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:

  • Gaining credibility and audience’s trust
  • Establishing itself as an expert in the public’s eyes
  • Sharing your professional life journey and experiences
  • Getting self-sustained publicity
  • Growing sales

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.

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

1. Join Online Conversations

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.

Julia Koh

She breaks down the process of building thought authority into these four steps:

  1. Define your area of expertise
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Create high-value content
  4. Connect and engage
“Once you’ve determined your brand purpose, think of what differentiates you from the competition, to clarify your specialty.” asserts Koh. “Assess your brand and ask yourself: What am I passionate about? Why did I start this business? What changes do I want to bring to the world?”

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

  • Blogs
  • Brief webinar insights
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • And other channels

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.

Concludes Koh:

“Maintaining an active social presence projects your personality and effectively engages [audiences] with your helpful ideas and messages. Most often overlooked, Linkedin is actually the most effective platform for building thought authority versus other social media.”

Following these guidelines will further help you do it right and finalize your thought authority creation process:

  • Optimize your customer profile
  • Seed your network
  • Consistently contribute valuable content
  • Actively listen and engage with your customers and prospects

2. Be True To Your Brand

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.”

Brianne Murphy Miller

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:

  1. Start with your own brand
  2. Create a content calendar
  3. Be careful when commenting on trends
  4. Decide where your content will live
  5. Nurture your audience on the right channels

By “starting with your brand”, Miller refers to asking yourself these two crucial questions:

  • What are your brand attributes and keywords?
  • Are you commenting on serious policy topics, taking a stand on social change or supporting a corporate social responsibility program?
“Knowing your voice and honing a tonality that reflects your brand is vital,” says Miller, “This is the time to create balanced and business-like content.”

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.

“Post on social channels where your audience lives. Are you a B2B company? LinkedIn and Twitter might be the most important social channels, but don’t forget about byline article opportunities in trade publications. More of a consumer audience? Segment by age/demographic. Start small and pick a few channels to really nurture.”

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.

“Build slowly and steadily by providing tips, predictions, ideas and inspiration to your audience. Authenticity always wins the day.”

3. Create Unique Customer Experience

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.

Edin Halilović

“Working with over 500 companies and implementing content marketing as a part of inbound marketing through our clients’ but also through our own advertising strategy, we realized that followers became completely immune to “buy now at an incredible price” type of ads. They want quality content, which is interesting, relevant and up-to-date,” says Halilović.

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:

  1. Start with a blog
  2. Give your best advice for free (yes, for free)
  3. Tap into video content
  4. Bind it all with compelling storytelling

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.

“If you’re active on social media you’ve almost certainly stumbled upon an article about the M-sense Migraine App that called out Facebook for using their logo. They just took the advantage of newsjacking in a brilliant way, making millions of people hear about their company overnight,” points out Halilović.

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.

“If, on the other hand, you tell the story of a purple cow named Milka grazing grass on the Alps and create an entire marketing strategy around that story, you have done something that set you apart and that you will be remembered for,” explains Halilović.

His final advice? Shift your focus from products/services to the consumer experience.

“The best way to do that is to find the perfect mix of ingredients for your content marketing strategy. And don't forget, patience is bitter, but it bears sweet fruit.”
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4. Be Visible And Accessible

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.”

Karin Lohitnavy

In order to garner new clients more effectively and do more business with existing clients, Lohitnavy suggests taking this route:

  1. Boost your online visibility
  2. Make yourself accessible
  3. Collaborate with influencers
  4. Start the conversation
“To become a thought leader, you need to be more visible amongst your industry and target audience. It not only increases your credibility but also makes it easier for everyone to find you,” says Lohitnavy - and it stands to reason that you need more visibility to get anywhere.

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.

“Make sure you are always available for any questions they have as it will allow you to further develop your relationships with them. Additionally, you can also inform them that you are always open for a quote.”

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.

Lohitnavy remarks that “if you express your views strongly, it will result in a stronger reaction from the audience especially if what you say results in high engagement then you will be able to learn more about the needs of your target audience.”

5. Create A Holistic Brand Ecosystem

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.

Bongani Nombamba

“By earning third-party media validation through effective media relations, and by leveraging your own platforms to establish your expertise and provide value for clients, organizations can build meaningful connections with consumers and create a loyal fanbase that will keep coming back for more,” says Nombamba.

His agency’s top tips for implementing an effective thought authority strategy are:

  1. Content is king
  2. Create a holistic brand ecosystem
  3. Consult the professionals

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

  • Who your audience is
  • What their interests and pain points are
  • What solutions and advice you can offer them
  • How your content will support your business goals
  • What key messages you should emphasize
“Place the needs of your audience first,” says Nombamba. “Share educational, interesting, and entertaining content that will engage and resonate with your consumers, converting casual browsers into a strong community of brand enthusiasts.”

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.

“By putting the needs of your audience first, and providing free value through high-quality and informative content, your brand will stand out from the crowd. Surprise and delight your consumers, and you’ll keep them hooked."

6. Host Webinars And Podcasts

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.

Gaurav Sharma

His agency’s recommendations are:

  1. Launch a webinar or podcast to build your audience steadily and establish yourself as a thought leader
  2. Give interviews and expert quotes to popular websites in your niche to further boost your authority
  3. Get featured as a guest speaker in other popular webinars and podcasts in your niche

Sharma asserts that, with webinars and podcasts, you achieve a triple benefit simultaneously:

  • Showcasing your knowledge
  • Helping your audience on key issues
  • Educating your audience
“The more useful your audience finds your content, the more they would want to explore your website and other resources. Combine that with the power of interviews and you’ve got yourself a winning strategy to build industry authority,” says Sharma.

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.

Thought Authority Is Not Built In A Day

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.

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