Creating thought leadership content

Thought leadership is about building a profile in your industry as the ‘go to’ expert on a particular topic.  Anyone who is truly an expert in their field can adopt a thought leadership approach.

A thought leader will generate insights – usually articles, videos, Podcasts etc – which help their audience to gain a better understanding of a common problem, or a new way of looking at a particular issue.

It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complex. You could start out by simply producing a series of quality articles, guides or blog posts on topics that will help your audience.

From there, you can build up a library of articles and resources which are housed on your website or blog, enabling visitors to access interesting material when they need it.

With consistency, this sort of content marketing can be a great way to gain credibility among potential customers as it gives you the chance to showcase your expertise.

Could you be a thought leader?

It may not be a description you’re used to, but you can be a thought leader if you:

  • Understand your subject inside out, keep up-to-date with the latest thinking and enjoy talking about it.
  • Have direct experience in implementing your expertise, know what works and what doesn’t.
  • Understand the knowledge gaps and problems experienced by your potential customers.  Most importantly, understand how your expertise can help.
  • Consistently communicate your thoughts and ideas in an interesting and compelling way.

What does a thought leader do?

We would suggest that you begin small and work up.  So look at producing one or two quality articles/guides for your website and marketing email per month and work up from there.  You should definitely prioritise quality over quantity.

If you are surrounded by a team, ease the pressure by identifying subject matter experts to generate content about their particular area.

Producing thought leadership content

The first challenge is to come up with ideas for thought leadership articles which will be of interest to your audience.

Get started by thinking about what matters most to your current customers or prospects.  What issues are they grappling with? What questions are they asking you? What do they not understand? What advice can you offer?  This will help you figure out what subjects you need to cover.

Then think about the format of the information you need to produce.  Will an article or blog post suffice, or do you need an infographic to support?  Or would a video blog or pdf download be a better way?

Next, put together an editorial calendar which includes the title of your article and a brief synopsis.  Don’t be surprised if some of your ideas unravel at this stage – re-work as necessary!

Prioritise the time required to produce quality articles. 

While you may know your subject inside out, it’s not always easy to write it down!  Set aside a reasonable amount of time to research and write a quality article/video blog, and enlist the help of other subject matter experts such as colleagues or suppliers, if necessary.

Promote your content

You’ll need to create a platform for your content, then promote it to build your audience.

In the past, companies sought a thought leadership profile by gaining coverage in the media, producing brochures and newsletters and making speeches at industry events.

Nowadays, you can do that as well as establish a blog, send out email newsletters, set up a YouTube channel, design an infographic, produce a Podcast, engage via social media…the list of potential outlets is growing all the time!

Put some effort into branding your thought leadership platform.  Make your website and blog look the part, ensure your Facebook profile is up-to-date etc – if it looks good it will better reflect your professionalism and people will be more likely to read and respond to your content.

Publicise your content among your customers and prospects by sending them an email containing the introduction and link to your new article. Make sure you have an email capture form on your website, so visitors can opt to receive your emails.

You could even consider sending the piece to your industry media. Editors are always on the lookout for interesting, insightful comment from subject matter experts.

Build your profile

The combination of good thought leadership content and a robust publishing and promotion strategy will help you build an audience which engages with and shares your content. Done well, it’s a great way to promote your business and demonstrate your expertise, sending a strong message to your existing and prospective customers.