Why Do You Need Thought Leadership

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If you have been lurking on LinkedIn, you have probably wondered why suddenly everyone has “thought leader” on their description. And did you know that it has always been there since 1994?

Thought leadership is described in the dictionary as “intellectual influence and innovative or pioneering thinking.” Often the rock stars of the business world (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jack Kennedy), thought leaders are the best and the brightest, the people that entrepreneurs turn to for advice.

Ironically, despite its buzzword status, value content creators underestimate thought leadership. If you are skeptical about thought leadership, read on to discover what it takes, how it really fares as a marketing strategy, and why you should care.

What Makes a Successful Thought Leader?

Although the term “thought leader” has recently become a buzzword as popular and as overused as the word "influencer,” the concept is nothing new.

Joel Kurtzman, the editor-in-chief of Strategy & Business, coined the term in 1994. He said that a thought leader is someone who deeply understands:

  • ● The nature of their business,
  • ● The marketplace which their business operates on,
  • ● And the needs of their customers.

He added that thought leaders are recognized by their peers, customers, and industry experts, having distinct, original ideas that offer new insights and unique points of view.

These qualities are invaluable in today’s era, when consumers, investors, and clients are all hungry for human brands: companies that talk with you rather than at you. But with a myriad of effective marketing strategies available, should you use thought leadership on top of that?

Thought Leadership By the Numbers.

Sixty-seven percent of the buyer’s journey occurs online. No doubt content marketers have filled every platform with all the flashy gimmicks, promos, and deals. Thought leadership, as overused as it may be, comes as a breath of fresh air amid all the advertising clutter. Furthermore, it works. Here’s why:

Thought Leadership Increases Demand Generation.

Did you know that thought leadership has a greater impact on potential B2B buyers than all other content marketing forms? At least 58 percent of organization decision-makers and 26 percent of marketers say thought leaders influenced them to close deals and work with that company.

Poor Quality Content Turns Off Buyers.

At least 49 percent of B2B buyers say they thought less of a company after reading poor quality content. Some had even rejected a company based on its thought leadership output. But because thought leadership is all about quality thinking, you can impress your buyers with refreshing industry insights nobody else can provide.

Thought Leadership Builds Trust.

Consumers, regardless of demographics, need to trust a brand to buy from them. That means going beyond the product and customer experience. Thought leadership bridges the gap, with 83 percent of actual buyers saying thought leadership builds trust in an organization.


Done right, thought leadership is more powerful than it seems and can put your brand at the forefront of your buyers’ minds. If you have an authentic, credible niche expert who has a clearly identified vision of the industry’s future, perhaps it is high time to use that talent. After all, it takes a thought leader to do more than fix problems—they set industry standards and trends.

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