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Do you want to be a thought leader in your field?
A thought leader is someone who offers guidance and insight to those around them. They help others with their knowledge and experience in a particular topic.
To cement your reputation as a thought leader in your industry, you need to have strategic thought-leadership content. But what exactly is thought-leadership content? How do you create it?
In this post, discover the essential things you need to know about thought-leadership content. Also, learn from the examples of established thought-leaders to inspire and guide you in crafting high-quality content for thought-leadership marketing.
Thought leadership content presents your brand as a leading, authoritative voice in your industry.
It aims to inform, educate, provide insights and help answer the biggest questions in your audience’s minds.
This type of content is based on unique perspectives, experiences, and resources that inform the philosophy of your brand and your product.
You share this content to build credibility, trust, and ultimately, loyalty.
Remember, thought leadership content is:
While thought leadership content is used as a content marketing tool, remember that it takes a customer-first approach. It is not entirely about what you know.
Rather, it is what your audience wants and needs to know from you.
Remember what it is and what it is not to effectively position yourself as a leader in your field.
Thought leadership content comes in different formats, such as:
Writing blog posts and articles is one of the most common and effective ways to demonstrate expertise in your niche.
It requires you to consistently publish posts about topics that resonate with your market.
By publishing new content in your blog, you are showing how well-versed you are in your field.
This consistency eventually builds a following to your blog which helps boost your credibility.
Look at some thought leaders in your industry. Chances are, they have authored at least one book or white paper about their subject matter.
Writing eBooks and white papers may require time for in-depth research, but it isn’t as demanding as maintaining a blog schedule.
The heavier graphics and thorough content also provide real value to your audience, which in turn, position you as an authority in your field.
Conducting your own surveys, research, and data gathering instead of relying on existing reports can make you stand out from the crowd.
As a thought leader, your followers expect you to provide something new to the field.
Presenting original research and insights about your industry satisfies this need, which in turn, establishes thought leadership.
We live in a visual world, that’s why videos and infographics make for great thought leadership content.
Both types are easy to digest and engaging to users. This is especially true for videos, which is a consumer’s favorite type of content to see from brands on social media.
That said, consider creating explainer videos and interactive infographics to inform and engage your audience.
Your brand recognition grows the more you appear in media interviews, articles, features, and industry-related websites and blogs.
The more people recognize your brand, the more you’ll be perceived as a thought leader.
So, it is also important to work on content outside your current platforms.
Build relationships with the press, contribute guest articles, and get your name out there.
Just like media appearances, getting active in virtual events can give your reputation a significant boost.
Aim to participate in conferences, trades, and exhibits not only as an attendee but as a speaker when possible.
Speaking engagements are particularly crucial in building your resume as a thought leader.
If you can, hold your own webinars and podcasts to build yourself. In the new normal, it’s still a must to make human connections with the people in your field.
As a thought leader, your primary goal is to teach your followers. Thus, creating a learning hub for your audience is crucial to your success.
Offer training resources, programs, courses, and events that will help your users solve their problems, alongside the other forms of content mentioned above.
Based on the types above, let’s look at some brands that are doing great with their thought leadership content. Take inspiration from these brands so you can create effective content for thought leadership.
Acorns may be a company offering financial investments, but they know not to oversell their services with their content. Instead, they make good use of their blog to tackle the more interesting side of financing.
To appeal to their audience, they publish content revolving around saving, spending, and earning that people could highly relate to. They also partnered with news provider CNBC and built a team of financial experts to boost the blog’s credibility.
This sincerity to help people make the most out of their money earns them a spot on this list.
Takeaway: Be helpful.
When it comes to building authority, publishing whitepapers is a surefire way to get the job done. Education technology company Degreed recognizes this, which is made evident by their thorough and well-designed whitepapers.
It is a smart move for Degreed to leverage this type of content as whitepapers are often perceived to be highly-authoritative. This especially works when your target markets are entrepreneurs and businesses, who usually look for real value from brands.
Takeaway: Provide real value to your audience.
Data is a powerful tool to establish thought leadership. And for for-profit enterprise Burning Glass Technologies, it is one key to stand out from the competition.
The said brand uses data to become a formidable name in its field. Together with industry authorities like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Burning Glass Technologies offers a wealth of original content from raw info about labor and the job market.
As the brand brings something new to the table, it gets a huge chunk of attention from the community.
Takeaway: Add to the conversation.
When it comes to creating video content for thought leadership, Marie Forleo does it spot-on.
It is truly impressive how she handles her web series, MarieTV. Not only does she create videos that help people create a business and life they love. She also goes the extra mile addressing her audience’s problems.
One notable thing about her content is her effort to answer questions from her viewers every week. She does this with much gusto, not only answering on her YouTube channel but also on her website. This genuine care to help her audience has earned her a loyal following.
Takeaway: Engage with your community.
From one host to another, Oprah Winfrey’s brand is built around authenticity.
People follow Oprah’s content because it’s genuine. She opens her stories to the world to empower other people. She isn’t afraid to share her experiences, joyful or sad, to encourage her audience to embrace their own stories. And this genuineness translates well to her content, whatever the format.
Throughout the years, she remained herself and taught us that thought leadership isn’t just about your knowledge. It is also about being who you are, not just as a brand, but as a person. And that this genuineness should reflect on your content.
Takeaway: Be authentic.
In industries like digital marketing, agency leaders are often strapped for time. If you’re targeting these people, how do you get them to consume your content?
Drew McLellan knew exactly what agency heads need, that’s why he created the Build a Better Agency Podcast. His 30-45 minutes long podcasts are just what busy leaders need to get educated on how they can improve their agencies.
By thinking of his audience’s needs, he was able to appeal to them and get a fair share of their time.
Takeaway: Think of your audience’s needs.
While getting interviewed sure can help with your thought leadership journey, interviewing people can also boost your reputation. The First Round Review blog is proof of that.
The said venture capital firm spends its time interviewing entrepreneurs. The people behind the blog seek thought leadership advice from real companies to feature on the website.
Through this approach, the First Round Review blog has managed to get media attention as well as a positive response from the community.
Takeaway: Reach out to other experts in your field.
Here’s another brand that doesn’t just rely on its own expertise.
Business Class by American Express is a blog for small businesses. Previously called Open Forum, this blog lets their business customers post content on their website.
Along with their team of writers, content from business owners make up American Express’s blog. This cumulative effort to provide a thought leadership hub gives Business Class a spot on our list.
Takeaway: Build a community.
In the marketing world, HubSpot is a respected brand well-known for its top-notch automation tools. However, people’s recognition of this brand doesn’t just end with their software products.
This company brand is also admired for its free online knowledge hub, HubSpot Academy. Here, you will find training resources for professionals and entrepreneurs aiming to grow their careers and businesses. They offer certification programs and practical courses to help their customer base and visitors.
Takeaway: Educate your audience. Successful thought leaders aren’t only experts, but they are also excellent teachers.
What can we learn from the examples above?
When developing your thought leadership content, you have to take into account the following elements to pull off an effective content marketing strategy.
Content is an essential tool to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. As such, you should understand what exactly is thought leadership content to know how you can create it.
Remember: There is no such thing as the “best” content. What works for one brand may not work for another. Thought leadership content comes in many formats, and it is up to you to discover which will work best for your message.
However, there are definite elements that you need to consider when creating content. The examples of thought leadership content above should guide and inspire you as you develop your own content marketing strategy.
Here’s a pro-tip: Work on solidifying your personal brand. Building a personal brand is one of the greatest things you can do for your career
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