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Thought leadership has become increasingly important in recent years, as marketing and public relations activities have moved beyond more traditional strategies. Executives, marketers and salespeople alike recognize the importance of establishing a presence within an organization’s given sector as a leader rather than a follower. Consequently, establishing thought leadership can be an incredibly useful means of building both a personal and brand reputation.
From a marketing perspective, thought leadership can form an essential part of a successful content marketing strategy. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the concept and execution of thought leadership and how you can use it to your advantage.
Provide unique value.
Whether the primary basis of your organization is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, the core of thought leadership is about having the answers to the questions that your target audience finds most important. However, just having the answers isn’t enough. Wherever appropriate, you must also be able to provide unique insights and perspective to the topic that is distinct from those offered by your competitors. Effective thought leadership occurs when your distinctive expertise and passion align with the interests and needs of the audience that you are making an effort to engage.
Like any effective content, thought leadership pieces — whether they take the form of a magazine article, online blog or video content — must deliver genuine value for the audience. They should inform and educate and, perhaps more importantly, help audiences in their decision-making processes. This applies to business-to-consumer interactions but is particularly relevant in business-to-business relationships. You should be helping your customer or client identify or recognize their problem, needs or requirements, and pointing them toward a solution.
Leverage additional perspectives.
If you are producing content to establish a position of thought leadership for your organization, remember to take advantage of the full breadth of knowledge and insight of your employees, regardless of seniority. Arguably, the most common approach is for thought leadership articles to be written and published by CEOs or other C-level figures. But bear in mind that individuals within various functions — at all levels of your business — can be in a position to provide unique perspectives and deliver insightful solutions for your target audience. Talk to your managers, product designers, marketing and sales people, customer service staff and even your customers to gain insights and perspectives that can drive your thought leadership content.
Ultimately, establishing your organization as a thought leader in its industry or sector is about building trust, credibility and authority, as well as rapport, and using this connection to build your brand reputation.
To build this trust, it’s important to:
• Be tactful and create content that is valuable for readers.
• Avoid being promotional or salesy.
• Aim to stick to messages that can be applied widely by others in your industry.
• Stay up to date on topics relevant to your audience to ensure you’re sharing knowledge that can be implemented in real time.
• Only share content that is unique; never try to present someone else’s insight as your own.
With these strategies, readers will discover your thought leadership to be insightful and will start to looking forward to your content.
When implemented effectively, this reputation boost can feed directly into your public relations activities. Magazines, newspapers and other media outlets will be more receptive to interviews and quotes from your executives and other members of your team when it comes to commenting on topical issues relating to your industry. In some ways, it could be argued that this is the final goal of establishing thought leadership: cementing your position as a trustworthy authority and the go-to expert in your field.