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Building an Effective Thought Leadership Strategy


Why It's Worth Thinking about Thought Leadership

Today’s buyers are searching for solutions to their problems online, and they’ll buy from brands they feel they can trust. So how can you not only create awareness of your product or service for potential customers but also ensure them that your brand is credible enough to make a purchase?

Businesses in all industries and of all sizes can leverage content marketing to attract and engage with their target audience. Thought leadership is an important part of any content marketing strategy to establish expertise in your industry and lead buyers to grow comfortable with your brand. Here’s a closer look at the role of thought leadership in marketing and some tips for effectively putting your brand out there.

What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership is a public relations and marketing technique that can help create a sense of authority within your business space. Rather than heavily promoting your product, thought leadership is marketing on a higher level that demonstrates an individual’s expertise within an industry and indirectly builds brand awareness and trust. The goal is to express thoughts and opinions on your market segment to foster respect with your audience through your knowledgeable, and even novel, insight.

Traditionally, publishing articles in respected outlets has been the aspiration for executives and subject matter experts looking to position themselves as leaders. While this is still a valuable approach, companies have a variety of options for self-published content today — from blogs to podcasts to videos, social media posts and more.

Why is thought leadership good for marketing?
Effective thought leadership can be a powerful tool that enables your company to show value to your customers. Sharing your perspective, predictions and analysis can help you stand out from competitors and enhance your reputation as the go-to resource in your field. It can carry your prospects along their buyers journey as it promotes awareness, drives traffic to your site, and builds trust needed to convert leads.

Tips for effective thought leadership
Just as with anything in marketing, successful thought leadership takes strategy and planning. Here are some points to keep in mind as you consider implementing your content strategy.

  • Consider your target audience. What questions or pain points do they have? Develop buyers personas and keep topics educational and helpful in resolving their needs.
  • Stay current and informed. Consider topics that are in line with the latest news. Link to reputable sources and stats to portray an in-touch and intelligent tone.
  • Be authentic. Thought leadership is not the place to be promotional. While there are ways to subtly mention what you do or offer, content should be focused on a higher level than on your company.
  • Choose your platform. Are you a natural speaker? Maybe consider recording videos. Have a space to set up some mics? Host your own podcast series, or reach out to make a guest appearance on those of others. You can always turn the transcripts from these pieces into additional content like blogs or e-books to get even more exposure.
  • Keep SEO in mind. Thought leadership pieces can do double duty when you weave in your SEO strategy. In turn, keyword research can help you develop topics based on what your audience is searching.
  • Involve the whole team. While thought leaders are often CEOs or founders, pulling in your chief technology or policy officer, or other subject matter expert to speak to the appropriate topic can also be effective based on their area of expertise.
  • See what your competitors are up to. Check out what your competitors are doing, not only to see where they’ve set the bar but also where they missed the mark to discover how you can find opportunities to gain an edge.
  • Being understandable is better than sounding smart. While you want to sound intelligent, avoid too much industry jargon. When you’re speaking to a wider audience in a thought leadership piece, take time to spell out abbreviations and briefly cover the basics. There are always new entrants to the market and you can’t assume everyone knows everything. Bringing people up to speed can be another avenue to gain their trust.

Maintaining your perspective
Beyond business benefits, thought leadership can further your career by positioning you as an expert in your industry. Continually keeping your pulse on current events as well as what drives your audience and what keeps them up at night will ensure you’re choosing the topics that will generate the best responses.

Follow the conversations on social media. Stay in touch with your sales teams to learn what customers are asking and meet with your marketing department regularly to refine your buyers personas. As always, a well-thought-out strategy that is continually informed and updated by tracked results will create the best outcomes.

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