Late last year, business2community proclaimed 2016 was the year of ‘thought leadership driven content marketing’. It claimed thought leadership was changing the very way content marketing was practiced, and all successful content marketing programs of the new year would have it as part of the overall strategy.
What is thought leadership?
Genuine thought leaders are experts — often in niche areas — whose opinions shape and challenge perceptions in their field.
It sounds great, right? No wonder being a ‘thought leader’ is marketing gold. Little wonder then that in recent years it has become a buzzword term in the marketing and communications industry. It’s so overused, with so many public speakers and social media aficionados applying the label to themselves, that you can be forgiven for thinking the term simply meant a confident thinker or speaker.
You can’t become a thought leader overnight. You have to be experienced, knowledgeable, reliable and trustworthy, with a good track record of leadership in your field.
How does thought leadership accomplish marketing goals?
You can establish yourself as a thought leader through your content marketing activity. Content marketing helps keep you and your business front-of-mind with those who are consuming your blog posts, videos, e-newsletters, etc.
Once you are recognised as a thought leader, you also have a far greater chance of getting coverage in the media, thereby compounding the idea that you’re the go-to person in your field. With an eye for good information, journalists will instantly be attracted to true thought leaders and be able to distinguish from those who merely talk the talk.
How to build thought leadership into your content marketing strategy
Thought leadership is about building relationships. The title is earned through trust and reliability. Publishing consistent, quality content is the best way to demonstrate this to your audience.
Allow experienced members of staff with particular expertise to share their views, too. They are an asset — use them. If your in-house experts aren’t natural writers or are time-poor, get another person to interview them and write an article on their behalf.
If you haven’t got in-house thought leaders, or you’re looking to diversify the thought leadership you’re putting out there, you might want to invite relevant experts to be guest bloggers. Getting well-known names behind your brand lends their credibility to your content, as audiences assume well-informed thought leaders would be selective about what brands they do and don’t support.
How does thought leadership work for a B2C business?
In a business-to-consumer context, the average person does not have expertise in the area of your business. For this reason, consumers are looking to thought leaders for expertise, advice and direction. They want the benefit of your experience and education.
What about in B2B enterprises?
In a business-to-business context, the communicator and the audience are on more of an equal footing when it comes to knowledge and expertise. In this instance, a B2B audience will respond to a thought leader who challenges the status quo or accepted norms — they are seeking someone who can bring new perspectives to existing issues and trends.
If you’d like help creating a marketing strategy that considers thought leadership, contact Lush – The Content Agency. We love planning new ways for businesses to communicate through content.