Thought leadership campaigns are incredibly beneficial for a brand when its leaders can be convinced of the ROI. And it’s not only the ROI they are concerned with. They need to know that being vulnerable and going public with their insights is something people are actually interested in—and that their participation will have a positive outcome for the company, and themselves.
What are you thinking?
It can be difficult to convince someone that they are a thought leader. It’s not a term we generally title ourselves with, or something we use to describe someone in daily conversation.
Which is strange because it’s not a new or foreign concept. Society looks to those who are passionate, credible and influential in their field for advice and insight. Anyone—in any industry—with those traits can be a thought leader.
But answering, “what are you thinking?” can be uncomfortable for those in leadership positions. They have the brand, their employees, stakeholders and their own personal reputations to consider.
It’s important to take time to strategize and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of leadership messaging. Then, consider the best way to get that messaging out and talked about.
The trick is turning a leader’s thoughts into consumable, top-of-mind content.
In this digital world, it’s safe to assume the competence of your audience when it comes to researching and buying online. Buyers typically consume 3-5 pieces of content amid purchase decisions according to Demand Gen Report’s 2020 Content Preferences Study
Consumers want to know they are making purchases from legitimate organizations. They are savvy and will research brand reputation and reviews—meaning, if a brand isn’t prominent online, they’ll find it nearly impossible to establish themselves as an authority.
That’s where thought leadership content comes in.
Let’s say someone is looking for a dog groomer. They ask other dog owners in their area for a recommendation. What does a typical consumer do? They look up the suggestions online.
Here’s what they find:
- One groomer has a website with a free, downloadable guide to grooming different breeds, a TikTok channel with videos of their sessions, and links to other reputable sources that feature the owner in relevant media content.
- The other has a Facebook page with photos of dogs post-grooming and 4.5-star reviews.
Both look good. Who do they contact first to set up an appointment?
Humanizing a brand with thought leadership
The goal of producing thought leadership content is to provide value and keep a company top of mind when consumers look for products or services. This value is in addition to business-orientated content for targeted audiences—it’s the personal, connectable, human element people will appreciate and stay loyal to.
Reluctant, confident, humble or outspoken; it can take some convincing to encourage leaders to be vulnerable and share thoughts and opinions publicly. Try showing them the idea through a different lens: thought leadership is an opportunity to connect with the people they are inspired to serve.
Lead the conversation
Thought leadership content should have a genuine voice that offers insights as the expert resource for the topic at hand. Successful campaigns:
- Know the audience
- Provide quality, valuable content in a variety of forms (organic and paid)
- Fill the gaps competitors are missing
- Use SEO research to create content based on highly searched topics
- Monitor analytics to determine content strengths and weaknesses
There are so many ways to lead a conversation that resonates with the audience. Find one way that feels comfortable to start with and consider adding others as confidence builds.
- Make sure the brand’s website has an active blog and valuable resources like case studies/use cases/testimonials/ebooks
- Produce informational videos and courses
- Host or present at webinars and podcasts
- Publish engaging newsletters
- Share tips, how-to’s, best practices, infographics
- Write articles for industry-relevant publications
- Use social media to share expertise and engage on posts to start conversations and foster community
- Utilize platforms like Quora or Reddit to answer questions
- Be active in the industry at events and conferences
You can’t become a thought leader if no one knows your thoughts. Get them out there and connect with others to see an ROI that’s worth more than the bottom line.
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