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Empowering your brand through thought leadership: The secret sauce for an effective strategy

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Before you can sell your product or service to the market, you need to create awareness — about your company, its vision and competitive advantage. One great way to do this

is to use marketing channels to promote thought leadership developed by your company’s subject matter experts. Embracing thought leadership as an integral part of your marketing strategy is a powerful approach to solidify your brand's influence, drive business growth, and create lasting relationships within your industry.

“Being a thought leader is one way to establish yourself as an expert whose opinion people should trust, which can bring them to your company when they need resources,” writes Martin Rowinski, CEO of Boardsi, in a Forbes article.

Thought leadership is a marketing tactic that demonstrates your company’s expertise and vision in certain areas to help to build credibility and trust with customers and elevate your reputation. It goes beyond simply sharing knowledge about a topic to describe how your company sees the market or industry evolving and your involvement in shaping it. Through blogs, videos, speaking engagements, third-party articles, white papers and other vehicles you can share your company’s vision for the future. The more your company becomes associated with a topic, the more people will view your organization as a trusted source of information and advice. And eventually, if they find themselves in need of a related solution, they will already know who your company is and, hopefully, consider your offerings.

While thought leadership strategies are relatively straightforward, there are nuances to getting it right. Keep these points in mind when developing your own plan:

  1. Offer people something useful without asking for anything in return. Maybe subject-matter experts in your company understand pending regulations, emerging technology or international laws that will impact the industry – those experts can offer their vision of how these triggers may change the landscape and advice for dealing with them to customers and prospects. But steer clear of trying to sell a related solution or service in the same marketing motion. The point here is to showcase your company’s vision for how customers can be successful; a related sale can come later. Many companies have even started ungating their thought leadership content in order to influence as many people as possible.

  2. Separate thought leadership from knowledge. Sharing how-to information is helpful for existing customers, but won’t necessarily attract new ones who aren’t familiar with your products yet. Your goal with thought leadership should be to raise eyebrows as well as awareness; to make a name for yourself in your industry.

  3. Stress the leadership in thought leadership. If your content says the same thing that your competitors’ does, you’re likely to get lost in the noise. Bold thought leadership stands out from the crowd and helps people remember you. It’s okay to go out on a limb with a prediction or vision as long as you use conditional language (for example “Chances are the industry will see more of these types of privacy regulations in the coming years.”) and you state your case for why you believe what you do.

Creating an effective thought leadership marketing strategy requires careful planning and execution. Here are the steps to help you develop a successful thought leadership marketing strategy:

  • Define your target audience. Identify the specific decision-makers, industry professionals, and potential customers you want to reach with your thought leadership content. Understand their needs, pain points, and interests to tailor your content accordingly.

  • Conduct in-depth industry research. Stay up-to-date on industry trends, market challenges, and emerging topics of interest. This research will help you identify knowledge gaps and unique insights you can address in your thought leadership content.

  • Develop a content strategy. Plan the types of content you will create, such as blog posts, articles, white papers, videos, podcasts, or webinars. Consider the formats that resonate best with your target audience. Create an editorial calendar to ensure a consistent flow of content.

  • Provide valuable insights. Focus on delivering high-quality, insightful, and unique content that addresses the pain points and challenges of your target audience. Offer practical solutions, share best practices, and provide actionable advice that demonstrates your expertise.

  • Leverage multiple channels to amplify your content. Identify the most effective channels to distribute your thought leadership content and promote it across those channels. This could include your company blog, social media platforms, industry publications, guest blogging opportunities, webinars, podcasts, or speaking engagements. Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and paid advertising to maximize visibility and reach a wider audience.

  • Cultivate relationships with industry influencers. Engage with thought leaders, industry experts, and influencers in your space. Collaborate on content, participate in industry events, or contribute guest posts to their platforms. These relationships can enhance your thought leadership reach and credibility

  • Measure and refine. Determine the specific goals you want to achieve with your thought leadership strategy — such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, positioning your company as an industry expert, or fostering trust and credibility. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of your thought leadership in achieving those goals. Track metrics such as website traffic, engagement rates, lead generation, and conversion rates. Analyze the results regularly and make adjustments based on data insights.

  • Foster a thought leadership culture internally. Your organization is full of subject matter experts — encourage and empower them to contribute to thought leadership initiatives. Foster a culture that values and rewards knowledge sharing, research, and expertise within your organization.

Remember that thought leadership is a long-term strategy that requires consistency, quality, and ongoing efforts. By following these steps and continuously refining your approach, you can establish your company as a trusted industry authority and drive significant marketing and business outcomes.

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