What makes a thought leader a thought leader? There are many answers to this question, but in the end, it boils down to just a few things:

Thought leaders are trusted if they 1) know more than you do (this knowledge is frequently the result of intense or deliberate study), 2) they can explain what they know in ways that are relevant and compelling, 3) they are recognized by respected authorities or by the audience as a thought leader and 4) they are visible and influential in their field (through speaking, publishing, etc).

There are a lot of scientists in life science companies that meet the first two criteria. There are fewer that meet the second two.

The democratization of publishing (via the web) has given almost everyone the tools to meet the last two criteria. I was talking about content marketing with a client today, showing them an email blast announcing a webinar from a competitor. We remarked about how neither of us knew the people leading the webinar, but we both made a tacit assumption that they must be thought leaders… after all, they were leading a webinar! This assumption is not necessarily logical, I know, but it was one that both of us made.

The opportunity is out there to share your expertise with the world. This is a prime example of using content marketing to firmly establish your positioning. If you are not implementing a content marketing strategy, you should be. Your competitors are, or they will be soon.

And the thing about thought leadership is that it is easy to grab the podium (that is, to be seen as a leader) when you are the first to walk into the room. Once the room gets full, however, everyone wants to get on stage, so all the places at the front are already taken. It is a lot harder to be seen as a leader then.

What are you waiting for?

(For more information about content marketing, see the newsletter section elsewhere on this site.)