If done right, thought leadership marketing can be the strongest form of content marketing you can produce. But what is it and what does good thought leadership content look like?
Thought leadership is a term you hear a lot in marketing circles, so much so that its meaning has become fuzzy. The world is saturated with messaging, telling you to look at this, so how can you stand out and grab people’s attention in the right way? Hidden amid the mass of marketing messages, is a style of content marketing that is authentic, credible, and really works.
So what is thought leadership marketing?
Thought leadership marketing is not a type of content but rather an approach to producing meaningful content. Its an approach to planning how you want to be perceived by your industry as a whole. For example, I want my company/brand to be seen as an authority on a subject, or I want my audience to see our company as a source of insight and value.
In short, it is sharing your knowledge or expertise for free, to your audience in a way that creates the desired perception. The ideas do not have to be completely original, but for it to be effective, the content needs to be authentic and belong to you and your brand in a way that is recognizable. Content marketing is not obvious promotion, but rather content that shows you know what you are talking about and demonstrates your ability and your authentic value in your field. By doing this right, you are in fact promoting your company and brand in a much more powerful way.
So how can I create good thought leadership content?
Share your experience: There are many sources of great thought leadership content. One of the most valuable is your earned perspective through your experience. Sometimes you do something and learn from it, so you have earned experience. And sometimes you just see something nobody else does, and that is no less valuable to share. Great thought leadership can simply be in the form of sharing your experience and what you have learned.
Analysis: Another great source of thought leadership content is analysis. Analysis on the industry and world around you. If you are truly a player in your industry, you will have an authentic opinion and voice. What is happening, what is working, what is not and why do you think so? These are topics that, if authentic, will find an audience and provide value to readers in a real way.
Counter-narrative opinion: If you have a counter-opinion to an established narrative, this can also provide valuable thought leadership content. For example, if you hold a real opinion that you can stand behind, that is counter to a popular opinion, there will be an audience who want to find out why. It’s not enough to simply be contrary or provocative, but if you have a real point to make, this can make for great thought leadership content.
In short, thought leadership is sharing real genuine advice, experience, or opinion, and that is difficult to fake. Because it comes from a real place, it holds substance which adds an organic credibility to what you are doing. Think of stories, points of view or opinions that you might have to share about your industry or the world around you, it is more valuable than you think.
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