Is Thought Leadership Important?

For those competing in the B2B marketplace these days you know it is not always enough to just create a respected and reliable company. The customer decision making process typically involves many people and many levels of approval. It can help when customers and prospects are aware of your brand, your reputation and what you stand for as an organization. It can be a key point of differentiation, something that sets you apart in a crowded field.

thought leadership lowOne effective strategy to achieve this is developing and nurturing a voice as an industry thought leader.

We’ve been pursuing a thought leadership direction in the hardwood lumber industry for some time and have benefited from a few best practices that were shared with us along the way.

Have a clear goal and purpose. Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen by accident. Leaders looking to extend their influence must first determine what they want to achieve—be it greater personal recognition, broader awareness of their brand, and/or a sincere desire to help others become better at what they do. Understanding one’s purpose helps craft a strategy that leads towards success as a thought leader.

Speak in a voice that’s uniquely your own. Thought leaders don’t all sound alike—or they wouldn’t attract the audiences they do. When they share their insights on social media or in the press, they need to speak in a unique voice, with powerful ideas that are unmistakably their own.

It is helpful to stay grounded in the industry you are expert in, (for us that means sawmills, hardwood lumber, forest products, custom grades, etc.), and relate your experiences to business theories at large and reflect on your values and mission while being authentic at all times.

Generate content of value. Thought leaders know how to communicate. Sometimes this takes the form of public speaking at, say, a TED Talk. More commonly, it involves shaping one’s thoughts in the form of compelling written content—blog posts, articles, other types of specialized content. When your content offers genuine value and helps others become better at what they do, you’re simultaneously establishing credibility and building trust—qualities of inestimable value in any professional circle.

The best thought leaders share content based on what they’ve learned over the years, and express that knowledge in clear, concise prose their audiences appreciate and understand.

Maintain an active social media presence. Many thought leaders have individual websites, though as a B2B leader, you can add your voice and expertise to your company’s site as well. Whatever the situation, thought leaders commit to actively participating on various social media platforms—sharing their own content, promoting content from other leaders, engaging in social media conversations and groups. They also stay alert to what’s being said about them online, not for reasons of ego, but to remain aware of how online mentions influence their brands.

“Google yourself often,” advices digital marketing consultant Nicolaos Moubayed. “See what comes up and how your market perceives your brand. This allows you to tweak and adjust your personal branding to fit the audience and market you’re talking to.”

Make yourself accessible. Again, not all business leaders feel comfortably going on camera or being interviewed by online business publications. But building a portfolio of such media engagements also bolsters one’s standing as a thought leader.

Becoming a thought leader isn’t for everyone. But gaining a reputation as an expert in your field inevitably helps strengthen your brand, and this can pay off in both customer retention and new customer acquisition for many businesses.

What other best practices can you share?

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber Co.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Related article:
What Is Thought Leadership and Why Do You Need It?
By Michael Brenner










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