Why your company needs its own thought leaders

Why your company needs its own thought leaders 

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a critical piece of the communications and marketing strategy for many firms, and yet often remains so mysteriously absent among SMEs.

Author: Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director, Sherpa Communications 

Knowledge is the cornerstone of any firm – whether in financial analysis, HR, business development and growth, talent acquisition or technology – and it’s that niche influence and expertise derived from the knowledge that the business model is built on. Thought leadership across any business involves a thorough understanding of industry best practices and is ideally already part of a strategic business model. The fresh, insightful perspective to a common issue or an emerging trend is an essential attribute of a thought-leader. That’s why thought leadership is a critical piece of the communications and marketing strategy for many firms and yet often remains so mysteriously absent in the mix of small-to-medium size firms.

The building of credibility often involves more than just one aspect of personal branding. As with any successful campaign, thought leadership status cannot be achieved in a day and takes time, patience and hard work. Today’s successful thought-leaders understand that an efficient system is necessary to run effective campaigns.

Most thought leaders are change agents, who speak authoritatively about a cause they care about. They engage with stakeholders and followers so that together they can bring long-term sustainable change.

Every industry is evolving — some faster than others — and as a thought leader, you'll need to stay on top of what's happening, so you can share and comment on trends. There are three distinct levels of visible thought leadership, and each level has increasing and measurable levels of influence and impact: 

  • The Resident Experts/Local heroes – are individuals recognised in their local market or small industry niche; these individuals are well known in their organisation and across the boundaries of their own firms. Such a spokesperson should step up and offer valuable insights across the area of his/her expertise. It is essential for these thought-leaders to leverage the power of content and be out there with tips, advice, videos, blogs to build their community and engage with their target audience. Additionally, they could also share their business acumen through media interviews or webinars in association with relevant entities, participate in panel discussions, or list themselves as a business mentor at various incubators and accelerators functional in the UAE. 

  • The Rising Stars – are influential individuals recognized in their own industries, who draw up opportunities to their firm. They are often quoted in the press and are sought out as keynote speakers for a majority of industry events. Consumers are available online 24/7 these days and they Google everything about a brand, including the views of the spokesperson before making a purchase. Businesses should execute a simple exercise to understand where their spokesperson stands. Google the name of their spokesperson and their business to see if they can easily find themselves the relevant keywords. If they are not visible the way they want to be portrayed, then it is advisable to act in ways to engage with their target audience, build brand awareness and stand out from the competition. Some easy ways to do so include embracing the new data-driven digital content world. Blog content or audio content creation on industry issues, followed by video content should be a top priority for these businesses. This will help them build the best possible resource list for other start-ups/SME’s to follow and eventually expand the reach of their business or niche. This unique content can also be quickly repurposed into social media content to reach a wider audience.

  • The Global Superstars - are recognized for their experience and have built a solid reputation that goes beyond their niche and industry. Their influence extends across many sectors and in some cases to the general public. In this scenario, the spokesperson acts as the face and voice of the brand globally. People are more likely to trust an actual human being than a corporation. For example, Steve Jobs from Apple, Satya Nadella from Microsoft, or Sundar Pichai from Google. These are some of the best examples of Global Superstars. These individuals constantly tell people who they are, what they stand for, the products they make, how it benefits society, what their morals and values are, as well as seek feedback from their consumers on how they can improve. These messages help create the perception of the company in the minds of potential consumers through the spokesperson. Participation in global industry events should be of utmost importance to this category of thought-leaders as it helps them connect with their global audience and penetrate the key messages in the consciousness of stakeholders and other audiences they seek to influence. 

By having a sound reputation in the industry, thought leaders can bring in several benefits to the firm or professional service they are associated with. These include the ability to drive firm growth by attracting clientele who want or need the industry experience, resulting in a more qualified generation of leads, with less effort and greater success.

Thought leadership can elevate a brand, establish authority in the industry, ward off damage caused by negative customer reviews and drive in sales. Successful thought leadership across a business can also directly influence the billing rate that the expert is able to charge, which is often higher than the nominal one. 

A firm builds credibility to its brand when thought leadership is one of their primary marketing strategies. Moreover, in a time when top talent is in high demand, thought leadership is a potential recruiting tool, as it demonstrates the quality of a firm, who in turn attracts employees as thought leaders. 

About the author

Anastasiya Golovatenko Account Director Sherpa Communications

Anastasiya is an accomplished PR professional and business advisor who leads a Dubai-based communications consultancy Sherpa Communications. With more than 13 years of expertise developing and executing all aspects of public relations and marketing campaigns, she provides senior counsel to brands of any size and structure helping them achieve business objectives and meaningful results through the strategic use of communication. 

A passionate public relations practitioner, Anastasiya is actively involved in community groups in the UAE helping individuals and businesses master PR tools for their projects. She is involved in mentorship programmes by in5 startup hubs in the UAE (In5Tech, In5Design, In5Media), she is also an active business mentor and communications advisor at TiE Dubai, entrepreneurship organization with the global footprint as well as advisor at Jupiter Business Mentors (JBM), mentorship platform helps aspiring entrepreneurs in the UAE and across the Middle East region turn their disruptive ideas into reality.

She writes for the UAE and international media on important industry topics sharing tips and advice on effective communication, reputation management, savvy marketing planning amongst others.

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