By Paul Zelizer
Join me in a happy dance!
With this new site, I’ve chosen to take a big step and refocus my business on supporting current and emerging thought leaders. Taking this leap is both REALLY exciting and a little vulnerable. Thought leaders think out of the box. Thought leaders expect top service. Thought leaders tell you when you mess up.
My kind of people!
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. ~ Denise Brousseau
We all have reference points for the kinds of leaders that we’re growing into. The people who’s work we’ve learned from, tried out and then modified.
They’ve written the books that have influenced what we see and how we work. It’s their blog posts or TED talks we share with colleagues when they get stuck. We tell our clients to go to their workshops when they can.
They shape how we live, work and love. It’s really quite a powerful role to be in. And, as we know from the large number of scandals involving leaders and sex and money, it’s a position that comes with a great deal of responsibility.
5 Tips for a Great Thought Leader Website
You need a website in today’s world. Period.
These days, I have the pleasure of spending my time with thought leaders, exploring together how to communicate their work in a clear and compelling way on the web. Which gets interesting given that most of them don’t easily fit into existing boxes. I get to see a LOT of websites in this work.
Over time, I’ve developed these 5 Tips for a Great Thought Leader Website:
Content that leads. A thought leader has thoughts. Interesting ones. Unique ones. Ones that stand out from the crowd. The single most important aspect of a true thought leader website is to showcase your content. I don’t care whether you share your ideas via a blog, videos, podcast, or smoke signals. Show us you’ve got something interesting to say if you want a seat at the thought leader table.
A world class brand. Thought leaders understand that a brand is more than a pretty logo and website colors. Fundamentally, your brand is the sacred story you tell in your business. It means you know who you are here to serve – and who you aren’t. It means you talk about the things that other people in your sector are afraid to touch – even with the knowledge that doing so is likely to bring some heat your way.
Heart centered photos. Photos in the mainstream business world tend to be highly polished and staged. There’s an opposite trend in the thought leader world. People are tired and suspect of brands who distance themselves from their humanness. The photos on the best thought leader sites in the conscious entrepreneur world are increasingly heart centered. For example, check out the relaxed yet professional photos on Sasha Allenby and Jonathan Fields’sites.
Unique design. A beautiful design does matter. And, notice it’s not at the top of my list. It’ breaks my heart to see beginning or mid level entrepreneurs spend $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 or more on a pretty website but have a fuzzy understanding of their brand and marketing strategies.If you know these things, then pay attention to how you can tell the story of your brand both with words and visually. And, look for a design that combines an awareness of a modern look without being a clone of others sites in your space. Lastly, I highly recommend a designer who has experience in doing sites in your sector and has the capacity to optimize your site for mobile.
A relational user experience. A site can be beautiful but be a nightmare to use as a user. This usually happens when someone tries to do too cram too much in the first few layers of a site. Relax. Take a deep breath. If you start the experience off of using your site in a crisp and compelling way, people will sign up for your newsletter and take notice of your content marketing channels. For example, notice how Leo Batuba and Brené Brown each take different approaches to creating layers for their sites. And there’s no hyped up sales video or obnoxious email popups on either site.
What’s Your Experience?
Thought leaders often don’t fit easily into a pre-existing box. So coming up with a formula for a great thought leader website isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
What thought leader websites do you like and what do you like about them? What have you been wrestling with when it comes to creating your website? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experience in the form of a comment below!
Paul Zelizer is one of the first business and marketing coaches to focus on the needs of Wisdompreneurs – people who have a business is based on the principles of wisdom and spirituality. In addition to conscious entrepreneurship, Paul is passionate about just about anything you can do in the mountain high country, power yoga, dark chocolate, sustainable living, ecstatic poetry and deep centering breaths. He lives in a solar adobe home in the mountains near Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more information, please visit Paul's website.