Did you know that 76% of executives say that Thought Leadership content marketing influenced their purchasing decisions, while another 83% said that this content influenced the type of business relationships? This is according to a survey by The Economist Group.
But first, let’s look at the term thought leadership.
It’s conventional to start by defining the term thought leadership, but that’s not going to be the case in this post. Here, we’d take a more relaxed approach by looking at what thought leadership is not.
- Thought leadership is not a list of technical instructions
- It’s not something created by those at the top in your industry
- Thought leadership is not an analysis of those features that make your products and services stand out in the industry.
- Again, it doesn’t have to qualify for a TED talk.
In essence, thought leadership is about harnessing talent, experience and passion inside your business or from your community to respond with authority to the biggest questions in the mind of an objective audience on a particular topic. In other words, it is about providing the best and most in-depth answers to important questions in a way that your audience likes to consume.
For many years, companies have focused their business strategies on the value they offer to the consumer, through their products and services. So far, we have witnessed how brand communication only pointed to the characteristics of the product or service.
Today, the way to communicate with consumers has changed. It has a lot to do with giving much more value to the experience and knowledge that a brand can offer them.
Thought Leadership strategies are becoming stronger as a new perspective that companies communicate and interact with their consumers, demonstrating their experience and knowledge on a given topic and offering them answers, options or alternatives for their problems, tastes or needs.
But what is a thought leader?
They are the people who are at the top of their areas, and others trust and respect them for their experience and opinions. Also, since thought leaders are above their peers, they are in the perfect position to take their companies to the top with them and achieve even greater success.
However, you don’t need to be a co-founder of a multinational company to be considered a Thought Leader. Also, thought Leadership is not only applicable to great personalities; it has more to do with the experience, knowledge and influence that a person or brand has.
What is thought leadership content marketing?
If you’ve ever done some extensive reading about B2B content marketing, you’d probably come across the term ‘thought leadership content’. Here, we’d explain what the term is and its impact on your organization.
Let’s look at the two key phrases, ‘thought leadership’ and ‘content marketing’. Having said a lot about thought leadership, we’d consider the next phrase, content marketing, as it relates to thought leadership.
While thought leadership focuses on positioning your company as a leader in the industry, content marketing involves those strategies employed in passing your message across to your prospects.
Simply put, thought leadership content marketing is an art of positioning your company as a leader in its field through high-quality content. It involves those strategies that you put in place to keep your company at the top.
Features of a Thought Leadership Content
First, we need to understand what a thought leadership content is and what it looks like.
The purpose of a thought leadership content is to educate, inform and provide insights to boost organic reach. This explains why it is not;
- A content mainly created for SEO purposes which are the case with traditional blogging
- A marketing piece product offering or services or
- Self-promotional content aimed at advertising your brand
Here, we have broken it down a little further;
Establishes you as a resource: Producing a valuable and educational B2B content for professionals in your industry automatically builds you to become a resource. And that is what differentiates a thought leadership content from a simple blog. Thought leadership content makes people turn to you for insights and other helpful information relating to the industry.
Targeted to professionals in your industry: thought leadership content is not meant for your target customers alone; instead it also addresses the CEOs managing companies in the same industry as well as other vendors whom you partner with. However, you need to understand who the professionals are in your industry if not, you might be missing the mark.
Contains valuable insights: While harnessing your expertise, thought leadership provides insights that your target audience may not be aware of or haven’t realized. It could be the best practices and experiences that you’ve learned over a long period in the industry through a series of trial and error. The content mustn’t be ground-breaking; however, it undoubtedly surpasses the conventional reasoning or common sense. This is one of the attributes of thought leadership that separates it from traditional blogging.
Educational: As with other marketing, thought leadership aims to share your expert knowledge with your prospects, particularly when you’re dealing with B2B content. The knowledge and ideas should be clearly explained, and there should be tangible and defined takeaways for everyone including the professionals.
To position your company and its leaders as industry experts, you need to align a thought leadership and content marketing strategy. Hence, we can also say that thought leadership content marketing is a way of implementing thought leadership as part of your content strategy.
As you already know, thought leadership does not directly advertise your brand, but it gives your prospects a clue of the importance of your business or brand.
How to Create Thought Leadership Contents
At this point, you may be asking; how do I create this type of content for my organization? But, before you delve into creating thought leadership content, there are essential questions you need to keep in mind. They are;
Is the content valuable, education and targeted to professionals in our industry?
Will the content make the lives of those in my industry any easier?
However, thought leadership content comes in a variety of formats which include;
- virtual events such as webinars,
- original research papers,
- contributed content to other publications, and
- blog posts
There is no one recipe for success when it comes to crafting thought leadership content. Your content marketing goals determine your approach to thought leadership content. When you find the right mix for your brand, you’re sure to cook up something useful that will bring people in and keep them coming back.
Here, are 5 steps that will guide you when creating your thought leadership content.
#1 Define your strategy: Your content decision is critical so, the first thing to do is to set up a blueprint and a plan for it. However, you need to align your strategy with your sales objectives, target market as well as your brand positioning.
Most importantly, you need to have a clear understanding of your customers’ pain points to enable you to come up with original ideas.
#2 Create a playbook: After defining your strategy, the next thing is to work on your content. However, your content should be consistent with your brand voice and style. To achieve this, you need to create a playbook that outlines your goals and specifics. Whether you’re outsourcing the content to a creative team or your experts will be creating the content in-house, a playbook will help you keep your thought leadership content consistent with your personality and your brand voice.
#3 Engage your in-house experts: You are not working alone. To create unique content, you need valuable insights into exciting developments from your in-house experts. Also, it is essential to identify your leaders who will serve as the voice of the company.
#4 Establish a process: There is a need for a process that will move the content smoothly through all the editorial and approval stages. Some of the tools to consider include;
- A content management platform that helps to streamline the editorial process. It could be an app.
- A content architecture that displays the way the thought leadership assets boost specific marketing initiatives and sales.
- An editorial calendar containing a detailed plan for your thought leadership campaign
#5 Inventory assets: Taking inventory is another way of monitoring the progress of your effort. By tracking your metrics, you are sure to identify content gaps. It helps you to know what’s working and what area needs extra effort. As soon as you create an inventory, you will find it easier to flex your thought leadership content muscles.
Types of thought leadership content
Any great content strategy that drives thought leadership should have the following features;
- Should drive peoples’ interest to be willing to pay for it
- Should be newsworthy,
- Your press mentions, most of it, should be attributable to content campaigns
- Should show great relevance
However, four different types of thought leadership content that appeals to every potential buyer. Let’s look at them thus;
Product usage: From the name, this type of thought leadership contains enough data on how products are being used. Data collected from your company product usage is highly valuable for buyers and users and can be used to drive leads and inform thought leadership.
Peer research: peer research goes an extra length to understand similar companies in the same industry as well as the ultimate product users. It explores marketer plans through reports on what they are trying to accomplish. The good thing about the result of such reports is that it drives your company to the top of the funnel.
Consumer research: this is another extremely effective type of thought leadership that is purely quantitative and relatively expensive. The content explains a review of consumer surveys on a range of brands or products, such as the web, mobile, email and more for the digital industry. Consumer research has a lot to do with the results of a research project. Such a research project could be on what motivates consumer interactions within each channel, when and how consumers use products and more. It also monitors the population of consumers and their interests, their responses and their challenges towards specific products and brands. It shows how committed and experienced your company is and also builds your credibility.
Experiential: This has a lot to do with experience. The content here comprises a wealth of first-hand experiences on the trends and reactions of customers towards a brand or product. It portrays customers’ experiences while providing room for ideas and solutions from your company. Experiential thought leadership content outlines how involved your company have been in the market through data and statistics you provide.
It is a strategy that works extremely well because it creates thought leadership through value-based and original content.
Here, we’ve given the four types of content that can boost your content strategy. However, these content are meant to supplement the sales, hence should not be the sales pitch.
To create an effective thought leadership content, you need to do the following;
Understand your audience: know who your target audience are, their wants and needs, their interests as well as their challenges. Also, carry out your research to find out those questions they often ask.
Provide valuable information: Your posts should be relevant. They should answer common questions and offer new ideas and business solutions. This will establish your company and its leaders as experts in the field. Also, show confidence by engaging your audience with one or more questions. This will help to build your credibility.
Consistently deliver fresh content: Your content should be unique and consistent. You can assign a team of content experts to regularly develop creative and engaging content that is relevant and answers the questions in the mind of your prospects. You can publish your content across channels such as press releases, websites, blogs and social media. They should be consistent.
It is possible to make your content the mindshare owner that enables the sales team to close the deal. It is up to you. This post is here to help you achieve this goal!
REFERENCES & FURTHER READING