Do you want to be a
thought leader?

We’ll just assume the answer is yes.

In the past, companies could get away with flying under the radar and growing their business by focusing simply on building the best product.

Today, that’s all changed. Good products are not enough. To really be successful, it takes a lot more.

You need customers to come to you.

You need investors to seek you out.

You want the top talent to come to you.

And to do this, you must become a thought leader.

Becoming a thought leader isn’t a choice.

It’s a must.

And when it comes to building thought leaders, that’s what we do.

Over the past 2 years, our machine has built over 80 thought leaders.

While securing media coverage for our clients is at the core of what we do, our multi-pronged strategy of content, new media, awards, conferences and public relations combines together to build a thought leadership machine..

Becoming a thought leader is a long process but it all starts with strategy.

Without a strategy, you’re better off not even wasting your time.

Our thought leadership machine centers around a 30+ page framework known as the Thought Leadership Machine.

This framework is based on extracting answers to highly targeted questions in order to get a clear understanding of what you truly want to be a thought leader in.

Want an inside look at the questions we ask to begin building strategy? Here you go!

10 Questions to Begin Building Your Thought Leadership Strategy: 

#1: What does success look like?

This is the most important question of all. What does success actually look like? Becoming an industry thought leader is challenging. It takes time, money and resources. It also comes with tremendous benefits but in order to be able to gauge what’s working, you need to be crystal clear on what you hope to achieve by becoming a thought leader in the first place.

#2: What’s the overall objective?

To answer this, it’s easiest to complete the following sentence:

(Your Company) is a thought leader in______________________________.

Here you want to get clear about what it is exactly that you want to be a thought leader in.

Executing on these strategies we outline, will end with you having ownership of whatever it is you set the direction for, so it’s very important you get this one right.

#3: What buzzwords are you involved in?

Here the goal is to map out all the possible buzzwords that relate to what you do. Why? First off, for research purposes, this allows you to search online and see what other stories in those buzzwords have been the most popular.

For example, in Buzzsumo, you can search “Bitcoin” and see the top socially shared stories.

Second, it allows you to build up your foundation media list. What’s that? The foundation list is simply the broad list you initial build of everyone who has ever written about the buzzwords you are involved in.

If someone has written about AI in the past, they are likely a good media prospect to reach out to if you’ve got a new AI startup.

#4: Customers hire you to solve what problem?

If companies investors were on calls and heard how many companies stumble their way through this one, that would not be happy, that’s for sure.

At the core of every business is a problem that needs to be solved.

Hopefully a big one. This question is meant to gather a high level overview of what exactly the problem is that’s being solved.

#5: What data or trends highlight the problem?

For this question, you want to list out all the datasets, trends and facts that relate to the problem that you solve.

You want this list to be as long as possible because journalists and readers like reading content about data with an interesting story.

These don’t have to even be your datasets, they can be datasets that were published before by someone else. You just want to collect them all in one place and have them ready to fire away whenever the media asks for them.

ACTION TIP: These datasets can also make for a great piece of Thought Leadership content to publish on your blog. What you want to do is build a list of 10 datasets then use those to create a piece of content that leverages these datasets to tell a story.

For example, if you work in the remittance industry with a product to reduce time and costs of money transfers. You would write a blog post that includes 10 datasets with a title such as: “10 Shocking Facts About the State of the Remittance Industry”.

#6: Who else is trying to solve the problem?

80% of the time we get to this question, we are told “I don’t have any competition, there is no one doing what we do”.

First off — if that’s the case, that’s probably not a good sign. Most great companies that have been built are not the first to try and solve a problem, they are just the best at solving it.

While they may not be solving the problem in the same way you are, it’s likely if you step away from the day to day grind, you’ll find there are in fact other companies trying to solve the problem.

Luckily, in this sense, competition is a good thing. Knowing who they are, even if they are different from you, you can see what they are doing and learn what’s working and what’s not.

If they are more established and have already gotten a lot of media attention, you can dig in and get an understanding of what they’ve done to get media, what types of strategies they’ve employed, and who has written about them.

You can then take this information and use it as you plan your thought leadership strategy.

#7: Who are your ideal customers?

Many times when we ask about buyer personas, we’re told they have them. When we dig in and research them however, we find out what they really are.

They are the standard buyer personas that so many companies and marketers use.

They are the buyer personas that tell you to put yourself into the customer’s mind. What do they watch? What do they read? How old are they? Married? Kids? The list of questions goes on.

The issue with this is that it’s all made up. Instead of trying to put yourself into your customer’s head, why not just go there?

We advise clients to speak directly with their customers, those they’ve won and lost and get a deep understanding of them. This allows you to develop a buyer persona that’s based on real information instead of being based on your thoughts and feelings.

The end goal of all of this, of course, is to ensure you have a clear idea of who you want to target so that you can make sure the overall strategy aligns with and connects with that target audience.

#8: What is your solution to their problem?

In #4, you listed out the problem you are solving, here you want to answer in detail the solution you’ve developed. This should be written in complete sentences and is basically your elevator pitch.

When answering this question, pretend that you have just gotten in the elevator with your dream client and they are telling you all about the problem they are experiencing — the problem you happen to solve!

With 2 minutes or less to go, what do you tell them?

How do you explain your solution?

#9: What are your core solution points?

In this question, you want to list out all your core solution points that you want to talk about over and over again. This could be your key benefits and features or just your core talking points about the solution you’ve developed.

#10: What are your dream headlines?

This ties back into #1 and is really all about casting a vision for what you want to achieve. While 99% of the time, the first answer is “(my company) acquired by Google for $1 Billion”, the further down you go, the more realistic and focused you get.

This is one of our favorite exercises because it helps you to really get an understanding of what that end goal will look like while also allowing you to self regulate knowing that some of the dream headlines, just won’t be realistic (at least for now).