What Interests You?
That’s Where Your Thought Leadership Should Begin.
To turn out consistent, original material, choose topics that matter to you and your customers.
Thought leadership has dual objectives: Education for those who consume it, and elevated status for the companies that create it. Too many companies emphasize the latter — and misfire on the former.
Leaders are never blasé, and you shouldn’t be either.
So commit to issues that matter to you and your customers. Don’t expect to have all the answers all at once. Like the best leadership examples, thought leadership is earned over time.
Start with a seed idea and build on it. The first step is participation. Get out there. Join online conversations. Attend conferences. Be part of the dialogue.
When you’re ready, step up your participation. Challenge assumptions. Publish white papers. Host webinars. Record podcasts. Frame issues in new ways. What issues will be affecting your customers in five years? Ten years?
The trick is to focus on topics that you care about because successful thought leadership is organic. It grows naturally from issues that matter to a company and its customers.
Here are three companies that turn out consistent, original material on topics that matter to them:
- Not only does healthcare IT provider Optum include a tab to its thought leadership right on its landing page, but it crams the section full of informative videos and podcasts in more than half a dozen categories.
Educational contribution: It serves as an expansive resource on important issues for its healthcare customers.
What’s in it for the company: Credibility as an expert in the wild and wooly healthcare marketplace.
- In addition to Fishbowl’s jam-packed online resources page, the software company’s top executives are prolific writers of small-business related blog posts for the likes of Forbes and HBR. CEO David K. Williams also authors business books. Fishbowl, an employee-owned software company in Utah, faces down the bad as well as the good: Williams spoke frankly to Inc.com for an article about Fishbowl’s near-death financing experience. That candor and Fishbowl’s extensive body of work is testimony to the company’s commitment to small business.
Educational contribution: Small-business knowhow from the trenches.
What’s in it for the company: The takeaway that running a small business takes smarts and passion — and Fishbowl has both.
- For its ongoing video series on design, Eastman Chemical has interviewed dozens of product designers. Its online site, the Eastman Innovation Lab, is a creatie execution of thought leadership out there.
Educational contribution: One-of-a-kind forum for industrial design innovation and ideas on creativity.
What’s in it for the company: Association with brand owners and the designers who spec its products.