On our professional and personal lives we are all inundated with content. Nowadays, anyone can post online whatever they deem important. Yet, the more content is available, the more people look for real thought leaders you can trust.
A thought leader is an entity — a person or an organisation — whose authority in a specialised field is widely recognised. Because they are trusted sources of knowledge and expertise in their area, they can inspire people and drive change, assuming the role of opinion makers. Having a purpose is key: a thought leader is an industry expert who shares their expertise with a wider audience with the purpose of educating and adding value to the field as a whole. When companies become thought leaders, their customers describe them as trustworthy and reliable.
Historically, and even before the term “thought leadership” was coined — which happened in the mid-nineties — thought leadership was mostly exerted by intellectual figures: scholars in universities and high-profile thinkers, as well as the biggest consulting groups such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte or Ernst & Young. When the turn of the century brought about the democratisation of the internet and subsequent proliferation of content, companies started to understand that “the reason why thought leadership is a prerequisite [for gaining a competitive advantage] is because trust is a prerequisite, and thought leadership is a way to build trust”. [Joe Chernov: The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership]
Several companies, no matter how small, have then started to act as thought leaders, establishing themselves as a trusted authority in their field by sharing relevant and original content. This outbound communication was primarily done by email or staggered newsletters. The issue with this type of communication is that it is unidirectional: clients are mere recipients of content and cannot actively engage with it. Moreover, if companies try to build knowledge and share expertise, emails and newsletters don’t allow for certifications and industry-recognised stamps of approval.
This is the opportunity that brand academies — which includes customer academies and partner academies — have come to seize. Companies like Google, HubSpot, Salesforce, Gainsight or Tableau Software have all created their own academies: online learning platforms where customers can obtain a professional accreditation which is validated by the brand in question.
Google offers Google Ads Certification via the Google Digital Academy, as well as different levels of training about different topics and products: brand activation, data-driven marketing or Google Analytics, just to name a few.
At the HubSpot Academy, one can obtain courses, lessons and certifications in inbound marketing, inbound sales, social media or content marketing, as well as design, business blogging, and other topics.
Salesforce also offers a multi-level online certification in their own software and related practices.
Gainsight has created the Gainsight Customer Success University with an extensive list of courses and certifications related to this business area.
Tableau Software is yet another example of harnessing the power of training to exert thought leadership and build trust. At the Tableau Academy, one can get training on the software itself, but also read whitepapers and watch tutorials about different management topics.
At bugle, we aim to be at the forefront of learning developments and technology, while ensuring our expertise and knowledge contribute to meaningful advances in the corporate training field. It is part of our vision to help companies set up their own online academies, helping them share their voice with customers and partners. Our easy, customisable and self-service training platform simplifies video training to a great extent, improving your results and giving you a channel to share your thought leadership with those that matter. That is why we will soon launch our own bugle academy. Stay tuned!
What is the field of knowledge you are an expert on? Do you have what it takes to become a thought leader in your industry? So, what’s holding you back? Contact us and get started on your brand’s academy!
You may also find interesting:
Training Trends for 2019 (eBook)
How a brand academy helps you generate quality leads (article)
Why creating a certification program is important for your business KPIs (article)
Customer activation - show value from day #1 (article)
Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help you set yourself apart in the industry as a thought leader?