According to SurveyMonkey, over a million professionals have the words “thought leader” somewhere in their LinkedIn profile. That’s a lot of people who believe they’re experts in their industry. While the jury is still out on how many individuals would actually qualify, your brand can also embrace the opportunity to use thought leadership to build more credibility with a larger audience.
Thought leadership is a valuable strategy that can help your brand inspire, offer unique insights, increase a devoted following and establish an intellectual presence in your industry — and it can be more effective than by just using content marketing strategies alone.
The key word here? Leadership
The terms thought leadership and content marketing are sometimes used interchangeably. While content marketing may show signs of thought leadership, there are definite differences.
Content marketing, for example, offers your audience information that is typically engaging and informative from a technical standpoint. It includes a variety of formats — from articles to webinars to blog posts — with the intent of developing relationships by answering questions, offering solutions to pain points and providing relevant news and updates. When successful, content converts to sales.
Thought leadership isn’t a type of content marketing, but an approach. It’s authoritative, authentic and inspiring, rooted in your brand’s perspective on a given subject. You’re not just regurgitating other viewpoints; you’re coming up with your own and offering your audience a deeper understanding. The ideas you present belong to your brand.
Content marketing plays a huge role in thought leadership. The two work in tandem to strengthen your message, build trust and confidence with your audience, and get more customers on board.
Developing a thought leadership marketing campaign
The central idea in thought leadership marketing is to portray your company as a leader. Amazing content is a vehicle for making that happen. You’re already putting time and resources into producing new content, so think about how you can use it to communicate your value and perspective as a thought leader in your industry.
- What are your industry’s challenges, and how can you provide unique expertise or add value in those areas?
- Can you take (and back up) a contrarian position on one of your industry’s established tenets or accepted beliefs?
- How can you position your brand as an authoritative voice and a knowledgeable resource?
- What fresh and forward-thinking ideas can you turn into a blog post or an essay that may resonate with your audience?
- How can you open a dialogue to engage and better connect with your audience?
- What opportunities can help further your reach? Think guest blogging, speaking engagements, webinars or partnerships with other brands.
Thought leadership should be the end goal of any marketing campaign. And once you figure out how to differentiate your brand from the competition, you can take your content in the direction of a true visionary.
If you need help getting started, we know some pretty awesome writers. Reach out today.