Thought leadership marketing has emerged as one of the most powerful ways for brands to establish their authority and grow.

Many marketers use this marketing strategy to boost brand awareness, lead generation, and increase their market share.

Disclosure: This content may contain a few affiliate links, which means if you click on them, I will get a commission (without any extra cost to you).

But what exactly is thought leadership marketing?

Thought leaders are people who commands authority in a particular field owing to their knowledge, expertise, and point of view.

People take them seriously in matters pertaining to their areas of expertise. Their views, ideas, and opinions are sought after by many and people trust their advice.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, is considered a thought leader due to his futuristic new ideas on hyperloop transportation and plans to send humans to Mars.

His company is considered to be a pioneer in futuristic technologies. Thought leadership marketing has helped them build their reputation and credibility.

elon musk thought leadership marketing

Image via Forbes

I have personally built my personal brand as a thought leader in digital marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and business consulting.

My team and I have helped countless businesses increase revenue to $5 million+. We have been recognized as a Top Consulting Firm of 2019 by DesignRush.

You too can establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. If you can do it well enough, your customers and prospects will trust you immensely. This can help you market your brand effectively and grow by leaps and bounds.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how thought leadership marketing can help you take the next step and grow your brand recognition.

How to Become a Thought Leader

You can’t just become a thought leader overnight, out of nowhere. You need tons of credibility and a massive following to succeed at thought leadership marketing.

With traditional media before the digital era, you could establish yourself as a thought leader by creating white papers or writing books about your area of expertise.

With the advent of online and social media, you have more strategies at your disposal. You can leverage the power of thought leadership marketing using the content types you create.

Here are some ways you can establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry:

1. Build Your Reputation

Nothing is more important for thought leadership marketing than your trustworthiness and credibility. You need to build a solid reputation among your peers and in your industry.

One way you can do this is by sharing your ideas and experiences with your peers. Help them out in times of need.

These business leaders may be your competitors, but lending them a helping hand can help you build trust. Be authentic and genuine in your efforts.

2. Innovate

Be a pioneer of new ideas in your industry. It could be in the processes you use, the products or services you offer, or your organizational setup. Being an innovator lends credibility to your actions.

Elon Musk lent credibility to his thought leadership by making his cutting edge technology openly available.

3. Create Research Papers

Try to produce high-quality research papers or white papers related to your industry. These papers need to provide new insights on subject matter that can help your peers as well as your customers.

This is one of the best ways to work on your thought leadership marketing strategy.

4. Write Blogs Posts

Write a blog post on a regular basis. The subject matter in your blog posts should provide value to your readers. Write about topics relevant to your industry that are currently trending.

Dig deep and make sure that your facts are correct. You can influence others through the insights you share on these posts.

Provide a good volume of thought leadership content for your target audience to consume. You can even create ebooks, infographics, or conduct studies or surveys to add more credibility to your thought leadership content.

For example, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., regularly blogs about various issues. His writings often touch upon the core problems being faced by humanity.

virgin thought leadership marketing

Image via Virgin

5. Get Active on Social Media

Be active with your social media posts. Your presence and following on social media lends credibility to your thought leadership. So post your ideas and engage with your audience on social media.

ibm thought leadership marketing

Image via Instagram

Create a community of social media followers or join various communities. You can comment on diverse issues that you are passionate about.

Social media is a great way to showcase your authority as a subject matter expert and also build brand awareness through your marketing strategy.

6. Create Videos and Podcasts

Create valuable video thought leadership content and publish it on your website. These should provide value to your audience. Use your expertise to solve the common problems of your viewers.

Don’t forget to be creative while creating these videos. After all, good thought leadership content is a prerequisite for developing an effective thought leadership marketing strategy.

You could also start your own podcast. The ideas and insights you share in them can help to influence your audience. Try to include subject matter that’s relevant and insightful and be consistent in your approach.

Tony Robbins is a thought leader whose podcasts attract and engage millions.

tony robbins thought leadership marketing

Image via YouTube

7. Attend and Host Events

Attend public speaking events and share your thoughts. Be authentic in your discussions at these events.

These events provide ample scope to build connections with your peers. Publish press releases about these events for your audience to read.

You could also host events of your own. Invite your peers and other thought leaders from your industry and have them share their insights with your audience.

You could even broadcast them online to reach a wider audience. Don’t miss an opportunity to promote such marketing strategy events to grab as many eyeballs as you can.


8. Support Social Causes

You can become a thought leader by supporting various causes that affect humanity and addressing inequality in the status quo.

Showing genuine compassion and a desire to make the world better can help you earn the respect of millions. That can be an asset for your thought leadership marketing strategy.

Allocate funds towards corporate social responsibility (CSR). Make sure the work you do is visible to the public. It will portray your character and the values of your company.

Companies like Apple, IBM, and Walmart have taken a number of decisions to reduce the adverse effects of their products on the environment.

apple - thought leadership marketing

Image via Apple

Take a stance on issues that you believe in and share your point of view. It might make you unpopular among some people for a short period of time but stick to it.

In the long run, you will be vindicated. Taking a stance shows your courage and integrity – both of which can make people perceive your brand more favorably.

And thought leadership marketing is all about what others think of you and your brand.

9. Write a Book

Write a book about your field of expertise. Even in this digital era of social media, a book can get you considerable attention. A book exemplifies your expertise in your niche. It makes your ideas and views trustworthy.

For example, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella has established himself as a thought leader. He regularly blogs on various subjects and has also penned a book called “Hit Refresh.”

This is a great way to use his expertise to further his thought leadership marketing goals.

satya nadella - thought leadership marketing

Image via Amazon

Benefits of Thought Leadership Marketing

A thought leadership marketing strategy can benefit your brand in many different ways. Here are a few of them:

1. Boosts Brand Value

Thought leadership marketing can help you increase your brand’s value. This may not be your primary objective, however, the trust you gain will eventually help to boost brand value.

People will start to perceive you as an authoritative figure who knows their business, customers needs, and the industry well.

2. Helps to Attract Talent

Not just peers and customers, but the best minds in the industry too will be attracted towards your brand.

They will be eager to work with you to provide value to your customers. A highly talented team can take your business to greater heights.

3. Helps with Public Relations

With a thought leadership marketing strategy, you can get a good amount of exposure in the press. Your brand will get high visibility.

This can help you increase your customer base too. This translates to more sales and greater profits.

4. Helps to Optimize Marketing Budgets

Thought leadership marketing can help you optimize your budgets for brand building. You can cut down your spend on traditional marketing strategies.

In fact, a thought leadership marketing strategy can help you promote your brand to a wider audience in a cost-effective manner. A positive word-of-mouth can help your brand reach newer heights.

5. Boosts Business Opportunities

Thought leadership can bring in unexpected opportunities for business development. When more people search for and recognize your brand globally, you can expand your business in other countries easily.

6. Increases Sales

A good brand reputation will make your prospects trust you which can lead to an increase in your sales. The credibility you gain through your thought leadership strategy will make your brand easily recognizable.

Things to Consider in Thought Leadership Marketing

Thought leadership marketing is not an easy task. To establish yourself as a thought leader, you need to assess yourself first. These are some of the factors you need to consider:

1. Time

To establish your company as a thought leader, the most important thing you need to consider is time. You need to put a lot of time to build your reputation. You must prepare yourself mentally for this.

Know that you can’t become an expert overnight. Your thought leadership marketing efforts will take a while before they start yielding any results.

2. Patience

Patience is important if you expect fruitful results through thought leadership marketing. It takes years to gain considerable attention and influence. Without patience, you may falter and do a disservice to your cause.

3. Honesty

In order to gain the trust of your audience, you need to be honest with them. Honesty in your acts, deeds, opinions, and truth in the thought leadership content you share will lend you credibility and authority.

How to Start with Thought Leadership Marketing

After considering all of the aspects mentioned above, you may have decided to establish your company as a thought leader. Here are some ways you can start doing so.

1. Create a thought leadership Content Strategy

The very first step in thought leadership marketing is to have an effective content strategy in place. You must have a clear plan about the type of thought leadership content you will publish online and on social media.

You must also think about how often you are going to publish thought leadership content and on which channels.

2. Build a Team

If you are not in a position to manage thought leadership marketing alone, appoint a person or a team within your company to do it.

They can be a marketing expert, graphic designer, or any other employee who has the skills and passion required for the job. Hire an expert team of content writers and post articles written by them on your blog or website.

3. Leverage Influencers

While it may seem counter-productive, leveraging influencers can accelerate your thought leadership strategy.

Partnering with influencers in your niche can help you gain more credibility and reach out to a broader audience.

Ask them to promote your brand on their blogs and social media networks or write guest posts on their websites. All of these efforts will help you grab more eyeballs and build your reputation quicker.


Q1. What is thought leadership in marketing?

A. Thought leadership is influencing public opinion by virtue of one’s expertise and knowledge.

Thought leaders are people who create a sustaining impression in the minds of their target market by projecting a standout perspective on topics of interest. They shape the future of their industries and foment change.

Q2. Give a thought leadership example?

A. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are excellent examples of thought leaders. Though possessing divergent perspectives on personal computing, the rivals command great respect and authority in their industry.

These leaders predicted changes in computing when others couldn’t fathom them. While one was a proponent of closed computing, the other chose to support open computing.

History proves that there is scope for both formats and that’s why both these visionaries have millions of ardent fans and followers.

Q3. What is the difference between thought leadership marketing and advertising?

A. Thought leadership marketing differs from advertising in two main ways.

One, thought leaders are established entities who have demonstrable experience and credentials in their field of work.

Unlike advertising, the products/people being promoted in thought leadership marketing already enjoy goodwill and authority in the market.

Two, thought leadership marketing can be done through both organic and paid channels. Advertising, on the other hand, is always paid.

If thought leaders hire influencers to spread awareness about their body of work, they pay influencers to create sponsored campaigns and content for them.

So, when it comes to marketing costs, thought leadership marketing is more pocket-friendly than advertising.

Q4. What trends are you seeing in thought leadership?

A. The top trends in the thought leadership marketing space are:

  • Neuromarketing
  • Lifecycle marketing
  • More rigorous metric tracking
  • Focus on content design and packaging
  • Perpetual “listening” to the target audience needs

Q5. How does content marketing differ from thought leadership?

A. The top 4 differences between thought leadership and content marketing are:

  • Thought leadership is a peer-to-peer communication method, while content marketing is essentially top-down.
  • In content marketing, the commodity being sold is value; it’s quality of thinking in thought leadership.
  • Compared to content marketing, thought leadership fits higher in the sales funnel. It is more of a ToFU (top of the funnel) tactic.
  • Thought leadership marketing is limited to offsite placement, typically as author bylines or cited sources. Content marketing takes center-stage with blog posts and other content assets being created for the sole purpose of promotion.

Q6. Why are thought leaders important for an organization?

A. Thought leaders can offer many benefits to organizations, including:

  • They boost brand value and authority.
  • They help attract quality talent.
  • They help accelerate public relations efforts.
  • They help optimize marketing spend.
  • They expand business opportunities.
  • They help multiply revenue and sales.

Q7. How do you become a thought leader?

A. To become a thought leader, here is a roadmap you need to follow:

Step 1: Formulate content for your leadership strategy. Identify your target audience, platforms, and unique value proposition.

Based on that, decide on the kinds of content you will create. Plus, identify the KPIs and metrics to track in order to evaluate your leadership strategy.

Step 2: The next step is to put together a competent marketing team. You will need content strategists, writers, SEO experts, and PR pros to handle all aspects of your marketing.

Step 3: Leverage influencers. You will need to collaborate with well-matched influencers to boost your awareness and build relationships with your target audience.

This can be done if influencers write sponsored posts, reviews, and recommendations for you.

Q8. Who are the best thought leaders?

  • Teresa M. Amabile, Professor of Business Administration, HBS
  • Bob Burg, well-known author and speaker
  • Clayton Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma”
  • Lee Cockerell, former VP, Walt Disney World
  • Cheryl Snapp Conner, PR and Communications Expert
  • Lolly Daskal, leadership expert

Q9. What are five things that thought leaders do every day?

A. Five qualities/habits of successful thought leaders include:

  • They have an open mind. They don’t judge and react prematurely.
  • They balance fluidity with resilience. They are flexible to change yet set in their ways.
  • They are passionate readers and learners. They never stop growing and evolving.
  • They initiate change. They disrupt existing landscapes with radical thinking.
  • They plan with the end in mind.

Ready to Rock Your Thought Leadership Marketing?

Thought leadership marketing strategies provide an excellent opportunity to market your brand in this digital era. By putting in some time and effort, you can achieve success.

Follow the above-mentioned strategies to establish your brand as a thought leader and grow exponentially.

Can you think of any other ways to do thought leadership marketing? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Grеetings! Very uѕeful advice within tһіѕ article!
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    Tһanks a lot for sharing!

  2. Aaron Vick says:

    Good piece of information.

  3. Romeo Schwaderer says:

    Wow, this article is nice.

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