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Thought Leadership in Online Entrepreneurship

The core principles to achieving thought leadership status

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Thought leadership is the new buzzword of the online space and we can’t help but wonder ‘what exactly is it and how do we declare ourselves as one’? To break it down simply, a thought leader is someone is perceived as an expert in their field. When we think of Amy Porterfield, we automatically associate her as the go-to person for everything online marketing declaring her the ‘thought leader’ of the online marketing world.

Earning the recognition of a thought leader in your niche and industry takes time and patience. It’s not a role you can step into overnight and declare yourself as. It’s a title earned with credibility and recognition received from others.

By taking action today you can carve the path to earning your title as a thought leader in your industry. In this article, I’ll talk about developing your brand identity, building social proof, discovering your niche, locating your ideal clients, networking, and expanding your brand.

The core principles listed below will help you build a solid foundation to increase your brand identity and reputation as an online entrepreneur.

Discover Your Niche

Who are the people that have an interest, need and desire to invest in your product or service. The key to defining your niche is getting as specific as possible to narrow down the exact group of people you will market to. If you’re selling garden equipment, you most likely aren’t marketing to someone who lives in an apartment complex in the big city. You’re targeting individuals living in houses with enough leisurely time to dedicate to gardening. After defining your niche, it’s time to build social proof.

Build Social Proof

Social proof is essential for your audience to trust you. Blog and social media posts, Facebook Lives, articles, and any type of content delivered by you that provides value is considered social proof. Consistency and injecting your personal story and experiences into your message will help you quickly gain trust with your audience. The easiest way to do this is by finding the platform that houses the bulk of your ideal clients and mastering it. The common mistake among many just starting out is they try to juggle multiple platforms at once. This quickly leads to burnout and overwhelmed. Not only does this juggling practice weaken your visibility but it impacts your overall message. The trick is sticking to one and only adding in another platform once you’ve mastered the first.

Understand Your Client

Finding where your ideal clients hang out isn’t always cut and dry. It takes a bit of trial and error and determination. If Facebook is your platform of choice to begin, don’t stretch yourself thin by trying to remain active in twenty plus groups. This creates overwhelm and leads to burnout. Experiencing fear of missing out (FOMO) is normal in the beginning as you find your groove, but it’s helpful to understand that your audience hangs out across many Facebook communities that tend to overlap. The secret is to start eliminating the groups that don’t hold a majority of your audience and narrowing them down to five. People will quickly begin to see you as the expert as long as you’re consistently showing up and delivering valuable content in the form of comments or posts. 

The Key to Market Research

One of the best things you can do to better understand your target audience is conducting market research. Market research gives you the opportunity to ask all the detailed questions you’ve been seeking answers for. The feedback you receive you can re-purpose into content drawing in your audience using the exact language they use. By injecting their words and language into your branding and content, you’ll attract the exact type of clients you want. Market research should be a consistent practice throughout your business as it grows and scales. You should never stop learning about your clients even if you think you know it all.

Expand with a Strategy

At this point, you have a better idea of what your brand identity is, the language your audience speaks, your content creation style, and how you interact and engage with them. To take things to the next level, you have to start expanding your brand. This can be done in a variety of ways such as podcast interviews, writing for big publications, speaking engagements, and workshops just to name a few. Focus on expanding in a way that aligns with your brand. You wouldn’t want to write for a newspaper if your brand is more fashion centered and you wouldn’t want to collaborate with a hunting goods podcast if you’re targeting pregnant women. Be strategic in who you collaborate with and how you expand your brand.

Create a Funnel

Once you start gaining momentum and build a following, you have to start drawing them in by creating a funnel. After engaging and creating trust, you can start introducing your funnel. Directing your audience to your private Facebook group, blog posts to build up your email list, or YouTube channel to increase your presence. Regardless which platform you funnel audience into, you need to remain consistent in producing quality and valuable content to keeps them engaged.

For these core principles to be effective, I recommend creating a content calendar of the topics you can speak to as well as a schedule for how often you show up. If you publish a new blog post every Tuesday, your audience will quickly notice if you lose consistency. Becoming a thought leader in your industry requires patience and persistence to nurture the relationship with your audience. 

Achieving the status of a thought leader is an ongoing process built off of feedback, assessment, and research. Gaining that recognition is easily one of the most rewarding achievements one can hold, but quickly lost if not maintained.

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