How to use thought leadership to grow your startup

Kennedy Nuñez
How to use thought leadership to grow your...

Joe Kurtzman coined the term “thought leader” in 1994 to describe individuals with worthy ideas. He saw thought leaders as experts in their fields who deeply understood their industries and combined their passion and knowledge to build brand credibility.

The business world has since embraced and expanded the term. Thought leadership has become a strategy that business executives and scrappy startup founders alike use to carve out a space in the market for their voice to be heard. More importantly, by providing guidance to a specific target audience and proving industry expertise, thought leadership opens new business opportunities.

If startup founders and their marketing teams want to implement a successful thought leadership strategy for their brand, they must approach it with purpose and dedication. Think of it as a combination of setting goals, brainstorming, analyzing the competition and creating content with the goal of measuring the results, according to Hubspot

Here are a few pointers to help your personal and startup brand reap the benefits of thought leadership.

Find a target audience

When it comes to thought leadership, having a specific audience in mind is essential. Find out what motivates your target audience and create content for them. People look to leaders for inspiration, guidance, and problem-solving assistance. You must know your audience’s struggles and areas of guidance if you want your content to be relevant.

Authenticity, specificity, and accessibility should all be hallmarks of thought leadership content. Your knowledge and enthusiasm must resonate with the audience if you want to earn their trust. Intimacy is a foundation for trust, and it is diminished when content is too generalized.

Become familiar with your competitors’ strategies

Thought leaders are business people who have mastered the art of sifting through the clutter of conventional marketing campaigns. However, in order to do so, you and your startup must first determine what clutter to cut through. Look for content gaps in your competitors’ strategy and content, and develop content to fill them, as HubSpot suggests. One of the most effective ways to establish your startup as a market leader is to study your competition and then try to outperform them.

Develop a strategy for content and distribution

Because of their expertise and knowledge, thought leaders have a noticeable presence. However, if you want to be recognized as a true thought leader, you must be visible for all to see. To achieve this, you should create a wide range of content and distribute it in a variety of ways. You’ll be able to reach a smaller audience if you focus your efforts on a single blog or outlet. Thought leaders can benefit greatly from video content because it is easily shared across platforms and has a more personal feel than written content.

You’ll also want to keep your target audience interested by writing about topics they’re interested in. Producing content on a regular basis is the most effective strategy for accomplishing this. Create an editorial calendar at least three months in advance and stick to it if you want to be successful. Check out the PR over Coffee blog’s 5 reasons your brand’s blog needs an editorial calendar for more information on the advantages of using one.

Authenticity is key

Self-promotion should be minimized in your thought leadership content. The most effective thought leaders gain the respect and trust of their target audience by sharing their expertise, proving credibility, and making compelling arguments. This can be done through anecdotes or trial-and-error stories you’ve experienced with your startup. 

But the presence of advertisements and promotions can quickly make thought leadership lose its authenticity. Personalize it, tell your story, and don’t forget that nothing beats honest, first-hand knowledge when sharing fresh perspectives.

It’s OK to switch things up

Leaders in their fields should not be apprehensive about changing the direction of their message. As a result of their extensive industry knowledge, thought leaders are ideal spokespersons for the collective sentiments of other professionals in the same field. Moreover, they are the ideal role models for showing us how to look around and beyond today’s problems. It’s important to remember that there’s never a bad time to put in the time and effort it takes to develop a successful thought leadership strategy.

About Kennedy Nunez: Kennedy is a Business Development Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft also has a small satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft has been listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas for two years running by the B2B services review site,

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