Ten years ago, Nick Nanton and I founded The Dicks + Nanton Celebrity Branding Agency. We brought business owners and professionals notions like “People Buy People” and taught them to win prospects by getting them to know, like and trust them. We launched the Agency, following our own advice, with our book Celebrity Branding® You.  It was followed by StorySelling, Mission Driven Business (all Best-Sellers) and our forthcoming book, Impact. We attracted 3021 clients in 33 countries and helped them become Best-Selling Authors®, producers of Emmy® award-winning documentaries and acquire TV, magazine and newspaper appearances.

Many of our early concepts have now become mainstream. Today, more than ever, people want authority content from an expert in their field. This decade is seeing the rise of the ThoughtLeader®, the next generation of expert that people look for to provide a faster road to their own success.

But what exactly is a ThoughtLeader®?  How do you become one? Do you even want to?

These are the questions I’ll address while showing you the way to become a ThoughtLeader® yourself.

Content Marketing vs. ThoughtLeader®

In many ways, content marketing and ThoughtLeadership work together.

Content marketing has become a leading way to reach your prospect or customer. Instead of brash ads yelling how good you are, content marketing attracts your market’s attention with solid information that your customers are seeking from a reliable source. People then seek out the provider of this good, reliable content, creating a bond of trust between the consumer and the business.

Being a ThoughtLeader® is a long-term strategy unlike other advertising methods. A ThoughtLeader® provides original content, while providing innovative ideas and unique insights about their field of endeavor on a constant basis. In many ways, the ThoughtLeader® looks beyond the surface and “sees” new ways of using traditional ideas or “borrows” ideas from other fields and adapts them.

Elon Musk, for example, is a ThoughtLeader® in multiple fields. From automotive (Tesla) to solar (Solar City) to space travel (SpaceX), Musk’s mind moves in and out of different worlds and joins them in sort of a cross pollination. The answers to the needs of Telsa are sometimes borrowed from Solar Cities’ energy farms or SpaceX rocket launches.

Peter Diamandis is one of today’s leading ThoughtLeaders® and the subject of our documentary, Visioneer. The movie explains Peter’s creation of The X Prize, a non-profit organization founded to fund answers to some of the world greatest problems. Peter has also founded and co-founded ventures in human longevity, asteroid mining, AI, and Singularity University, all dedicated to bold ventures for the good of mankind.

As great as these ThoughtLeaders® are, they are “super examples” or people everyone’s heard of.  No more important than Albert Manero, the executive Director of Limbitless, a young man in Orlando who created a low-price robotic arm that is 3D printed, making them available to an entirely new market.

The ThoughtLeader® today can be an expert in any field, or in multiple fields.  In many cases, the ThoughtLeader® can’t help but to provide information and ideas, “its just what they do.” The ThoughtLeader® becomes the source of knowledge and helps people find answers to their questions from a trusted, authoritative source. Once that ThoughtLeader® status is bestowed on someone it is a very powerful element of trust.

This new relationship between customer and ThoughtLeader® must, like all business relationships, be continually reinforced. ThoughtLeaders® must continue to maintain a position in the minds of their customer, by providing a never-ending stream of top-level information via email, blogs, articles, newsletters, books, and video. It is not a one and done strategy.

What type of Information do you provide as a ThoughtLeader®?

A ThoughtLeader® provides information that their customers want. It’s ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER! I don’t care how good your content is, if it’s not what your customers want they will lose interest. The more you vary from the message you provide the customer, the greater the chance you have of losing them.

Think about Dave Ramsey. Dave is known for his debt free, financial planning approach to your finances. He has talked about the same approach for years and doesn’t vary his message. Does Dave’s message get tiring sometimes? Maybe, just as we tire of a favorite song. But then when we hear it again, it awakens a sense that had paused for a moment and the good feeling comes back. The art is to try and keep the information timely but consistent.

Building Your ThoughtLeader® Platform

To be a successful ThoughtLeader®, you must have a platform. It is your home base where you operate. Dave Ramsey’s main platform is his nationally syndicated radio show. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely you will have a national radio show as your platform when you first start out, neither did Dave. In most cases, your platform will be your website. The good news is that good, productive websites have fallen in cost and they tend to be less complex to create.

Your website should quickly convey who you are, what you do, and how you can help. Just remember, your content should be more about the customer and less about you. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a great photo of yourself, a smile is important for the guest to feel comfortable with you. You will also share information about yourself, but the best way to do that is through testimonials. Let your customers brag on you, the more credibility they have the better for you.

While I could go on about how to build your Platform Website, the best information I can give you is to go to one of my partners (and my daughter), Lindsay’s website at www.CelebritySites.com.  She has lots of information that you can use when interviewing a Webmaster or as a checklist if you are able to build your own.

My point about websites is that a successful ThoughtLeader® must have a great platform to launch their content and connect with their audience. Please feel free to also go to our website, www.CelebrityBrandingAgency.com, for more content on building your business, and your professional position as an expert and Thoughtleader® in your field.