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Thought Leadership: Why You Should Be Using It to Succeed in Your Content Marketing

There’s no doubt that we live in the age of content. Content marketing is all the rage and everyone is competing for the attention and engagement of audiences. Amidst the jargon of the business world, you have probably heard of the term “thought leadership”. But what does it mean really? How does a business benefit from thought leadership and should you become a thought leader? In this article, we’ll look at why you might want to make it part of your content marketing.

What is Thought Leadership and Why Should You Consider It?

Thought leadership may seem like a big word that unconfident content marketers will shy away from, fearing a negative response.

But the truth of the matter is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to claim that title. If your business is consistently providing value and has a solid vision for its industry, it’s a good candidate to become a thought leader.

Photograph by  Ittoilmatar via Bigstock

Too many companies are still feeling their way through content marketing and trying to add their flavor to commonplace knowledge. Being a thought leader means that you go several steps beyond and demonstrate a level of insight that no competitor has. That insight can stem from deep expertise, extensive research and a flair for innovation. Thought leaders often answer questions such as:

  • What is the key factor of satisfaction for your customers?
  • What are your competitors really good at?
  • What data do you have to support your position?
  • What will be the state of the industry in five or ten years?
  • How are you going to respond to recent regulations in the market?

Through your content strategy, you answer the biggest questions about your industry’s key topics and trends, educating your audience and gaining influence in the process.

Thought leadership yields several benefits, most notably:

  • Reinforcing your brand
  • Building authority, thus earning the trust and engagement of your target audience
  • In fine, boosting your sales and growing your business

Thought leadership makes you stand out. All industries are crowded with businesses that say and sell the same thing. By making thought leadership a pillar of your content strategy, you demonstrate how your company is different and forward-thinking. It forces you to define the added value that you bring to the market and helps you generate more awareness and business.

How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry

Thought leadership requires having a vision for the industry and being more perceptive than the average player in the market. Start by taking an unambiguous stance on a topic relevant to your industry.

You need then to create a story for your brand, including where your business came from and what you stand for, your achievements and ambitions. Take the time to research the value you provide and hone your message. Ask your customers about their issues, frustrations, and desires. Identify their questions and find who can answer them in your team. Additionally, search your pool of talent for individuals who think outside the box and can come up with new ideas and angles.

After deciding on a storyline, choose the formats and content channels that your audience responds favorably to. If there are upcoming events in your industry, consider taking advantage of them to make your voice known.

Set a schedule for content design and release along with milestones. Create your content whilst adopting an energetic, consistent brand voice. Always conclude your content with calls to action.

You can even give a face to your story and assign a spokesperson to deliver your message. This is not an absolute necessity, but if you decide to take that route, make sure that the appointed person has:

  • Thorough understanding of what your company is about
  • The ability to explain in clear terms what you do and what makes you different
  • Strong speaking skills, passion and a certain level of charisma

It can pay off to be opinionated and disruptive. Provided that you have reliable data and solid arguments, break the mold and invite discussion. Monitor this process and keep an eye on how the competition will react.

That being said, adopting thought leadership will not necessarily make or break your business. Your highest priority should be serving your customers better than others. Not all businesses need to be thought leaders, after all. Some industries are more suited for it than others. But not considering thought leadership for your content strategy might lead to missed opportunities. Being derivative with your content won’t drive great results in this increasingly competitive world.

Take a good look at where your industry is at the moment and where you stand in it. By developing a point of view that is strongly perceptive and even disruptive, your brand will become a voice that everyone in the industry listens to.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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