Consumers are nearly drowning in information. For any problem, a quick online search brings up thousands of results, with copious solutions preached by an endless list of sources.
If you are investing in content marketing, it is your goal to be at the top of those search results with the most trusted solution. You want to be the expert opinion people seek.
You want to be a thought leader.
Thought leaders are more than just bloggers, content creators or subject matter experts who present at events. Thought leaders drive conversations and influence their industries. (And yes, a company can be a thought leader.)
Publishing thought leadership content can be instrumental in growing your business. In the white paper Branding for Growth: A C-Level Strategy, Ken Wincko, PR Newswire Senior Vice President of Marketing, states, “You’re not going to get anywhere today if you don’t have a credible, unique story… Your content needs to provide value to the reader—be it fresh entertainment or problem solving.”
Brands looking to publish thought leadership must invest time and significant effort into crafting sought-after content that will resonate with clients and industry peers alike.
So how does one elevate content to that next level?
Here are four important qualities found in great thought leadership content.
Thought leaders create the news instead of simply sharing it. Before you can start marketing yourself and your company as an expert source, you need to have content—and the successful things your company is doing will be the best place to start.
Shaking up the conversation in your industry often requires trying something new, experimenting with or developing new methodology and then proving the success of your initiatives. If you have any successful programs, finding a new way to describe them can provide an innovative look into your industry. The work your company or brand is doing is what will shape the story you will tell as you craft thought leadership content.
Once you have your story, or the news you are creating, you need to share it. Content marketing, first and foremost, is about providing information for your target audience or client base. The goal of your thought leadership content should be providing valuable information that will address the questions your audience has.
It’s not enough to write a blog post and hope someone sees it. The key to differentiating your high-level content is to reach as many people as possible with your information by creating multiple types of content across several different platforms.
Upload presentations to SlideShare, post videos to YouTube, and share across your social networks. Send a press release that directs more traffic to your blog, or anywhere your content can be found. Spreading your news as far as possible will help establish your credibility, setting you up to become a sought-after source of information and building your potential client base in the process.
Great thought leadership goes a step beyond simply sharing information: It is consultative in nature, helping nurture others to achieve success. When crafting thought leadership content, be sure to focus on being a helpful resource to your clients as well as your peers in the industry.
This type of content is not advertising-based marketing. And while it may feel counterintuitive to give ideas away for free, the positive impact this will have on your company’s reputation will be worth it in the end. Establishing yourself not only as an expert but as a helpful resource and partner to your network will generate demand for your company’s services.
A great leader is one who inspires. As a thought leader, you should harness your expertise to spark meaningful change in your industry through the content you provide. It’s not enough to be innovative. Simply sharing your ideas or being helpful does not a leader make. Bring a positive attitude and determination to have an impact, and your audience may just begin to look to your brand as a thought leader.
It’s hard to teach someone how to be inspirational; however, encouraging thoughtfulness is a good place to start. After all, leaders are rarely made—they are chosen. You may aspire to be a thought leader, but the consumers of your content will make you one.
Listen to your audience–be it via social media monitoring or through first-hand client interactions–to determine what needs you can address through your content. This sort of engagement not only informs your content strategy, but connects you to your audience in a way that will establish you as a thoughtful resource worth following.
Give your audience a reason to choose you as their leader, and the rest will fall into place.
One final thing to remember: Thought leadership is about educating, not directly selling your products or services. Communicating thought leadership can bring your company into the early stages of a buyer’s journey, generating increased brand awareness and making you a sought-after expert in your industry.
Author Danielle Capriato is the manager of strategic communications at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @dcapriato.
2 Comments on Blog Post Title
Thank you, Danielle! I always read your articles; they are always actual, interesting and cool. Your phrase that a great leader is one who inspires is not new, but you explained it so in details as no one before.
This is a powerful and useful article. I have to write a "Thought Leadership" paper for a client tonight. I did not have a handle on it until I read your article. Thanks Danielle.