Did you know that Forbes.com has over 1500 unpaid contributors, many of them thought leaders in their fields? With more than 7000 posts per month, even the best ideas are in danger of getting lost amid all the noise! Here’s the sad truth. The world won’t come seeking your knowledge simply because you’re a smart person with great innovations. Successful thought leaders know how to stimulate demand for their knowledge, and they work on spreading the word every day using good, old-fashioned moxy and hustle.
The world might need your solution, but your buyers don’t know that.
Therefore, you must create demand for your content, generate awareness, and encourage interest in learning about your thought leadership. Sure, someone might stumble on your content while mindlessly scrolling through their social media feed, but that’s like waiting for lighting to strike. It’s a terrible way to build a business. You need to up the odds, and to do that, you need to routinely put great content in front of the people to whom it will be most relevant.
Who are the right people?
Well, first, do your homework and understand your prospective buyers; the people you should be targeting with your online content. They’re the ones who will be interested in what you say, because they actually have a problem that you can help them solve. Once you’ve identified that audience, you need to find clever ways to get content in front of them. When leaders are sorting through content, they’re really asking, “Would this help solve my problem? Is this something my organization really needs to focus on?” Your content needs to answer those questions in a concise, meaningful, and memorable way.
Here’s the challenge.
There’s a huge demand for good ideas, and your thought leadership is just one of many voices. How are people going to find you? In order to be relevant and gain followers, you need to narrow your focus. You either have to tightly define your content, your audience, or the situation that your thought leadership addresses. It may be leadership for a certain size of company, or leadership within a certain industry, or leadership in this context or that context. The strongest way to find success is by making your thought leadership relevant to a smaller and more targeted population. One that has specific needs and priorities that you can address.
For a thought leader to build demand, you have to tell a good story, explain your platform, and you’re your fans. You need to locate and target the people who most care about your solutions and have the capacity to buy-in to your innovations. You have to understand their problems, know what they lose sleep over, and have answers to the issues they want to solve. Your audience can’t come to you if they don’t know you’re out there – and if you don’t cut through the noise, they’ll never hear your voice.
So have great ideas, and propose innovative solutions. But be sure you do it to a tightly focused, thoroughly understood audience, and communicate your thought leadership in a way they will understand, remember, and get excited about hearing more.