A thought leader is an expert in their field, but more than that, they are innovators. Thought leaders demonstrate proven experience and an ability to synthesize new insights from the information available to them. Steve Jobs is a frequently-cited example of a thought leader, but examples of such individuals are easy to find throughout history in many industries. In manufacturing, individuals such as Henry Ford and Harry Knudsen led their initiatives into a new era.
In healthcare, people such as the Mayo Brothers changed predominant ways of thinking about surgery, hygiene, and hospital organization. While thought leadership today doesn’t necessarily mean striving to fill such giant shoes, the spirit is the same: accumulating expertise in a specialty, looking to the future, and sharing those thoughts and insights with others.
Consistently providing valuable and thought-provoking ideas can set your business and brand apart from others, marking it as an authoritative source worthy of attention.
Why does all this matter? Although thought leadership can seem like a very high-minded concept, it's not complicated at all in practice. Consider it an important aspect of modern marketing, particularly for the healthcare industry.
As you strive to produce innovative ideas and ultimately improve the quality of care for patients, you can develop a reputation that leads to improved access to earned media, broader exposure, and ultimately better results for your outreach and advertising efforts. Just as importantly, becoming a thought leader can be the best way to advance your career overall.
It doesn’t happen instantly. The time-worn adage of “Rome wasn’t built a day” applies here. Thought leadership is a status you obtain by developing a reputation and building relationships take time. No one has all their best ideas all at once, and a key part of being a leader in healthcare is observing changes, identifying innovations, and staying one step ahead of the curve.
With the power of the internet and the voracious appetite for new content that exists among virtually every online audience, you can chart a clear course towards standing out from the crowd as an innovator who has something unique to add to the conversation.
Let’s look at a number of the ways you can begin to develop your platform as a thought leader and integrate it into your overall strategy for marketing and growing your business.
Curious about how to incorporate leadership within your marketing team?
At the heart of developing a reputation as a leader in healthcare thinking consist of two things: ideas and outreach. You need to think creatively and share those creative thoughts with others. For those just starting, that might mean building up your presence on social media platforms, especially those associated with business such as LinkedIn. You don’t need a guide on how to become a thought leader on LinkedIn—you can easily see the path others have taken by studying their content.
To say you need to “think outside the box” might sound cliche, but it is also true. Look at how other leaders in the healthcare space seek to drive innovation on the hot topics of the day. Some good examples include those who explore the potential of blockchain technology for hospitals or share innovative ideas about using big data to analyze care outcomes and ultimately drive towards better patient experiences.
The landscape of the healthcare sector is constantly in flux, and new tools and technology emerge every year. Stay up to date on these developments, think creatively about them, and be ready to share those thoughts in places where you can spark discussion and garner visibility in your area of expertise.
At first, your goal is to produce any content that has something different to say.
As you gain traction, your focus should shift to a coherent strategy for building an audience that has an interest in what you have to share. That means identifying who in healthcare will be most receptive to your ideas and developing means for sharing and promoting your content to put it before a larger number of readers. Tie this strategy into your niche in healthcare, such as devices, software, pharmaceuticals, or whatever the case may be.
Build a roadmap of content that you can follow over time. Consistent visibility is essential to honing a reputation as a thought leader. Producing one or two think pieces and then going dark for months as other business responsibilities take over won’t give you the momentum you need.
Regular output, combined with media outreach work and offline appearances, will provide a foundation for growth. For example, B2B marketplace DesignRush ranks its top medical billing companies each month.
Should you stay strictly on LinkedIn? Do you need to cross-post content to Facebook, or should you be a blogger or write guest posts on Forbes? How will you know that anyone actually reads your content or that it is producing the results you desire? These challenging questions about how to become a thought leader on social media might seem almost impossible to answer but proven digital marketing strategists can show you a path.
What areas should you consider when thinking about how to become a thought leader in your niche? Search engine optimization, good web design, well-planned social media outreach, online presence, and in-depth analysis of engagement data—these are all things that are essential to your efforts. However, that doesn’t mean you need to wear every one of those hats.
Instead, partnering with a design and marketing agency with proven experience in the healthcare sector can open the door to working with a team that understands your goals and how to achieve them with a solid marketing strategy.
Paid placement of new high-quality content can quickly lead to a diminishing ROI and an expensive campaign to build a positive reputation.
With better SEO/SEM and design on your side, though, earning free media can become much easier — especially when you’re sharing ideas that get others thinking and talking. This approach ties into another critical step on the journey to leadership.
There comes a point when words need action behind them. Steve Jobs may have contributed tens of thousands of words about the state and future of technology, but what we remember is the “And one more thing...” style of announcement that precedes a bombshell new product or service.
Connecting your leadership with innovations produced by your business is essential, showing that there are concrete results achievable based on your ideas and field of expertise. Backing yourself up with action is a fundamental part of how to be better at leadership at work.
As you speak, write, and engage with the healthcare community, loop in what your brand represents and tie your insights back to your company’s mission. The synergy created by this type of interplay ensures that your efforts are about building a better business while also positioning yourself at the forefront of thought in the industry.
Engaging and thoughtful content is essential, but you should consider it as only one element of an overall approach to becoming a thought leader. If you aren’t actively engaged in the conversations you start, how can you develop a public perception of trust and authority? Community engagement is an excellent way to give yourself and your content a boost.
There are several ways to get involved in the conversation. The most obvious is making an effort to read and respond to comments on content you create and share.
Engaging in discussions with other thought leaders online or in the form of in-person events such as seminars, speaking engagements and conferences gives you much-needed visibility above and beyond what’s possible with SEO, social networks, and good web design. Ultimately, that visibility is a key factor in distinguishing yourself and how you influence others in healthcare.
Be ready for success. With perseverance and objective insights to offer, you can eventually establish yourself as an important voice in healthcare, joining a chorus of others striving to evolve care to the next level. When your efforts begin gathering speed, don’t lose sight of your goals or their purpose.
With success, you can begin translating your good reputation and personal brand into new opportunities to generate leads, capture consumer attention, and ultimately boost your business’s bottom line.
Just like you should have a strategy in place for producing leadership content, so too should you have a plan for how to make your long-term efforts pay actual dividends.
While much of your focus should be on professional development and spreading your message to others, this isn’t a job for just one person. In fact, authentic thought leadership thrives on partnerships, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas rather than mere self-promotional public speaking. That’s true both in your outreach to others and how you prepare to spread your message to your specific target audience.
After all, it takes hard work and the right technologies to reach people online, even if your content and point of view are unique and engaging. The proper digital marketing and design team can make a big difference in helping you understand how to be a thought leader in your industry.
With O8, designing, deploying, and maintaining a platform that can serve as your springboard for sharing insightful content is undemanding. We’re more than just a team of web developers, too. O8 is a diverse group of professionals in marketing, content development, online strategy, and much more. When you’re ready to begin differentiating your brand in the marketplace by stepping to the fore to begin leading, we leverage the latest technologies and best practices to set you up for success.
Consider how working towards becoming the ranks of true thought leaders could lead to positive impacts for your brand and content marketing efforts, and start a discussion with our team today about how we will help you.