A thought authority — an individual or a company recognized as a leading specialist in their area of expertise — is what every business strives to become over time.
It does come with significant benefits. For instance, 60% of business decision-makers say that they opted for a company’s services based on their thought authority.
There are plenty of perks to enjoy with a thought authority status, including:
In this article, six top-of-the-line agencies share their expert insights, advice and tips for building thought authority that lasts and yields measurable results.
From engaging meaningfully with your audience to sharing your most insightful content for free, these experts speak from their experience and let you in on their secrets that made them authorities in their own fields.
Julia Koh, Brand Strategist and Co-Founder of Brand360, declares that the power to influence which comes with gaining thought authority opens door to new opportunities.
She breaks down the process of building thought authority into these four steps:
The next step is to connect with the right people, interested in what you have to say.
The best way to do that? Create an ideal customer profile and “identify like-minded individuals through their common attributes, such as interests, pain points and needs.”
After establishing your audience, start creating original and shareable content. “When you establish a unique perspective that speaks to their pain points, this makes you a relatable source in your industry when they look for advice or guidance,” says Koh and adds that you can keep your followers updated with the latest relevant topics via
Be wary of one thing you should steer clear of: “Do note to avoid heavy self-promotional content; it could turn your audience off instead.”
Once you build your thought authority on your expertise, it’s crucial to join online conversations to enhance your credibility.
Following these guidelines will further help you do it right and finalize your thought authority creation process:
Brianne Murphy Miller, Business Development Manager at Landis Communications Inc, asserts that thought leadership is about “sharing information with an audience that’s actionable, useful and predictive.”
Take, for instance, the title such as “XYZ Furniture Company predicts convertible furniture sales rise by 20% in 2023.” This is intriguing, predictive content that will suggest you to the media for your expert commentary.
Miller’s step-by-step breakdown to becoming a voice that is heard and trusted is:
By “starting with your brand”, Miller refers to asking yourself these two crucial questions:
Next, you need a content calendar that follows the “don’t bite off more than you can chew” approach. “While content can certainly take advantage of breaking news or trends, having a regular cycle of output keeps your content team steady and creates audience expectations.”
Miller asserts that thought leaders get in trouble when they jump on a trend without thinking about the consequences of commenting. Posts on the internet live forever – an important thing to note when taking a stand on something.
You have your content – but where does it live? Your channels should ideally reach and integrate your target audience, according to Miller.
These social media channels should be used to engage your audience, while their DM options should be used sparingly with other thought leaders and media.
Lastly, Miller remarks that you should also embrace the authority-building powers of panel discussions and guest posts, for their sheer reach and visibility opportunities.
Edin Halilović, Lilium Digital Co-Founder and Business Development Manager, asserts that the starting point for building thought authority is in understanding the importance and benefits of organic content marketing.
He shares some tips of his own on becoming a thought authority in your field – and wants to remind you it won’t happen overnight:
Free sharing of unique know-how that took you long to acquire may seem counterintuitive and counter-effective. After all, you might fear that your potential clients will learn your craft this way and never come to you for assistance.
However, Halilović points out that the potential clients that read your free, insightful advice will instead get a clear vision of what you can do for their business even before they invest any money. When you provide such unique content to clients that are willing to invest in quality services and hire experts that do what they know best, sharing free insights is very beneficial.
“We are so confident in this approach that we even created our own Digital Marketing Academy through which you can learn how to do digital marketing on your own,” asserts Halilović.
And the best place to start with distributing your valuable knowledge is via blog articles. For this agency, several attractive blog topics per week distributed on their website, social media and newsletter get them new leads and potential clients daily.
Another “sneaky” method for getting your audience’s attention is newsjacking.
He goes on to say that video content, if done properly, is the most engaging type of content for the users – plus, social network algorithms increasingly favor video over other content types. There’s a great incentive to start investing in quality videos (how-tos, podcasts, myth-busting, etc.) in which you share your expertise. Also, give it a little boost with some paid advertising.
However, the key difference-maker for your thought authority building could be storytelling.
This is especially important in the age of saturated markets, where many companies offer products identical to their competitors’.
For example, if your company makes chocolate and you advertise it as using quality cow’s milk, you did the same as your competitors and didn’t position yourself uniquely in the minds of your consumers.
His final advice? Shift your focus from products/services to the consumer experience.
Karin Lohitnavy, Founder of Midas-PR, maintains that a thought leadership “implies exponential rewards — the ability to capitalize on the brand equity attained by being a thought leader through building respect, relationships and trust.”
In order to garner new clients more effectively and do more business with existing clients, Lohitnavy suggests taking this route:
But how to do it?
Simply put: get published online as often as you can. Develop a stream of regular content, collaborate with industry-specific blogs and be featured on influential platforms.
The consequence of becoming a known industry name is that the media will be asking you questions about ongoing trends and future predictions. This is when you should double your efforts to pitch yourself via emails, Tweets and put your story forward.
Collaborating with topic-relevant influencers is the next logical step. This is beneficial for both parties, as you mutually boost exposure through each other’s brands. Before shying away from this step, remember that you’re doing them a favor as much as they are to you.
Once your network increases, ramp up your potential to become a thought authority by starting the conversation.
After all, it is what being a thought leader is all about – driving conversation. By this point, your peers see you as an expert and want to know your views on the industry, so don’t hang back from speaking opportunities and starting a dialogue.
According to Bongani Nombamba, Digital Lead at PR Worx, audiences are consuming more content than ever before in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This notion is backed by the DoubleVerify and Sapio Research survey which found that audiences doubled the amount of content they consume daily in 2020.
His agency’s top tips for implementing an effective thought authority strategy are:
Maintaining a steady stream of high-quality content is vital for showcasing your organization’s depth and building credibility. A positive side-effect of updating consistently with a variety of ideas and topics is that you will drive online discoverability and SEO rankings by keeping CTRs high.
However, always be mindful of
The next step in building your thought authority is to make sure you do not neglect relevant platforms by building a holistic brand ecosystem to deliver content to your audience’s preferred platforms.
Don't forget to amplify your content and maximize its use. For example, if you’ve been interviewed for a radio show, share the audio clip on social media and let your audiences know via email newsletter.
Gaurav Sharma, Founder at Attrock, sees hosting a weekly webinar or podcast as a great and massively underused way to build thought leadership and authority in any niche.
His agency’s recommendations are:
Sharma asserts that, with webinars and podcasts, you achieve a triple benefit simultaneously:
And he has the case study and figures to back his claims! Attrock helped one of their clients launch a podcast that got over 307,000 downloads and ranked in the top 50 on iTunes.
On top of that, the agency arranged several high-profile industry interviews for the client as well as invites to be a guest on several webinars. The client got featured on over 150 authoritative websites like Forbes and Entrepreneur.
The result? In two years, the client’s website traffic increased from 82,000 monthly visitors to 167,000.
One thing that all of these six agencies have in common is that none of them built their thought authority overnight.
Patience, perseverance, trial & error are all essential to this often grueling but immensely rewarding process.
These thought leaders shared the key starting ingredients, but it will be up to you — based on your business’s specific strengths, issues and opportunities — to choose the path that will make you a specialist whom everyone in your industry wants to hear from.