Thought Leadership is a marketing strategy wherein yourself or your brand establishes themselves as a go-to authority, providing unique and insightful opinions in the industry.
Being a thought leader has many great advantages in terms of branding and customer loyalty, especially in the B2B industry. When you have a loyal fan-following who looks up to you for motivational and trust-worthy takeaways, your brand tends to naturally benefit from it in the long-run.
Jeff Bullas, Joe Pulizzi, Neil Patel, Ann Handley, Larry Kim and Rand Fishkin are some of the major influencers in the content marketing industry.
Traits of Thought Leaders
Nobody becomes a thought leader overnight. If you want to nurture yourself as a thought leader, you need to be active across popular social media channels (typical to your niche), reach out to others with help and constantly share your unique perspectives on current industry updates.
Developing thought leadership content is also an effective way to nurture yourself as a thought leader. Your thought leader content should have in-depth research, unique perspective, and remarkable value for your target audience.
Here are some of the qualities you need to nurture in order to establish yourself as a thought leader.
Solid Industry Knowledge
Strong industry knowledge is bare essential creating thought leadership content. In other words, your advice will resonate with your audience only when you know what you’re talking about. Therefore, you need to venture into an industry that you’re truly passionate about.
When we think of thought leaders, Brian Clark from Copyblogger, Brian Halligan from HubSpot, Joe Pulizzi from CMI and Rand Fishkin from Moz are some of the names that instantly come to our mind.
All of them share a common trait — they’re extremely passionate about their trade and always at the top of their game.
Awareness of Current Trends
The content marketing industry is changing rapidly. The best practices of today can get obsolete tomorrow.
Of course, when you’re passionate about your trade, you’re expected to to be at the top of the current trends in your industry. Your knowledge about the current events and trends should reflect in your narrative. Not only it makes your advice credible, but demonstrate your topical authority as well.
For example, if you’re a B2B content marketing professional, trying to establish yourself as a thought leader, your audience would expect you to learn the current industry trends including account based marketing, predictive analytics, AI, machine learning as well as any latest content marketing tools and trends.
Deep Understanding of Pain Points
In order to create thought leadership content, you need to develop a deep understanding of the real-life problems and your customers’ pain points.
To understand the common challenges of your prospects, you should be active at places your potential customers often visit. It could be LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Pages, Reddit, Twitter or even Slack Groups.
The deeper you dig in, the better understand their pain points.
Thought leaders create content that addresses specific challenges faced by their audience, which resonates with them and turn them into loyal fans.
Let’s take a look at the five most common ways you can build thought leadership content in your attempts to nurture yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
Use Simple Language
They say brevity is the soul of wit. While creating thought leadership content, make sure to use simple language with an active voice.
There is a difference between marketing speak and thought leadership. While marketing speak uses a ton of jargon, thought leaders speak from their heart and connect with their audience naturally.
According to George Orwell, never use a long word when a short one will do.
Indeed, the simplicity of your language plays a key role in making your content more readable.
After writing each paragraph, pause and reflect — “can my non-savvy coworker understand this content?”
Start with a Problem
One of the key features of thought leadership content is it has a purpose to solve an existing problem.
Always establish the ongoing challenges in your industry, and brainstorm practical solutions that are actually useful to your audience.
There’s little point in creating content which carries little value for your audience. In fact, creating ordinary content regularly will lower your credibility and you will lose your audience base gradually.
Offer a Solution to the Problem
The role of a thought leader doesn’t end with visualizing an existing or potential problem. It ends with offering a unique solution and demonstrating leadership through guidance.
Content marketers like Neil Patel and Brian Dean are perfect examples of thought leaders who spend a great deal of time in exploring challenges of content marketers and then write in-depth blog posts which are full of actionable tips that their audience can put to use right away.
Both of them have a unique way of presenting facts and approaching solutions to the common problems. No wonder then why they get a lot of positive comments and publicity for each and every blog post they write.
Use a Thought-provoking Title
As a content marketer, you may already be familiar with Buzzfeed-like clickbaits that work wonders for specific audience segments. However, a similar strategy may not really be appropriate while addressing a B2B audience.
If you’re an ardent follower of thought leaders on LinkedIn and Medium, you may have seen how they craft their titles that are not only eye-catching but sound credible enough.
While there are no set rules that work every time, your titles should be short and self-explanatory. Sometimes, depending on the context, you can craft titles that challenge common wisdom to grab eyeballs.
- 6 Ways to Write Titles That Capture Your Audience’s Attention
- How to Write Strong Titles and Headlines By CopyPress
Make it Interactive
How do thought leaders connect with their audience?
Whether you’re doing a powerpoint presentation or writing a piece of content, you should make sure it’s thoroughly interactive and visually engaging.
Thought leaders have a unique way to share their content with their audience. They’re creative, entertaining and influential in every way possible.
So, how does an interactive and engaging piece of content look like?
Check out this SlideShare by Rand Fishkin.
Each and every slide is well thought out and designed to entertain the audience and keep them hooked to the slideshare.
That’s how thought leaders treat their audience — offering immense value while entertaining them.
This is exactly what you need to prioritize while creating content for your audience.
Here’s a brilliant example of an interactive content piece.
As the content marketing space is getting noisier by the day, thought leadership can help marketers stand out from the crowd and build their loyal followers. By sharing deep insights on current events and writing great thought leadership content, content marketers can set themselves apart from the competition.
About the Author
Susanta Sahoo is founder and chief content marketing strategist at Top League Technologies, a digital marketing start-up in Bhubaneswar, India. By offering SEO consulting services, he helps SMB’s build their online presence and boost ROI. Follow him on Twitter: @ugosus.