13 Examples of Excellent Thought Leadership


First, let’s start with the definition of thought leadership marketing

Thought leadership marketing is a form of marketing that attempts to solidify you as an expert and authority within your industry. The goal of thought leadership marketing is not to create sales-heavy content, but rather to provide an entry point to your business by branding yourself as an expert.

By sharing your knowledge with your audience, your efforts position you as the thought leader over time.

(Right now, you’re reading a blog post that is an example of thought leadership marketing)

There are numerous examples of strong thought leadership marketing. Some are well-known, global thought leaders and others are unknown people outside of industry niches. When you’re thinking about your platform for your own thought leadership marketing, consider whether your business serves virtually anyone vs. a subset of people and begin developing content accordingly.

It’s important to think about your audience first, so that you can develop your thought leadership content in a way that helps your audience the best. It goes without saying that when you know your audience, providing them with guidance, education and help in an authentic, meaningful way is infinitely easier.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when you review the list below, is this: there’s no reason why you can’t own a leadership marketing platform that’s all yours, too.

13 Examples Of Excellent Thought Leadership

1. Donald Miller’s StoryBrand

StoryBrand is a content company that offers courses, videos and more to help companies develop and clarify their brand message. It’s founded by author and CEO Donald Miller.

We selected StoryBrand, because Donald does a nice job at positioning himself as a thought leader on branding. He’s written books on branding and provides free videos and downloadable content all on branding. Everything he does is geared toward business owners and entrepreneurs. He knows his audience, he understands what they need help with, and through his thought leadership content, he’s positioned himself as the expert.

2. Sally Hogshead

Sally Hogshead is a powerhouse of public speaking skills and innovation. Her groundbreaking research that included over a million participants lead to her creating the The Fascination Advantage® method. Instead of measuring how you see the world like a Myers-Brigg assessment, Sally’s method reveals how the world sees you.

We couldn’t create a list of thought leadership marketing without including Sally because she’s built a successful career in this industry. She’s one of only 172 members of the Speaker Hall of Fame®, the industry’s highest award for professional excellence plus she’s written several New York Times bestselling books including FASCINATE: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist and HOW THE WORLD SEES YOU.  For any hopeful keynote speaker, Sally has made herself into the leading source on public speaking and has the science to prove it.

3. Daniel Pink

Daniel H. Pink is a thought leader when it comes to work, life, and human behavior. He’s most known for the six books he has authored, including his newest, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which has spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list.

Scientific secrets, social science, and behavioral science are all in his scope of expertise. His thought leadership marketing strategies include helpful life hacks in brief, easy to digest videos, as well as informative and instructional podcasts with topics such as “How to Self Talk” and “This is When to Quit Your Job.” If you want to see thought leadership done well (and learn a bit of social science too), check out Daniel Pink.

4. Susan Cain

Are you looking for a revolutionary? Look no further than Susan Cain. She’s author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking. Plus, she’s had the distinct honor of Bill Gates naming her TED talk as one of his all-time favorites! Susan would be the first to tell you of her “quiet nature,” but over the last few years, she’s given hundreds of talks. She didn’t set out to start a revolution, but she created one, simply by articulating the thoughts many introverts have been feeling their whole lives and giving voice to it.

The reaction to her first book Quiet is all the proof you need when it comes to Susan Cain and her thought leadership prowess. She uses science and the power of words to change the way the world views introverts, and more importantly, how introverts view themselves.

5. Verne Harnish

Verne Harnish is another great example of someone who utilizes thought leadership marketing well. He is known as the “Growth Guy” as he has helped companies scale up for the past three decades. He lends his expertise to several bestselling books including Mastering the Rockefeller Habits which is translated into 9 languages, as well as his latest book Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0), which has won seven major international book awards.

Verne is also the founder of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the world’s only peer-to-peer network exclusive to entrepreneurs with over 13,000+ members in over 57 countries. He offers strategic business planning services, online courses for executive education, and coaching — all geared at helping businesses accelerate their growth.

6. CEO Think Tank

CEO Think Tank is your one-stop shop for anything and everything related to business excellence. Their team of skilled business advisers partner with entrepreneurs and business owners to design business strategy, connect successful CEOs with each other in a supportive network, devise top-quality talent acquisition tactics, and more.

More and more CEOs and senior-level executives are diving into the CEO Think Tank because of the success of their thought leadership marketing. They offer invaluable workshops, free content on their blog, and a wide array of services that appeal to any industry professional.

7. Uncommon Candor

Need a leader’s guide to straight talk? Author Nancy Eberhardt has exactly what you need (plus some great examples of thought leadership marketing). Nancy is the CEO and owner of Pathwise Partners’, a business dedicated to helping top executives and organizations identify transformational opportunities and make strides toward their goals.

Uncommon Candor is not only a bestselling book on how to communicate more effectively, but Nancy has also leveraged her expertise into a 10 part video lesson series. She offers public speaking presentations, coaching for executives, and informative blog posts. Her approach to improving workplace communication strategies makes her a leader in her field and a great example of thought leadership marketing.

8. Mike Michalowicz

For all things entrepreneurial, Mike Michalowicz is one of the world’s leading experts. His bio weaves an amazing story, full of triumphs such as founding two multi-million dollar companies by age 35, but also tribulations as he lost his entire fortune. Now he’s running his third million dollar business and he’s the picture perfect image of building healthy, strong companies.

He’s a thought leader in business growth and development because of his wide array of credentials including his past experience as the MSNBC business make-over expert and as a small business columnist for the Wall Street Journal. In addition, he’s become a popular keynote speaker for entrepreneurs and his collection of five books are considered an “entrepreneurial’s cult classic.” His books, podcasts, public speaking, free resources, and events all establish Mike as a thought leader in his field and a great example of how successful thought leadership marketing can be.

9. Youngme Moon

Youngme Moon is the Donald K. David Professor of Business at Harvard Business School. She has received many awards during her career including the HBS Student Association Faculty Award for teaching excellence seven times and the inaugural recipient of the Hellman Faculty Fellowship, awarded for distinction in research.

In regards to thought leadership marketing, Youngme Moon inspires businesses to take a step back and look at how they are competing within their industry – and more importantly, why.  Her book Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd uses her original research to inspire business owners and entrepreneurs to innovate instead of emulate.

10. Claire Pelletreau

Are you looking for an expert in Facebook Ads when it comes to promoting your online course and making WAY more sales than ever before? Claire Pelletreau is one of the leading experts when it comes to building high quality traffic and conversions.

She offers free guides on the basics that her audience is searching for, helpful and informative blogs, plus a DIY course that resolves all worries and doubts her target demographics has regarding Facebook ads.

11. Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis has become a leading expert on how to build better (not bigger) businesses and he has the portfolio to prove it. He’s been an entrepreneur since the 90s and his courses have helped thousands of students and his work has even garnered the attention of Ashton Kutcher and Ariana Huffington.

His courses help entrepreneurs and freelancers take more control of their business. For example, his “Chimp Essentials” course shows business owners how to use it the “right way,” meaning how to make money off this tool instead of just spending money. Paul Jarvis comes off as authentic and someone you want to have on your team, embodying the essence of a thought leader.

12. Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior. He’s on this list of great examples of thought leadership marketing because he’s honed in and used his experience, research, and knowledge to influence others.

He’s worked with some of the top organizations in the country including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, General Mills, Coca-Cola, GM, LinkedIn, and more. In addition to his books, he also offers free resources and downloads on his website and offers free online courses via Lynda.com.

13. Stew Friedman

Stew Friedman is another academic who has made a name for himself in the thought leadership field. He is the Practice Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Director for the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. He has a long list of credentials that credit his as one of the top business thinkers of our time including being recognized twice as one of the HR’s Most Influential International Thinkers.

Through his numerous bestselling books and his podcast called “Work and Life with Stew Friedman,” he discusses how to find the balance between work and the rest of your life. The numerous awards and recognitions he’s earned make him one of the great thought leaders.

What about you?

You certainly have your own thoughts and perspectives about the work you do. Want to position yourself as a thought leader to your clients and prospects? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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