So You Want To Be An Industry Thought Leader….

This is a lofty goal and one many organizations aspire to achieve.  The identity of some brands as prolific or high tech product innovators may serve to naturally position them as industry thought leaders simply due to the nature of their corporate structure.  However, there are still opportunities to raise awareness and establish a leadership role for a company that is not widely known as the glitzy industry golden child.

1. Identify a specific topic or group of topics to home in on.  Even Apple is not an expert in everything.  The key is to recognize a core area of expertise in which the company excels and truly is an industry leader. If a competitor has already staked a claim, look for ways to gain traction with expertise on niche but important topics. Choose a knowledgeable spokesperson and then build an outreach strategy to focus on telling your unique story.

2.  Get visible.  Many companies attend and even exhibit at industry trade shows.  But there are myriad opportunities to apply for a speaking position at industry events.  Shows, conferences, industry panels, meetings, round tables, workshops and even milestone celebrations are all excellent venues for establishing your brand as an expert on your focused area of expertise.  Also, think beyond simply presenting at peer-to-peer shows.  Vertical market events offer an opportunity to connect with potential customers.

TIP: Secure more speaking opportunities and deliver more engaging presentations by avoiding commercial messaging.  Deliver meaningful, educational content that event attendees can use and will associate with your brand.

3.  Dust off the old typewriter.  With the current state of the publishing industry, many trade publications (and increasingly consumer publications) are constantly seeking good content from a fresh perspective.  Using your established focus as a pitch topic, reach out to leading industry and vertical trade publications to pitch a bylined feature article.  Like event presentations, think about how your article can educate a magazine’s readership about a certain topic affecting the industry.  If you can offer a new perspective to readers, editors will be excited to help tell your story.

4.  One is never enough.  Do not settle for one speaking engagement or feature article placement.  Within your focused area of expertise, consider all angles and side to the story, as well as how certain industry trends and events affect constituents and vertical markets differently.  Refocus your main topic to address multiple angles and you can still deliver exclusive content to each show or publication you work with.

5. Consider developing a corporate sponsored blog.  If you want to be a thought leader, continuous and current content is key.  A blog provides a simple channel for communicating opinions and predications as changes occur. Moreover, consider how you can use social media to further expand your blog reach.

6. Compete for professional awards.  Whether for new product launches, professional leadership or even something as simple as safety, competing in award competitions can raise a company’s profile as a thought leader.  Many competitions are actually sponsored or hosted by industry publications – resulting in built in media coverage for winners.  And for those that aren’t, publicity and media relations can be implemented to effectively raise awareness for awards.


Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.