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Being a thought leader is simply learning and sharing.

Before the internet, B2B marketing was all about forcing your message upon an audience, through your sales team and collateral. The internet caused a paradigm shift and turned B2B marketing around – from repel to attract.

Now empowered, those once cynical buyers now have the vast internet at their fingertips. And they use it. They have business issues to solve, purchases to justify, and salaries to defend. Their quest for knowledge has turned them into hunters, and your brand into the hunted.

Seeking out a thought leader to follow gives both the hunter and the hunted massive power. Generating relevant ideas and insights online is like projecting a beacon of light into a dark night. Buyers see it, and come.

But – there’s always a but – you’ll never become a thought leader unless you create the right content, the right way. And that’s proven tough for some marketers, because producing content isn’t about selling. It’s about publishing and advising. Here are some essential rules to help you reset your marketing brain.

Becoming a thought leader – 9 tips for irresistibly sticky content

  1. Exploit yourself. Your knowledge is your company’s most valuable resource. Leverage your unique position in your category, and be generous with your ideas and insights.
  2. It isn’t about you. If you don’t put your agenda aside, you’ll find you’re speaking to yourself. People don’t care about your vision. They want to talk about themselves – their worries and choices and opportunities.
  3. Solve a problem. Focus on something that really matters to your buyers… something that you’re qualified to give insight and advice on. Use this to form the crux of your communications.
  4. Say something different. To stand out, you need to stake out some fresh territory and own it. It’s pointless sharing already freely available information.
  5. Be objective and altruistic. Yes, you’re a vendor. Pretending you’re not is insincere. But don’t act like a vendor. Use your logo with restraint, and don’t attempt any sly nudges towards the checkout.
  6. Be inspiring. People are trusting you with their time. Don’t disappoint them. Draw your audience in with pithy headlines, and reward them with well-written, unique insights.
  7. Prove it. Use quotes, testimonials, statistics and metrics to support each point of your argument. Relevant statistics are far more powerful than anything you can say, because you’re producing content to support a business goal – and your prospects aren’t dummies.
  8. Bare your throat. If you’re brave enough to discuss past mistakes and weaknesses you’ll convey not only authenticity as a Thought Leader, but confidence as a brand.
  9. Stop shouting. Talk to your audience, instead of at them. Choose media that invites interaction, listen and respond to your audience. If you’re respectful and use their vernacular, you should get along famously.

Every B2B company has can be a thought leader. In the time that you spent reading this, there have probably been multiple online searches for the very knowledge that your company possesses. Next time, make sure they find you.