Reasons to become a thought leader as a startup or a scale-up

Establishing yourself as a thought leader can be of great help for any startup or scaleup that wants to differentiate itself from competitors. To help you get a better understanding of the importance of thought leadership, we’ve brought together its key assets, which you can find in this article.

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Thought leadership fosters trustworthiness​

When building your reputation as an expert in your field, consider leveraging your opinion as an individual/representative of a company to carry greater weight and boost your influence across the industry.

As a thought leader, you position yourself as someone who profoundly understands the industry, business, the needs of its audience and the broader marketplace. With more than 83% of actual buyers believing thought leadership builds trust in the organization, using this strategy can be very valuable for your startup or scaleup.

Besides making an impact on your audience and making them more likely to choose you over your competitor, being a thought leader also helps earn respect from other experts in the field. According to Edelman, 90% of C-Suite executives referred to strong leadership as an element that increases their respect and admiration for an organization. Just take a look at one of the most influential thought leaders, the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates. Although he is world-wide famous, he still regularly posts content on his LinkedIn feed, sharing quality content that inspires not only tech enthusiasts, but people worldwide.

Thought leadership can bring your scaleup or startup great benefits and leverage your presence onto the next level but when getting your content out there, always keep in mind your customers. Is your content aligned with what you stand for? Could you lose clients for a particular stance or statement you make, or will this further bolster your reputation? Asking yourself these questions can help pick the right communication style that will positively influence your audience, and avoid any backlashes.

Today, we often see many companies resharing a third party’s content, with no personal input.

As a thought leader, you have better chances to build a larger portfolio that can help you differentiate yourself from competitors and present you as the industry influencer. Your varied portfolio, in this case, portrays your unique perspective and position you as a leader, rather than a follower.

Thought leadership improves your PR & visibility​

If you’re successful with your thought leadership strategy, many will be interested in hearing your opinion, and will enthusiastically follow the content you share. Whether it is blogs, guest articles or podcasts, such pieces of content can provide you with a pool of potential business leads, raise awareness about your brand, but also create a positive brand image. Such consistency can moreover increase your exposure and help reach out to new and existing audiences.

Besides the aforementioned pieces of content, a useful format that efficiently reflects thought leadership is an industry report. Forecasting developments within a specific industry, the report can offer extra value for your customers, help back up your product statements, and be used as a unique sale asset. Read more about its benefits here.

Being a thought leader can greatly increase the number of PR opportunities you receive. As an established influencer, your visibility and authority grow organically as more reporters and media contacts reach out to seek your opinion. With the right endorsement, not only can you receive more news coverage, but it will also be easier to reach out to reporters for speaking/writing opportunities, as you will become their go-to resource.

Diving deeper in the concept of thought leadership, two different approaches to the concept are being recognized:

  • Strategic-driven thought leadership: common among traditional consulting firms such as McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group, this form of leadership implies a strong business rationale. To position themselves as trusted voices on complex issues that matter to them, advocates of this approach share their intellectual ideas and new insights in whitepapers or through other media. As a knowledgeable authority, their focus is on strong positioning and competitive advantage.
  • Transformation-driven thought leadership: advocates of this form of leadership focus on shifting paradigms and contributing to societal transitions. They believe in novel, unconventional ideas that will change the future and are highly-driven in leading this change. A good example of a transformation-driven thought leader is the electric car manufacturer Tesla. Despite petrol being the primary fuel, the company seeks to establish a future where everyone can drive low-cost electric automobiles.

With this in mind, you should look for a balance between strategic and transformation objectives in your thought leadership as it will ideally blend your authority with today’s transformative landscape.

Thought leadership increases sales and opportunities​

As a startup or scaleup, it may be challenging to share your views on a specific topic as your visibility may be smaller compared to the industry’s biggest players.

As 81.5 percent of firms receive referrals from people they have not worked directly, this helps understand how important it is to get your content out there. If, in this position, you decide for thought leadership, it could greatly increase opportunities for creating content that will help build a good reputation and make you a desirable partner.

But what activities are thought leaders involved in? Opportunities vary, but many of them include invitations to speak at events, interviews, podcasts, guest blogs and more. Besides these, as a renowned thought leader, you have access to a broader network of people and events that may otherwise be out of your reach. As a new player in the field, by participating in the conversation, you can build a platform of connections that will facilitate the formation of collaborations and partnerships, a common challenge many new companies face.

The use of thought leadership can also help startups and scaleups increase their sales. According to research done by the Hinge Research Institute, C-suite executives are willing to pay the highest-profile leaders over 14 times more than a standard professional, further emphasizing benefits of such a strategy. Moreover, almost 60% of business decision makers said thought leadership can directly lead to closed-won deals and that it convinced them to buy a product or service they were not thinking about before.

Being a thought leader, especially in a vulnerable stage as a startup or scale-up, can indeed bring you many benefits. Get in touch with PRLab’s team who is helping some of the most promising startups and scale-ups to boost their thought leadership efforts.

Published: 17/02/2020