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If you were to ask any seasoned thought leader who has an established track record, he or she will more than likely tell you that marketing is not easy. For the most part, it’s a gamble, as you never know exactly how your content will be received. It’s not a simple matter of filming a piece of content, plastering it with flashy jingles and edits and posting it on social media in hopes it will land with the majority and convert into sales. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Marketing can be challenging because there are no clear-cut rules about what works best anymore. Thought-leadership marketing, however, remains one of the most effective methods personal brands can utilize to establish their authority and position themselves as experts in their fields — when done correctly. The marketing challenge is then to devise a scalable thought-leadership strategy to productize this knowledge, then monetize it with customers and prospects.What is thought-leadership marketing?Thought leadership is a complex, multifaceted position that requires a precise mix of both relating skills and marketing skills. A thought leader is well versed in expressing ideas and opinions that demonstrate expertise and authority, ultimately positioning himself or herself as a leader in his or her industry. Thought leaders have the ability to influence other people, especially in business, and have immense power in changing a single narrative — because their audience trusts them.There have been many notable thought leaders throughout history such as Elon Musk, Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama and Steve Jobs. Tony Robbins is a public figure who modernized thought leadership and made it popular among today’s entrepreneurs, many of whom run coaching programs, offer educational courses and teach others how to create a life of purpose, fulfilment and freedom.Related: 5 Psychology-Backed Tips for Earning, and Keeping, a Prospect’s TrustWhy is thought-leadership marketing essential?In this digital age where competition is fierce, especially among those who are the face of their brands, if you want to improve sales effectiveness and differentiate your brand, a thought-leadership strategy is critical. People want to know, like and trust you before they want to buy from you.Thought leadership also inspires authenticity, which buyers crave in the modern world where everything seems like a sales gimmick or ad. Thought-leadership marketing is essential because your audience will be paying more attention, take you more seriously, see more value in your offers, and ultimately, it will allow you to become a catalyst for growth.Related: 3 Ways to Use Authenticity to Build Customer LoyaltyHow to effectively utilize thought-leadership marketingEstablishing your brand as a subject-matter expert gives you exposure and authority, and it shows where you are knowledgeable. My own media platform, Ohwabisabi, features the stories and messages of conscious thought leaders in long-form content format, most of which is written by those who wish to establish credibility as thought leaders through writing and sharing their own unique perspectives. With ever-changing narratives in any field, this is why I also choose to use a range of platforms to share and express my views and messages in areas I am passionate in — and it’s why I started Ohwabisabi this time a year ago.Having your message or story shared on any kind of media platform establishes expertise because it is written by a third party, endorsing you and what you stand for. When you’ve been featured, you’ll gain your audience’s trust. Create engaging contentAs content continues to reign as king, clever leaders develop thought-leadership strategies to position themselves as valuable to their target audiences. This content can come from research papers, blog posts, books and ebooks, videos and webinars.Some thought leaders write blog posts regularly that provide value to their readers. Some create visual content on social media around trending topics relevant to their industries. Video and webinars that answer the questions most important to your audience with credible information are also an essential part of thought-leadership marketing. In basic marketing, we learn that “everyone” is not a target audience. If your messaging to your audience is too broad, your message won’t land effectively. So, rather than defining your audience as “everyone” and spending substantial time and money getting your content in front of “everyone,” focus on those who love what you do, who you are and what you have to say. They’re the ones who will become strong, loyal advocates for your brand.Related: Connecting With Your Target Audience Through VideoEstablishing your organization as an industry thought leader is about building trust, credibility and authority, boosting the public perception of your brand in a positive way. These days, consumers use digital and social media for a large majority of the purchasing process, so how you position yourself in the digital space remains crucial.