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If you've ever wondered what thought leadership is and how your business can use it, then click through to find out.
Thought leadership is a tactic that's deployed by many leading brands in many competitive sectors.
But the good news, you don’t need to become a market leader to produce compelling thought leadership content. In fact, it’s really the other way around.
Producing exceptional thought leadership content steers many brands to become innovative market drivers. Around 65% of brands already include thought leadership in their content marketing strategy, with close to 30% planning to start soon.
But what exactly is thought leadership and how do you create noteworthy thought leadership content?
Thought leadership: what it is and why it’s so powerful
Thought leadership is a type of content marketing that pulls from the knowledge, experience, and insights of the author or their team to be shared with others.
Whether through a provocative opinion piece, primary research findings from a recent study, or even an interview with the talent in your business, thought leadership is about sharing expertise on any subject within a field.
According to research, most people associate thought leadership with “inspirational content that drives change,” closely followed by “educational content” and “content exploring industry trends.”
Traditionally, you’ll see thought leadership articles, blog posts, whitepapers, or ebooks. But it can also be podcasts, videos, infographics, or social media posts.
Why should you use thought leadership in your content marketing strategy?
There are countless benefits to creating valuable thought leadership content. We’ve listed a handful of them below.
First and foremost, producing consistent and compelling thought leadership is the key to getting you or your brand noticed within the market. When you have something different to say, you can grow a community of people who want to listen.
Once you’ve established a pool of thought leadership content, it will begin to work passively in favour of your brand. The press, bloggers, and other media will continue to use your content, helping further promote your brand.
Become an authority in your field
With a growing community that regularly tunes into your content comes a natural sense of authority.
People discuss your opinions, findings or expertise with one another, citing you as their credible source.
Build brand trust
When your brand has secured a position of authority in your market, people will turn to your content over your competitors. You can earn a sense of trust through your dependable thought leadership content.
This trust will permeate beyond your content into your products and services.
Attract new customers and retain existing clients
Brands that have earned the market's trust through thought leadership tend to outperform their competitors in sales.
New customers are more likely to bring their business to a trusted brand, and existing ones stay loyal.
Examples of thought leadership content in action
You're probably reading and enjoying thought leadership content more often than you realise.
We’ve pulled together some excellent examples of brands leveraging thought leadership to their advantage.
Heights is a health and wellness supplements brand. The brand owes its rise to success to a regular content marketing email brimming with educational, thought leadership content.
People would forward these emails to one another, excited to learn more about how their minds and bodies function.
With just one glance at their blog, you can find:
- A brain health quiz
- A debate around the importance of supplements vs diets
- A breakdown of myths in the industry
- The biggest questions in the industry answered
Shopify are thought leaders in the e-commerce space. Everyone from small businesses setting up their first shop to the brand giants knows about Shopify — and most of them probably use it.
So, how did they do it?
Shopify’s blog is full of consistently valuable content. Not only do they answer the big questions, but they showcase their customers’ success through compelling case studies.
Learn more about what makes a great B2B case study here.
Hubspot is fundamentally a CRM product. Yet they’re known for being so much more than that. Like each of our examples, HubSpot also runs a successful blog. They further differentiate themselves with a vault full of valuable resources.
From webinars to ebooks, social media content templates and more, HubSpot have established themselves as the experts in sales and marketing.
This example is a little different because it’s based on a personal brand rather than a company.
Steven Bartlett is considered a thought leader in entrepreneurship for regularly sharing his thoughts, advice, and opinions. He first built his reputation by sharing these thoughts on social media. He then started what would become one of the most listened-to podcasts in the world.
Steven has found multiple outlets for his thought leadership content, including interviews with reputable publications like the Telegraph and features in Think With Google.
How to create thought leadership content
Now that you know what thought leadership is, the benefits of producing it, and some solid examples, it’s time to consider creating it for your brand.
Step 1: Sources of inspiration and information
As Mark Twain once said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.”
Although your thought leadership content will be new and original, you’ll need a source of inspiration.
Here are some ideas to get your creative cogs turning:
- Look up industry news or changes and share your fresh take
- Conduct some primary research, then share your findings
- Put together a case study based on work that has taught you something new
- Write an analysis of the current state of your industry — i.e. what’s working? What’s not working? Etc.
At Scribly, we usually start our thought leadership content off with a conversation or interview with a senior member of your team or business. During this interview, we can better understand their personal opinion on a topic or case study and frame it in a way that would be interesting to readers in your field.
Step 2: Planning
Next, you’ll need to work out the following:
- Who is the target audience specifically? The more specific, the better.
- What question or questions does your thought leadership answer? What does your audience really want to know?
- What is the hook of your content that will draw in readers and catch their attention?
- How does this piece of thought leadership content add value to your business? Does it reaffirm the need for your product or service? Does it showcase the talent of your team?
- Is the thought leadership content aligned with the values and mission of your brand?
Step 3: Writing
This is arguably the most difficult part of thought leadership.
You may have hundreds of thoughts and ideas racing through your mind, but being able to put them down on paper succinctly is a talent in itself.
Beyond that, it’s extremely time-consuming. Those best placed to produce thought leadership are usually the busiest, and finding the time isn’t easy.
Scribly offers a blog post and interview service as a dedicated product for thought leadership content. We’ve helped many businesses capture and convey persuasive thought leadership — and we can help you too!
Step 4: Distribution
Having powerful thought leadership content is one thing. Getting it out in the world for people to read is another.
But before you do anything, it’s always a good idea to have someone you trust — who falls within your target audience — sense-check your work.
Once it’s truly ready to go, it’s time to get sharing. Don’t forget to:
- Share it on social media
- Send an email to subscribers
- Generate press interest — this works particularly well for research-based content.
Your partners in outstanding thought leadership
Implementing thought leadership into your content marketing strategy is a no-brainer.
If you’re looking for an agency to help you refine and deliver your thought leadership content in a way that will resonate with your audience, look no further than Scribly.
Want to know more about our thought leadership services? Get a quote today.