Are you familiar with the first-mover advantage? As far as business concepts go, it’s one of the more intuitive. The first company to enter a new market reaps major rewards, often in the form of brand recognition and customer loyalty.
This same principle applies to content creation. When you’re the first to publish a new idea, the rewards can be tremendous. You get people’s attention. You gain recognition. By sharing new concepts, you’re adding value to the conversation, whereas others just add noise.
But if you want to establish yourself as a true thought leader in your industry, being a first mover is only half of the equation. Without consistency — in terms of both the quality of your content and the regularity with which you publish — you’re just a flash in the pan. Consistency is what creates an audience.
When you consistently publish high-value content, your audience will look forward to your next piece. People will seek out your opinions; they’ll feature you and your ideas in their own articles. You’ll write response pieces, expanding your reach and impact.
Plus, your growing body of content will bring you closer to your customers and partners. When they read your articles, they’ll better understand how to get the most from your company and products.
Over time, you’ll build a reputation as an expert and a thought leader. Your audience will market your brand for you. Your business will grow.
Look to HubSpot if you need further convincing. In 2006, the founders launched the company, boldly declaring that outbound marketing was dead. The team began creating an abundance of engaging content around the concept of inbound marketing. They wrote pieces predicting the future of their industry; they published eBooks on how to create “lovable” inbound campaigns. HubSpot quickly gained a dedicated audience, and it’s now one of the most influential companies in inbound marketing.
Gary Vaynerchuk has a similar story. A self-taught wine expert, he set an industry trend by voicing his opinions through social media. Using Twitter and a video podcast to engage with thousands of customers, Gary has built an online wine empire. Gary’s personal brand — opinionated, funny, brash, and personal — extends beyond his own industry. He’s consistent and original, and he enjoys tremendous success because of it.
We talk to plenty of clients who yearn to be thought leaders, but worry that their ideas aren’t original. It’s not a baseless fear; many industries are saturated with content already.
However, so much existing content is just noise. Sift through it, and you’ll find there’s a vacuum waiting to be filled by something new and authentic.Here are four ways you can fill that space:
1. Read what the current thought leaders of your industry are saying. What do they feel has changed within the past five years? What do they think will happen in the next five?
Write down your own predictions. Do some research, and flesh out your arguments with facts and stats.
2. Repeat #1, but this time, read content by thought leaders in other industries. What parallel trends and changes can you find? What can your industry learn by looking at other niches?
Take a stance on what this adjacent industry means to yours. Build a strong argument, and support it with statistics and sources.
3. Find an article by a thought leader in your industry that you completely disagree with. Compose a counterargument; support it with evidence and opinions. Your goal is convince everyone to agree with you instead of the original article.
In writing a counter piece, you’re sparking a healthy debate within your industry — and debate is vital for innovation and growth. For more details on how to take a stance in your writing, check out our blog post, "Thought Leader or Speculator? Why Your Content Needs to Take a Stance".
4. If you simply always retweet something a thought leader says, you’re contributing noise, not value. There’s a difference between creating valuable content and simply aggregating it. The next time you read a tweet that’s worth sharing, retweet it along with your own thoughts, reactions, or insights.
Creating original, high-quality content on a consistent basis requires dedication and energy. And taking a bold stance on something will always be a risk. You’re sticking your neck out and opening yourself up to criticism.
But thought leaders don’t just parrot back what everyone else is already saying. They step up and take risks. They break new ground.
Your original ideas are one of your business’ greatest assets, so publish them. Be bold. Be a leader.
Written by Kelsey Meyer.