This article first appeared on the Wolters Kluwer blog.
Avoiding trendy buzzwords is always a good rule of thumb when promoting your business. In certain circles, promoting yourself as a “thought leader” may cause more people to roll their eyes than anything else.
Unfortunately, self-described thought leaders often bring with them an air of shameless self-promotion of unearned credentials, thereby sullying an otherwise decent term. But regardless of the words being used, does the concept of thought leadership still have value? If you are interested in promoting your brand online, the answer is a firm “yes!”
Legitimate thought leadership should be seen as a way of simultaneously serving your market and promoting your brand. As a tax and accounting professional, there’s no harm in recognizing and promoting the fact that your talent, experience, and passion is useful for answering your clients’ most important questions. Including this in your content marketing is a smart move that can bring big rewards.
Becoming a thought leader
Take, for example, people like Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Seth Godin. These entrepreneurs have built their online reputations as authorities in their chosen fields. Their thought leadership has established them as “go-to” sources for reliable expertise. How can you copy from their playbook to begin growing your position as a thought leader in the tax and accounting space?
- Identify an important topic associated with your business. Do you have lots of experience in a particular market segment or industry? What unique challenges can you best address? Understanding your core competencies is the first step in establishing thought leadership in a given area. If you are a jack of all trades, that can work, too! Just focus on your ability to approach a variety of problems with the same level of proficiency.
- Find out what the right questions are. Focusing on your bread and butter issues is only part of the equation, though. Honing in on the most crucial and pervasive questions your potential clients are asking will tell you how to meet their needs with your influence. If you think your market already has enough trustworthy thought leaders, don’t forget your unique point of view. There’s probably something your personal background can bring to the table.
- Answer questions in multiple formats and channels. Once you have valuable answers that your clients are seeking, be smart about how you share knowledge. The best answers need to have legs, so use the diversity of social media platforms to your advantage.
- Publish new content frequently. In order to truly establish yourself as a thought leader, you can’t rest on your laurels. The world is constantly changing and new challenges are rising every day that require the kind of specialized knowledge that you have at your disposal. Be constantly on the lookout for new answers for these new problems.
Jonny Rector is Product Owner, CCH SIte Builder.