Blog
The Road To Thought Leadership: What It Takes
Ikeen Torres
Head of Strategy
16 Apr 21

Thought leadership is a common concept in digital marketing as it is one of the best ways to
build an audience around a brand. There is no formal induction to the “club” of thought leaders.
As soon as you build a good reputation within a specific industry by sharing valuable knowledge
and insights, you are in. But what are the elements of actually becoming one?

Experience and knowledge

Thought leaders are not only jammed with knowledge. Concepts around business, finance,
business development, blockchain, marketing, gastronomy and just about everything, can be
copied and innovated, a dime a dozen. So where can value be built?


It is when knowledge comes with experience. A 40-year veteran finish carpenter can easily talk
about how to soften the corners of wooden cabinets. Not just because he read it somewhere, it’s
because he did it a thousand times doing his job. The carpentry input becomes very valuable not
just for what he knows but his ability to expound on that single topic, like forever. That kind of
depth is what often defines thought leaders.


It is not just about an experience in the context of time

Okay, so you don’t need to clock decades of experience to qualify as a thought leader. That is not
the only way you can build online credibility. Oftentimes social proof can help you get the
attention you need to bridge that gap between your business and your audience. Just a few years
in the skip rope fitness industry and you can already provide relevant insights on gear, routines,
and best practices. This would be the same for other things as well like homesteading, wine
tasting, renewable energy and the list goes on and on. And this brings us to the next point:

It’s about telling a story

The narrative is often where value is perceived best. Thought leaders are good storytellers. They
can connect everyday things, put context into these random events and make it conceptually
palatable. They capitalise on ordinary happenings and make them into extraordinary lessons. So
it is not just technical carpentry or fitness-centric skip rope, it can be about how an obese, bullied
girl overcame her insecurities through jump rope. Or maybe how a college dropout decided to
learn carpentry and became a sought-after local contractor.

The story is what captures the imagination of the audience. But then heed this warning:

A-U-T-H-E-N-T-I-C-I-T-Y is how you spell success


If you want to be a thought leader, you need to be true to yourself. “Fake it ’til you make it”
doesn’t work here. You need to love the very thing you are talking about. There has to be an
undeniable passion because people are looking up to you. The Internet makes it easy to rally
attention and nurture a community but it also made it easy to check if you are true to what you
say. Thought leadership is a responsibility and this means consistency to what you say AND do.


So it is just not knowledge but experience. It is not just the length of time of doing something but
proof of skill and ability to deliver. It is not just expertise and social proof but also setting up a
narrative and it’s not just selling a story but also making sure you are real, you are speaking the
truth.

Are you planning to become a thought leader in your industry? Reach out to us and we can run a
digital marketing strategy that’s built on thought leadership.