I know a few healthcare practitioners who have become quite the expert in marketing their own practice. It seems like they recognise that the healthcare profession is what they are in, but healthcare is a business.
What is a Thought Leader?
Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. They create a dedicated group of friends, fans and followers to help them replicate and scale those ideas into sustainable change not just in one company but in an industry, niche or across an entire ecosystem.
Swimming against the current of health provider competition, they have a business mindset. As a result, these practitioners take on a new attitude about the competition. I offer this guide to becoming a thought leader in business & for your own practice.
Most practitioners want marketing, even when they really don’t. Universally, practitioners would prefer to be practitioners and not have to drive the marketing side of their practice. Then, reality intrudes. New patients do not magically appear in your practice. Passive individuals sink or are swept away by the competition.
Practitioners who decide to aggressively move forward evolve as successful. And it’s a fundamental ingredient to being a thought leader.
Being a thought leader is reputation management…
You have to behave like a thought leader before people afford you the actual recognition. Here are some guidepost concepts to becoming and being a recognised thought leader.
Embrace personal branding. As with any marketing endeavour, personal branding creates and promotes a distinctive image or impression in the mind of others. First of all, an individual or personal brand becomes a source point for thought leadership ideas.
Two years. One mouth. One of the defining characteristics in the world of thought leadership is the ability to listen carefully. Regardless of the topic, idea or subject matter, the ability to speak depends first on clarity and understanding. What’s more, thought leaders go out of their way to find differing perspectives, even opposing viewpoints.
Think disruptively. By definition, a disruptive approach disregards existing market conditions in favour of an innovative solution. Disruptive ideas may or may not work, but those that “shatter the mould” can revolutionise an industry, product or process. Furthermore, a thought leader has something new to say, providing a completely different perspective and insight.
Publish often, or perish. Ideas that are unique and/or different need to circulate. A blog is a natural digital platform to share your thinking. Present ideas on your website, social media pages and as a guest author for other outlets. Write an editorial/research paper. In addition, be a speaker at events or at a conference. Expect push back on new ideas. Be prepared to discuss and defend your thinking.
Earning recognition over time…
Becoming a thought leader, as one aspect of your reputation management, requires time to gain recognition. Consequently, frequent and consistent publication earns visibility.
Most of all, working with others, network connections, influencers and established thought leaders build your reputation. And, in the process, you can guide, and perhaps improve, the healthcare industry with your new ideas.