How to become a thought leader – part 1 – deciding your objectives

Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field can have a huge impact on your ability to attract the attention of prospects and ultimately transition them into customers. In fact, our research found that 84 percent of senior IT security decision makers are more likely to work with a company that publishes thought leadership content over one that doesn’t.

Alongside creating strong content, it is also very beneficial to develop individuals within the company as thought leaders in their own right. Well established industry thought leaders can build a base of thousands of social media followers and draw large crowds as event speakers, creating a powerful platform for your brand. Building several spokespeople into thought leaders can be a huge boost for your visibility and reputation, especially if they manage to achieve the illusive status as an industry rock star.

However, becoming a trusted industry guru is not something that happens overnight. Developing a reputation as a real thought leader takes planning, time and dedication. In this multi-part series of blogs, we’ll be breaking down the steps needed to become a thought leader.

In part one, we’ll start with establishing a solid foundation for thought leadership activity by setting some tangible objectives.

It can be easy to get caught up in the tactical activity of thought leadership particularly if you hit on a clever idea for a campaign. However, you will see much more tangible results if everything is working towards a specific set of objectives.

Some common objectives for building an individual into thought leadership position include:

  • Generate media coverage –Developing individual spokespeople as thought leaders will boost your ability to secure everything from contributed bylines and commentary to appearances in national broadcast opportunities, helping you stand out from the crowd and increasing your share of voice. A well-established thought leader will even see journalists start seeking them out directly.
  • Differentiate your market position – In the packed cyber security market, becoming a bona fide thought leader will help your company to stand out from the crowd. Developing and owning particular viewpoints and insights will differentiate you from competitors Our research found that 74 percent of CISOs are willing to pay a premium for a company they consider to be a thought leader in their market.
  • Open doors to new prospects – Building a presence as an industry leader can help to boost your visibility with prospects, while offering valuable content such as industry research as a download can be a powerful way of capturing new lead information.
  • Shorten the sales cycle – Along with acquiring new leads, thought leadership can help to progress existing prospects. Sending over your latest content is a great way to jumpstart a conversation and move prospects through the sales funnel, whilst other types of thought leadership like webinars can help move prospects from awareness through to  We found 81 percent of CISOs believe thought leadership to be one of the best ways of getting a sense of a vendor’s capabilities.
  • Attract more talent – Many cyber security professionals are drawn to the prospect of working with an industry rock star, so a thought leader can lend a powerful boost to your recruitment efforts – ideal in the midst of the skills drought.  

Having a clear idea of your objectives before commencing on the route to building a thought leadership position will help to shape your campaign and keep it focused. It’s also essential to set benchmarks and measure whether you’re achieving your goals. Without defined objectives, activity such as media comments and social media posting can quickly devolve into busy work that is carried out without a clear outcome in mind.

A single piece of thought leadership content can generally meet multiple objectives as it is used in different ways – for example a new industry report could be offered as a free download to capture lead details, but also sent directly to existing prospects.  

Objectives should also be put in place when it comes to developing individuals as industry thought leaders, accommodating both the company’s goals and the milestones in developing their own personal brand. These could include increasing engagement on their personal social media feeds or appearing in a certain number of editorial articles.

Check back next week for part two of the series where we’ll be discussing how to find the ideal candidates to develop into thought leaders for your company.  

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