To clarify the term: “Thought Leadership” is essentially is having “innovative ideas” and/or contributing articles on those ideas that influence or teach others.
The steps below can be used in ANY market or industry though for sake of this article I am targeting “Inbound Marketing”
01- Research the Negatives.
What are others in your field complaining about?
This presents an opportunity to reach out and release solutions to these issues
02- What are others asking about?
You can look to forums, Linkedin, Yahoo Answers and related type info portals to target “Content of interest”
03- Set up a Google Alert account – http://www.google.com/alerts
You can receive daily or weekly topics of interest based on your target keywords – Great way to stay on top of what the markets are talking about. There are other trend sites which we will cover more in depth in future articles.
04- Competitive Analysis
What are the competitors getting coverage in?
Can you contribute your own perspective or inspire a new direction?
Do you even agree or do you hold insight that suggests otherwise?
05- Fishing for Content
Ask around what areas people have needs in?
What solutions could you solve?
Do a survey | collect data and present the findings in a condensed study
06- Publish or Release content
A basic principle of Inbound Marketing that covers a variety of potential products
(White papers, Webinars, Wikis, Blogs, Ebooks, Podcasts, Research and survey reports, Video Content or Email Newsletters)
07- Monitor online channels (Hang out where the action is)
While a much higher time investment, something as simple as TweetDeck or like app can be used I real time to monitor bits of interest as they are occurring. RSS feeds can be combined and used in this same capacity of monitoring. Though engagement of course is the approach to acting on various channels.
08- Take a reverse engineering approach
Analyze Google analytic data to uncover what others are searching for (especially in regards to your site)
09- Keyword Research
Like example #8, keyword research tools will also reveal what others are searching for in related content
10- Follow your established thought leaders and learn directly from their actions
Don’t’ have to re-invent the wheel, just observe, make note and offer your own presentation. (Lady Ga Ga borrows from Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Hazel O’Connor and David Bowie but still has claimed her own place in music history)
All these steps are suggestions to act upon. Do the research, offer something in return and build your persona or companies pesona in leading your market with helpful contributions.