Leaders today are looking for ways to make their credibility known without it sounding too salesy or putting people off.
Thought leadership is a content marketing tactic that helps a company do just that: build recognition for themselves and their leaders as well-known, well-respected, and go-to industry resources for colleagues, peers, customers, and the public at large.
But those concerns leaders may have are well-founded. Today, thought leadership is becoming more challenging than ever before. Even when you’re an expert, you still need to stand out among many other experts (or so-called authorities) - and do it graciously. That’s why it’s so critical to skillfully communicate, nurture, and sustain your reputation as an expert.
Luckily, we have a little street cred when it comes to thought leadership. We are happy to help.
The Nature of Thought Leaders and Thought Leadership Marketing
Thought leaders have comprehensive knowledge and experience in a specific industry. Their expertise is elevated by rock star-level authority and credibility, which helps build trust with people.
The goal of a thought leader is to share credible insights into their business that educate a broader audience, help improve people’s lives, and add meaningful value overall to their field of expertise.
Thought leadership marketing is a strategy to engage people with educational, informative, entertaining, and relevant content so that you provide real value in their lives while demonstrating how well you can help them find it. When someone is searching for a solution like the ones your products and services provide, they’ll be more likely to turn to you first.
Focusing on thought leadership content instead of sales or self-promotional content can also improve your brand awareness, generate more leads and social proof, and boost online engagement with your ideal audience.
Benefits of Thought Leadership Marketing
- It helps companies differentiate.
81% of C-suite executives say their trust in a company increases after engaging with their thought leadership content.
- It supports a culture of learning.
For almost 60% of decision makers, a company’s thought leadership directly influences the awarding of business to that organization.
- It’s sustainable.
More than half of company decision makers say they use thought leadership to vet organizations they may hire.
6-Step Plan to Build Thought Leadership to Maximum Advantage
Step 1: Develop your genuine area of thought leadership.
Rather than focusing your efforts on an entire industry, choose a specific area within your industry where you’ll be an expert and build from there. This means gaining knowledge and experience in a few topics related to that area so you become a specialist. You use your expertise to share credible insight into this area of your business. When you establish an authoritative point of view, it’s easier to be more genuine about talking it up. You’ll be able to “humanize” your brand with authentic content that helps everyone. It’s how you build trust with your ideal audience and influence their buying decisions when they’re ready.
Step 2: Know and embrace your ideal audience.
Chances are, you already know who your audience is. Now’s the time to really study what engages, motivates, and delights them. Establish buyer personas and check the data regularly.
Step 3: Get savvy about your competitors.
Get to know the other companies and leaders who share your area of expertise. Consume their content. Know where it can be found and who they’re talking to. Look for ways where you can fill a gap or do a better job as a thought leader.
Step 4: Produce high-quality, in-depth content.
Thought leaders understand the trends and issues that are important to their audience. They write about that.
In study after study, people say they prefer fresh, forward-thinking, and evidence-led thought leadership content that helps them by solving a problem or teaching them something useful:
- 46% like content that explores issues or challenges from new and different perspectives.
- 32% like content that analyzes important or emerging trends.
- 29% like content that contains robust data.
They respond less well to content that’s too generic or promotional and doesn’t seem authentic:
- 63% don’t like content that’s not directly relevant to them.
- 53% don’t like content that promotes products and services rather than addressing their problems.
- 58% don’t like content that lacks original ideas or insight.
Types of thought leadership content include:
- Blog posts and articles
- Books and eBooks
- Speaking engagements
- Webinars and seminars
- Original research
- Guest contributions and activities
- Ongoing and helpful social media presence
- Community outreach and initiatives
Step 5: Keep a consistent publishing schedule of valuable content on different platforms.
Publish your thought leadership content where your existing and prospective audience can see it. This means publishing on your own platforms such as a blog, website, and YouTube channel, as well as guest publishing, interviews on other media, and speaking at events. Within your publishing schedule, engage your community on social media and online groups with relevant thought leadership content. Remember to repurpose your content for different platforms, such as publishing your guest speaker slides on SlideShare to reach a wider audience.
Step 6: Keep learning about your expertise.
If you want to maintain and grow your thought leader reputation, stay on top of all the latest developments, trends, and challenges in your industry as well as your specific area of expertise. Keep your own thinking fresh by learning from the insights and experience of your competitors.
11outof11 Knows Thought Leadership
If you need help with content creation that establishes a strong reputation for you as a thought leader in your industry, connect with 11outof11. Request a complimentary call with an 11outof11 expert. Contact us to learn more.