a client requested a proposal from my company, even though her company had almost finalized a decision to hire a competitor.

Read moreSyndicating Articles Online