Thought Leadership Strategies Are Crucial For Startups And Disruptors

Apr 12, 2023

The first-to-market companies who see a problem or need and develop tech to expertly solve it, aren’t always the ones that win in the marketplace. Why? Because they often are so focused on doing the good work that they miss the opportunity to broadcast their success to the world. They fail to achieve recognition and get the credit they are due as first-movers and capture mindshare, while others flood the market with similar technology, bigger budgets and gain market share.

That’s why thought leadership marketing and communications strategies are crucial to startups and first-to-market disruptors to give a startup street cred and drive online awareness in the marketplace.

Thought leadership will continue to be crucial strategy in the B2B tech space. It’s a go-to strategy anytime technology is transforming, modernizing and disrupting. This is happening in a lot of industries right now — especially in healthcare — where the pandemic has ignited long-overdue, massive digital transformation, from the back office to the OR and to connective home care to life sciences.

In working with a range of healthcare tech companies from startups to publicly traded entities, our recommended thought leadership campaigns include strategies to drive credibility and massive awareness with targeted audiences and the general public. Campaigns typically include strategic news/content, analyst relations, collaborations, awards, high-profile speaking engagements and, of course, focused efforts to secure earned media coverage for client thought leaders and subject matter experts through interviews, podcasts, webinars, and contributed byline articles.

Many of our clients have seen a white space opportunity — such as a chronic challenge in healthcare — and have solved it with tech. That’s leadership! Creating thought leaders within the client organizations who can share their expertise, amplify and broadcast their solution stories, and even help other peers by sharing their learning, is powerful.

Here are some thought leadership strategy tips to consider:

Analyst Relations

We all know these firms by name – Gartner, IDC, Forrester, CBInsights, Frost & Sullivan, KLAS, and Constellation Research, among many others. They provide consultative services and publish helpful reports that are distributed to their paid client base to help organizations understand the latest technology solutions, where and why to apply these solutions, who the tech vendors are, how they stack up and who to consider in a technology purchase decision. The job of industry analyst is challenging – they have to stay on top of all the many players in several niche areas, even as new players pop up every nanosecond.

  • Tip #1: analysts and their teams take introductory briefing calls to get to know new vendors, which is a smart first step to being included in an upcoming report – earned analyst relations (AR) exposure.
  • Tip #2: understand your prospects and which firms they rely on the most as analyst firms can play niche roles.  For example, KLAS is among the top trusted resource in healthcare!


As consumers, we see these regularly in the mass market. Right now the hottest collaborations include Cheetos and Kentucky Fried Chicken…Sharpie and Nike…Lego and the streaming series Stranger Things. The formula behind this idea is 1 plus 1 equal more than the sum of the parts, and that brands and businesses can borrow the credibility and equity of each other, shape an exciting and creative story, capture media attention and drive awareness and buzz.

That principle holds true in B2B marketing and communications too. Beyond the obvious – a vendor and a client coming together to tell their success story — we’ve seen creative forces come together for webinars, high-profile speaking engagements and social media and PR campaigns. One of the best examples was in 2011 when Ford and Toyota – two thought leaders in the newly disruptive automotive tech space – teamed up to innovate on hybrid cars.  In healthcare, two thought leaders in a specific movement, say value-based care and AI tech — that aren’t in direct competition for the same geography or niche application space, could join forces to help drive the change. Again, 1+1=3!

  • Tip #1: be creative and look for alignment to execute a mutually beneficial, cohesive collaboration and together tell a powerful industry-changing story.
  • Tip #2: if you come together for a webinar or speaking engagement, don’t stop there! Be sure to repurpose that high-value content, maximizing it across as many paid, earned, social, and owned (PESO) channels as possible. So drawing from the webinar content, consider doing a co-bylined blog post or contributed article, an exclusive co-interview with a media outlet, and social posts tagging each other.


Submit your thought leadership work for awards which are not only feel-good recognition for the team, but also lend credibility and generate earned coverage and online buzz. Awards from prestigious organizations like Inc., Fortune, CNN, Forbes and Fast Company and industry-specific awards from the likes of Modern Healthcare or Fierce Healthcare offer high-profile cache and elevate a company’s brand.

  • Tip #1: tell a story in your award application in a way that people will enjoy reading. Recently creating application content, I ran into a question – describe your company to a Martian– which I thought was a stellar approach to demystify the company’s technology story. It forced us to tell the story in new ways and that content made its way back into other channels like the website, sales collateral and more.
  • Tip #2: showcase real-world impact, especially with data, stats and metrics, to round out your application story.

As long as technology continues to advance – AI, ML, VR, G5/6G and more – and startups keep disrupting industries, thought leadership strategies will be an integral part of any successful PR program. From what we can tell, that’s not easing up any time soon.